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UMD's Scott Perunovich among final three for Hobey Baker honor

 

 

Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich, North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman were named the Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalists, the award committee announced Thursday. The award, given annually to the top player in college hockey, will be announced at 10 a.m. April 11 on ESPN.

Perunovich, a junior from Hibbing, Minn., helped Minnesota Duluth win back-to-back national championships in 2018 and ’19 and had the Bulldogs in the running for a three-peat. He was named NCHC player of the year, along with the conference’s offensive defenseman of the year for the third consecutive season, after winning the NCHC scoring title with four goals and a league-high 28 assists in 24 conference games. Perunovich ranked second nationally in scoring by a defenseman (6-34-40), ranked second nationally among all skaters with 34 assists and tied for the NCAA lead with 22 power-play points. He was named national player of the year by College Hockey News.

A 2018 second-round NHL draft pick with St. Louis, Perunovich signed a two-year, entry level deal with the Blues last week.

 

 

Kawaguchi, a junior from Abbotsford, British Columbia, was named NCHC forward of the year and national player of the year by U.S. College Hockey Online. He had 45 points, second in the nation, on 15 goals and 30 assists. Kawaguchi also had a nation’s-best 13 game-winning points, along with five game-winning goals, as the Fighting Hawks won the NCHC regular-season title and entered the postseason as the No. 1 team in the PairWise Ratings.

Kawaguchi announced earlier this week that he will return to North Dakota for his senior season.

 

 

Swayman, a junior from Anchorage, Alaska, led Division I hockey in saves with 1,099 and ranked second in save percentage at .939. He had a 2.07 goals-against average (14th nationally) and had three shutouts. A fourth-round NHLH pick by Boston in 2017, Swayman signed with the Bruins in March.

Criteria for the Hobey Baker Award include: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.

Minnesota Duluth star defenseman Scott Perunovich agrees to terms with Blues

 

 

One of top players in college hockey the past three years is moving on to the NHL.

Scott Perunovich, the junior defenseman who helped Minnesota Duluth win back-to-back national championships in 2018 and ’19 and had the Bulldogs in the running for a three-peat, agreed to terms with the St. Louis Blues on a two-year, entry level contract, the club announced Friday. Perunovich will forgo his senior season at UMD.

Perunovich, a Hibbing, Minn., native, was a second-round draft pick (45th overall) of the Blues in 2018. His signing caps a busy couple of weeks for the smooth-skating, 5-10, 175-pounder. On March 18, he was named one of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey’s top player. This week, he earned NCHC player of the year honors, along with the conference’s offensive defenseman of the year for the third consecutive year. The Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalists will be announced Thursday, and the award winner will be revealed April 10.

Perunovich, 21, was the first defenseman to win the NCHC scoring title, with four goals and a league-high 28 assists in 24 conference games. He ranked second nationally in scoring by a defenseman (6-34-40), ranked second nationally among all skaters with 34 assists and tied for the NCAA lead with 22 power-play points. He was named College Hockey News’ national player of the year on Tuesday.

As a freshman, Perunovich burst on the college hockey scene by scoring 11 goals and assisting on 25 as Minnesota Duluth, the last team to qualify for the NCAA tournament in 2018, won four one-goal games on the way to the national championship. In 2018-19, he battled a back injury but still finished with three goals and 26 assists as the Bulldogs repeated as national champs. Coach Scott Sandelin’s squad carried a 22-10-2 record into the NCHC quarterfinals this year and was in line to be a No. 1 seed in an NCAA tournament regional before the season was canceled March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He earned American Hockey Coaches Association West All-America honors as a freshman and sophomore, and is a shoo-in to add a third such honor in April.

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