Max Newton is closing out his NCAA hockey career as a Hobey Baker Award nominee.
In his second season with the Merrimack College Warriors, he leads the team in goals (12) assists (19) and points (31), and they are 15-12-1.
Newton is one of 77 candidates on the voter list for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the best college hockey player. That number will eventually be reduced to 10 before the winner is picked.
“That’s a huge honour, it’s one of those things that it’s a pretty prestigious award and to be in a conversation with some of the best players in college hockey and seeing some of the names that have been in the past, is something I take pride in and I’m pretty proud of,” said Newton, who started his junior career in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League with the Grand Forks Border Bruins.
Being in consideration for the award wasn’t on his mind despite the strong season he is enjoying.
“When it came out it was nice to see my name on it and other guys on my team are also nominated,” said Newton, joined by two Warriors teammates. “They deserve it just as much and it’s just a testament to what our team has done throughout the year.”
Newton isn’t asking his friends to vote for him.
“My dad is the main one that’s driving the bus on that,” he said. “He’ll be all over it.”
Newton said the season is going well as they hope to go on a run as one of the top programs in the nation in Hockey East, considered one of the best conferences. Heading into weekend action, the Warriors are in a playoff chase with an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games and currently stand alone in fifth place in the Hockey East standings.
Everything about the season has been enjoyable, especially having fans back.
“I think just having that atmosphere you almost took it for granted before this pause,” he said. “Where there were no fans and then having them come back, it’s been awesome.”
Being in the Warriors program has been great for Newton, who joined from the University of Alaska. He left that program to avoid losing a season of hockey due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as they fly to their games and that wasn’t going to be possible. The Warriors welcomed Newton with open arms and he’s enjoyed the coaching staff and playing against the best players and teams.
In Hockey East, Newton said every team they play has NHL draft picks or highly skilled undrafted players eventually going to play in the NHL.
“We have guys on our team that are going to do the same thing and so every night you’re going to have a chance to see something special and that’s the part I really like about college hockey,” said Newton.
The five-foot-10, 185 pound forward focuses on improving all his skills and said each time a player moves up a level the decision-making always needs to be quicker. Newton plays a simple game, using his hockey sense to find the soft areas for the open shot and relies on his teammates.
Newton played in Grand Forks from 2013-15 and said his time was awesome.
“It was my first step into junior hockey,” said Newton, who was encouraged by a friend to go to Border Bruins camp. “It was really just a time where you’re playing to have fun. We had a really close team and I still think back to those days even though it seems like a long time ago. It was super fun as it was just being a kid and playing hockey and living away from home for the first time and the whole experience was really awesome for me and it was a large part of what Grand Forks is able to offer.
“The hockey was awesome at the time and it seemed like the highest level I could ever play,” continued Newton, who still follows the Border Bruins and stays in touch with his former teammates. “If you take that next step and realize you have to work on these little things and every level is going to be that next step, it’s going to be just that much quicker. I think it really made it a little more smoother than it may have been otherwise.”
After 73 games in the KIJHL, the Vancouver native made the jump to the B.C. Hockey League with the Trail Smoke Eaters, as his Head Coach at the time, Nick Deschenes, brought him to Trail, where he played 95 games before being dealt to the Cowichan Valley Capitals. From there he went to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
To vote for Newton, click here.