Chayse Primeau came into his junior season wanting to take a step forward. After a solid sophomore season, Primeau spent the offseason training and felt ready to take that step in his third year in Omaha. Little did he know how much of a jump that would be.
“The biggest thing for me has been confidence,” Primeau said. “You see it at every level, but the second, third and fourth year somewhere and the more you play, the more comfortable you get. Now that I’m used to the speed, the strength and what it takes to play at this level, I think it’s helped my game a lot and I’m playing with a lot more confidence.”
Earlier this week, Primeau was nominated for the 2021 Hobey Baker Award, which is awarded to college hockey’s top player. Through 16 games, he leads the Mavericks in scoring with 17 points and is tied for second on the team in goals with six.
At one point towards the end of the NCHC Pod, Primeau was tied with UND’s Shane Pinto and UMD’s Nick Swaney for the league lead in points with 12.
Although the season is still far from over and he’d much rather prefer the team over individual success, it’s still a humbling honor to be included with some of the best players college hockey has to offer. It’s also unique on a personal level as his brother, Cayden, was nominated for the award in 2019 as a goaltender at Northeastern.
“It’s something that you work for and knowing that you’re on that list and are recognized as one of the top players in the country is super exciting,” he said. “There have been a lot of people that have helped me get to this point in my career and I’ve had some people reach out which has been one of the best parts.
“I know that no matter where I go I’ll have people in my corner always pushing for me to succeed every step of the way. That’s not just with hockey, but with life in general.”
After starting the year off at the bottom of the lineup, the junior has been penciled in as one of the Mavericks top two centers for the majority of the season. He was placed on a line with Taylor Ward and Tyler Weiss to start the Dec. 13 game against St. Cloud State and the trio haven’t been separated since.
Ward, who leads the Mavericks with eight goals, was also nominated for the award and Primeau said it’s no surprise. He attributes much of the success he’s had this season to his linemates.
“They’re so fun to play with,” Primeau said. “Even on the ice, some of the time I look at them and I’m like holy crap, how’d they do that? I’ve never been much of a scorer until now, so all I try to do is get open and I know they’ll find me. These two put me in spots because the other team has to worry about them, so I just find myself in the quiet areas.”
Last weekend against North Dakota, Primeau opened the scoring for Omaha both nights. He finished the series with two goals and two assists.
On top of his growth at 5-on-5, Primeau has also found himself getting more time on special teams. Three of his six goals this season have come on the man advantage and he’s tied for second on the team with five power play points.
His first goal in that UND series came while the Mavericks were up a man and he also added a power play assist on Saturday. The Mavericks finished game two 3-for-5, their best showing so far this season. Primeau was on the ice for two of the three power play goals.
“We weren’t really clicking there for a little bit, but it’s something we just kept working on all of the time,” Primeau said. “We were getting a lot of looks, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net, and then we really hit our stride against UND. It’s fun to be out there in those situations and it’s definitely something we focus on.”
Those minutes are just another example of that confidence he’s built and having a solidified role. The trust from the coaching staff is another big part of his success this season.
“Coach Gabinet puts me in a lot of spots where it gives me a chance to have success,” Primeau said. “I’ve had a lot of good matchups and have been out there for the right situations, so I think a lot of my success is because of the time the whole coaching staff has put in to help me develop.”
Primeau and the Mavericks will travel to Denver this weekend for the first two of eight games remaining in the regular season. Fan voting for the Hobey Baker is open now and runs through Sunday, March 7. Fans can vote at https://www.hobeybaker.com/vote.