Alberta goalie being eyed for Hobey Baker Award hopes to inspire Indigenous youth

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WATCH ABOVE: An Indigenous hockey player from Wetaskiwin is being considered for a Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in NCAA hockey. Devin Buffalo hopes the nod will inspire other Indigenous athletes. – Feb 28, 2018

Devin Buffalo, an Indigenous hockey player who hails from Wetaskiwin, Alta., is being considered for a Hobey Baker Award.

The award goes to the top player in NCAA hockey.

Candidates are selected for their strength and character, for contributing to the integrity of the team, displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game and showing scholastic achievement and sportsmanship.

“It is an honour and humbling to be nominated for such a prestigious award,” Buffalo told Global News on Tuesday.

“Being part of a list of names, including recent U.S. Olympians Ryan Donato and Troy Terry, is quite surreal.”

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Buffalo graduated from Wetaskiwin Composite High School in 2011 and spent two and a half seasons with the Flin Flon Bombers.

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He was traded to the Drumheller Dragons, where he posted a 2.03 goals against average and a .924 save percentage in 11 regular season games.

“Being a late bloomer, people always told me I was too small to be a goalie and I was cut from the AAA teams in my area throughout my minor hockey days,” Buffalo said.

“Like most Alberta kids, I was devastated because there is so much pressure to make the AAA teams and hopefully get in the bantam draft or signed by a WHL team. If you don’t, it feels like your career is over even before it has really started.”

The 24-year-old Ivy Leaguer now plays for Dartmouth Big Green in Hanover, N.H.

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“It is important to me to show not only Indigenous youth, but young Albertans, that there are alternative routes — routes that will open doors to the top schools in North America,” Buffalo said.

“I want to promote how important education is to the Indigenous youth out there and show them that we can attend Ivy League schools if we fully commit ourselves to sports and education.

“I hope a young Indigenous kid out there is seeing this, and sees that recent Hobey Baker winners in the past have included Johnny Gaudreau or Jack Eichel, and get that inspiration that it doesn’t matter where you are from, it is possible for us Indigenous people to dream and achieve.”

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There are 74 nominees for the 2018 Hobey Baker Award. Nominated players were submitted by the athletic departments of the Division 1 men’s hockey schools. A maximum of three candidates can be submitted for each school.

Online voting for the first round ends March 4 at midnight.

After the fan vote, a committee will narrow the final 10 down to three, before a winner is announced on April 6.

Dartmouth College goaltender Devin Buffalo from Wetaskiwin. Courtesy: Hobey Baker Award

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