March 15, 2017
By Dan Colleran
BOSTON, Mass. -- The Hockey East Association announced the first round of league award winners on Wednesday morning and Notre Dame sophomore Dennis Gilbert was selected as the `47 Brand Best Defensive Defenseman, while freshman defenseman Andrew Peeke was named to the Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team. The awards were voted on by the league's 12 head coaches.
Gilbert has played in all 36 games this season for the Irish and chipped in a career-high 21 assists, which rank third on the team. He posted seven multi-assist games and, over Notre Dame's last 10 games, he totaled 10 assists to help the Irish to a 7-1-2 record down the stretch. He is Notre Dame's first Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman award winner.
A third-round draft pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 NHL Draft (91st overall), Gilbert leads all of Hockey East by a considerable margin in plus/minus, as he will carry a +28 rating into this weekend's conference tournament semifinal game against UMass Lowell. The +28 mark ranks third in the country. He has also blocked 70 shots this season, which ranks second on the team and sixth in the league.
Peeke has also been a staple on the Irish blue line, skating in all 36 games. The only defenseman selected to the All-Rookie Team, Peeke has scored four goals and added nine assists for 13 points. He becomes the fourth Notre Dame player to be named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team, joining Vince Hinostroza (2014), Cal Petersen (2015) and Bobby Nardella (2016).
A second-round selection by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2016 NHL Draft (34th overall), Peeke leads the Irish with 74 blocked shots on the season, which ranks fifth in Hockey East and tied for 19th in the country. He scored his first career goal in Notre Dame's 5-2 win at Northeastern (Nov. 12). He also scored the game-winning goal and added an assist for his first career multi-point game in Notre Dame's 4-1 win over UMass Lowell (Nov. 18).
In addition, Hockey East announced Anders Bjork tied with Boston University's Clayton Keller and New Hampshire's Tyler Kelleher for the ARMY ROTC Three Stars Award as the trio accumulated the same amount of points from being named one of the ARMY ROTC Three Stars of the Game after each league contest.
The Fighting Irish also claimed the Charlie Holt Team Sportsmanship Award, which is handed out annually to the team with the fewest penalty minutes in Hockey East play.
Additional Hockey East awards, including the All-Star teams, will be announced on Thursday, March 16, at the league's annual awards banquet.
The Irish will then play UMass Lowell in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 17, at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The game will be televised by NESN and streamed online via ESPN3 and the WatchESPN platform.
-- ND --
Dan Colleran, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been a part of Fighting Irish Media since August 2015 and coordinates all media and publicity efforts surrounding the Notre Dame hockey and golf programs. A native of Walpole, Massachusetts, Colleran spent the previous three years working with the men's hockey and soccer programs at Providence College. Colleran also spent two years as an Assistant Executive Director of Communications & Championships at the Ivy League and is a graduate of Providence College ('06 & '08G).