by John Peterson
The accolades keep piling up for C.J. Smith (Des Moines, IA) in his freshman season at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
The former Austin Bruins forward, who skated in black and gold from 2011-13, was first chosen the Hockey East Rookie of the Month for November. Then Smith was named a semifinalist for the Walter Brown Award, given annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England.
The latest achievement for Smith is his biggest yet. Per the college hockey website USCHO.com, the 20-year-old is one of six players named to the Hockey East’s All-Rookie Team. He’s joined by some big names in hockey circles.
Included on the team are: Jack Eichel (F – Boston University), who is thought to be a lock to be one of the top two players drafted in June’s NHL Entry Draft; Dennis Kravchenko (F – Massachusetts-Amherst), a former Wichita Falls Wildcats (NAHL) forward who is one of a growing number of California-born players to rise up the hockey ranks; Noah Hanifin (D – Boston College), widely believed to be one of the best defenseman eligible for June’s NHL Draft and a sure first round pick; Brandon Hickey (D – Boston University), a 2014 third round pick of the Calgary Flames; and Cal Petersen (G – Notre Dame), a former Topeka RoadRunners (NAHL) and Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL) goalie who was drafted in 2013 by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth round.
That’s pretty good company for Smith, who hopes someday to become the second Austin Bruins alum to play in the NHL, after Minnesota Wild defenseman Christian Folin, another UMass-Lowell Riverhawk. If he keeps working hard and playing the way he has during a superb freshman season, Smith could be highly sought-after by pro teams in the near future.
In 121 games with the Bruins from 2011-13, Smith racked up 91 points (47-44–91), and averaged nearly a point per game during Austin’s run to the Central Division crown in 2012-13.