At the beginning of the season, I wrote a blog on my pre-season Hobey Baker predictions and sent them to my editor, Katie Schauer, for review. Her response was “No Corban Knight?” I responded that he’s steady and probably the best 2-way player in the WCHA, but he’s not fancy enough. This wasn’t a slam on Knight; it was more of a slam on the media and other coaches that don’t realize the things that he quietly does night in and night out to help the team win. Things have changed since then; Knight is leading the WCHA scoring, ranked 7th nationally, has the highest +/- on a top WCHA team, is riding a 13 game point streak, and is on pace to break his own face-off record of 59.9%. Keep in mind that he has never received any post-season honors. So some people that don’t watch Knight on a regular basis are wondering “where did this guy come from?”Corban Knight hasn’t come out of nowhere. He very quietly put together 40+ point seasons as a sophomore and junior. He is 50th on the list of career points by UND players with 120 points. This puts him ahead of players like Zach Parise, Matt Frattin, Terry Casey, Marc Chorney, and Drew Stafford. Some of these players didn’t play all four years, but it is impressive company, nonetheless. In fact, all but Stafford received All-American honors.
Last season, Knight led a young, injury-plagued line-up to a 3rd straight Broadmoor trophy and into a regional championship game where they fell short. In that regional he had the winning goal against Western Michigan, was a +3 in the tournament, and won 72% of his face-offs. Once they lost out to Minnesota and his season was over, it was revealed that he had played the last month of the season with a broken hand. Yes, he won 72% of his face-offs at a regional tournament with a broken hand.
So where did Corban Knight come from? The real question is when did the media start taking notice? He’d be the first to admit he doesn’t have remarkable speed like Kristo or Grimaldi, a shot like Frattin, or hands like Evan Trupp. In fact, if you had to pick one skill that Knight is “flashy” at, it’s his incredible knack for face-offs.
Flashy or not, Corban Knight is leading the WCHA in scoring this season and is playing his reliable 2-way center role on a team that’s tied for first in the WCHA heading into Christmas Break. Given his consistency, I don’t see his production dropping off much this season either. The rest of the hockey world is starting to take notice of the player that UND players, coaches, and fans have known about for three years and he’s made it almost impossible for coaches and media to not discuss him as an All-WCHA, All-American, and Hobey Baker top 10 pick in the spring. So much for a Silent Knight!