Former Massachusetts Hockey Player Makar Wins Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe

TAMPA, Florida – University of Massachusetts Hockey Alumnus and 2019 Hobey Baker Winner Cale Makar won its first Stanley Cup championship with the Colorado Avalanche, as Colorado earned a decisive 2-1 victory in Game 6 over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night. Makar was also named the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player, becoming the second Minuteman in history to earn the honor when goaltender Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe in 2012.

It’s the fifth time a former Massachusetts hockey player has won the Stanley Cup, as Makar joins Conor Sheary (Pittsburgh Penguins – 2016, 2017) and Quick (Los Angeles Kings – 2012, 2014) who both lifted the Cup twice.

Makar was the unanimous choice for Conn Smythe, earning the first vote of 18 voters after playing a pivotal role in Colorado winning its first Stanley Cup since 2001. The former Minuteman finished third in the NHL with 29 points ( eight goals, 21 assists) in 19 playoff games, the most by a defenseman since Brian Leetch had 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 23 games with the New York Rangers in 1993-94. After finishing with seven points (three goals, four assists) in the Stanley Cup Final, Makar becomes the youngest defenseman to win the Conn Smythe since Bobby Orr did it 52 years ago and UMass joined Cornell as one of only two NCAA hockey programs to produce two Conn Smythe winners.

The native of Calgary, Alta., received the Norris Trophy last Tuesday as the NHL’s top defenseman in the 2021-22 regular season, which allowed him to accumulate 56 points (19g, 37a) and help Colorado finish first in the Western Conference. He is the third defenseman in NHL history to win the Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy and Norris Trophy in the same season, after Orr (1970, 1972) and Nicklas Lidstrom (2002). In 2019-20, Makar also won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

During his two-year college career, Makar was named the 2019 Hobey Baker Award winner, the first-ever UMass winner, and helped elevate Massachusetts hockey to unprecedented success in 2018-19 with the very first appearance of the Frozen Four program.

He finished his collegiate career with 70 points on 21 goals and 49 assists in 75 career games and as the career plus-minus record holder at +41, signing with the Colorado Avalanche at the end of the campaign 2018-19.

Chosen as the Hockey East Player of the Year by unanimous selection, Makar also received the Leonard Fowle Award as New England Player of the Year and the Bob Monahan Award (Top New England Defenseman) in plus being named a member of Hockey East’s first team. -Star, a New England All-Star and a 2018-19 CCM/AHA Hockey First Team All-American.

Makar was at the center of a historic run for Massachusetts hockey in 2018-19, including program records in wins, conference wins and the team’s first-ever Hockey East regular-season championship.

The first defenseman in history to lead Hockey East overall with 49 points in 40 games, Makar finished the year eighth nationally in points per game (1.20), sixth in assists per game (0.80 ), third in scoring for defenders and second in plus-minus (+32). He was voted NCAA Ice Hockey Northeast Regional Most Outstanding Player after leading UMass to a Northeast Regional Championship with one goal, one assist and a +3 rating in Harvard’s 4-0 shutouts and Our Lady. In the National Semifinals, Makar recorded his 33rd assist of the season and helped the Minutemen earn a berth in the NCAA Championship Game for the first time in program history.

Makar broke UMass single-season records for points by a defenseman and assists by a defenseman in 2018-19, marks previously held by UMass Hall of Famer Thomas Poeck. He is second in program history in single-season assists and fifth in single-season points.

The 2018-19 Massachusetts alternate captain guided the Minutemen to their first No. 1 ranking in school history in USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls, and the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. His 16 goals in 2018-19 bolstered UMass’ highest goal tally (151) in the program’s Hockey East era.

Makar was named No. 1 on ESPN’s list of the Top 50 NHL Draft Prospects in March 2019. As a rookie in 2017-18, Makar was a Hockey East Third Team All-Star and a All-Rookie team and won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he was one of three Canadian players in the tournament and a World Media All-Star Team selection juniors.

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