Originally posted on Jets All Out  |  Last updated 7/22/13
It has been quite the year for Jets goalie prospect Connor Hellebuyck. First, he was selected in the fifth round, 130th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2012 NHL Draft.  A bit of an unknown but still showing strong numbers in his season with the USHL's Odessa Jackalopes (26-21-5, 2.49 GAA, .930 SV%), Hellebuyck ventured off into NCAA hockey after being drafted. In his freshmen season at UMass-Lowell, as a River Hawk, Hellebuyck would become one of the most unlikely of all stories posting a 20-3-0 record, 1.37 goals against average, and a .952 save percentage as the River Hawks won their first Hockey East title in school history. In four posteason games, Hellebuyck allowed only four goals and was named the tournament's most valuable player. The River Hawks swept Maine in two games, then outduelled Providence to a 2-1 win, before dispatching Boston University with a 1-0 win. To say Hellebuyck was good would be an understatement. To say he was spectacular would be more appropriate. Hellebuyck helped the River Hawks do what two other dominant UMass-Lowell teams could not in 1994 and 2009 - defeat the powerhouse Boston Univeristy Terriers for a Hockey East title. Hellebuyck would backstop the River Hawks into their first Frozen Four appearance as well, as #1 ranked UMass-Lowell took out the fourth seeded Wisconsin Badgers 4-1 and then New Hampshire 2-0 in the Northeast Regional Tournament. The train would eventually stop as the River Hawks would fall in the national semifinals to the eventual NCAA Champions from Yale in overtime.  Despite the loss, Hellebuyck would stop 41 of 44 shots he faced in the 3-2 loss. From his achievements in only one season of NCAA hockey, Hellebuyck has shown that he is perhaps one of the biggest gems in the Winnipeg Jets treasure case and can build upon his strong freshmen season to help the River Hawks continue their dominance in Division I hockey. For the Jets, however, he has shown how dominant he can be, the Jets would be happy if he could do that in the future in the NHL at the MTS Centre.
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