Northland Sports Online

Perunovich Hobey Baker Winner




Move over Jack Connolly, Junior Lessard, Chris Mariucci, Bill Watson and Tom Kurvers — you have some company.

Scott Perunovich became the most recent addition to the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Hobey Baker Memorial Award club on Friday night when the junior defenseman was announced as the 2019-20 recipient of that honor, which goes to the most outstanding player in college hockey.

“I’m extremely honored and humbled to be this year’s Hobey Baker Award recipient,” said Perunovich.”It’s a very prestigious award and UMD has now won six, so to now belong to that group is really special.”

Pernovich is the indeed the sixth Bulldog to claim the Hobey Baker Award in its 40 years of existence, joining Connolly (2011-12),  Lessard (2003-04), Marinucci (1993-94), Watson (1984-85) and Kurvers (1983-84).  No school in the country has produced more winners.

Perunovich, a native of Hibbing, Minn., attained All-American status for a third time  in 2019-20 (first team this winter and in 2017-18 and second team one year ago), something only two other Bulldogs — Connolly (2009-12) and defenseman Norm Maciver (1983-86) had ever done before. Perunovich, who last month signed a two-year entry contract with the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues, was chosen the 2019-20 National Collegiate Hockey Conference Player of the Year after pacing that circuit in scoring — the first defenseman to ever do that.  He also became the first, three-time all-NCHC first team pick in league history and joined Jack Connolly (2010-12 with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association) as the only two Bulldogs to land all-conference first team honors in three different seasons.

Perunovich concluded his junior year occupying the No. 2 spot on the NCAA defensemen scoring charts with a UMD-leading (and career-best) 40 points. His 22 power play points and 34 assists also ranked first and second, respectively, among all NCAA skaters. This past February, the Hibbing, Minn., product became the 58th member of the UMD Century Club — the first Bulldog blueliner to reach that milestone since three-time All-American Norm Maciver back in 1984-85.  A three-time NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year Award winner, Perunovich closed out 2019-20 with the highest career points per game average (0.91) of any active NCAA defenseman in the nation.

Since UMD joined the NCAA I ranks in 1961-62, a defenseman has reigned as the team’s scoring leader on just three occasions with Perunovich doing it twice (2019-20 and 2017-18).

As a sophomore, Perunovich accomplished something only one other Bulldog had done previously — attain All-American status in each of his first two collegiate season (goaltender Rick Kosti was the other, doing so in 1983-84 and 1984-85) as he was an All-American second team honoree and a repeat first team All-NCHC selection. This all came after he delivered one of the most prolific seasons by a UMD freshmen ever. In addition to being the recipient of the Tim Taylor Award (Hockey Commissioner’s Association National Rookie of the Year) Perunovich  was also named a first team All-American — just the second UMD newcomer to be so honored (joining center Murray Keogan, 1969-70). His other post-season citations included National Rookie of the Year, College Hockey News National Rookie of the Year, (first team) and College Hockey News All-Rookie Team. Perunovich also was voted the NCHC Rookie of the Year and NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year (both UMD program firsts) and became just the second first-year Bulldog to attain All-NCHC/WCHA first team acclaim (Keogan was the other — with the WCHA in 1969-70). He topped the Bulldogs in scoring with 36 points (a record for a first-year UMD blueliner and the most of any freshman defenseman in the country) on 11 goals and a team-leading 25 assists in 42 games  while also going a +22 — the best figure among all  2017-18 NCAA rookies.

“He is a difference maker, that’s for sure,” said UMD Head Coach Scott Sandelin of his third Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner. “He’s the type of impact player who can take control of a game. He’s had a tremendous season — and a tremendous three-year career here — and is certainly deserving of this award.”

Year         Name
2019-20  Scott Perunovich, D (Recipient)
2011-12   Jack Connolly, C (Recipient)

2010-11   Jack Connolly, C (Finalist)
2003-04   Junior Lessard, W (Recipient)
1993-94   Chris Marinucci, C (Recipient)

1992-93   Derek Plante, C (Finalist)
1985-86   Brett Hull, W (Finalist)
1985-86   Norm Maciver, D (Finalist)
1984-85   Bill Watson, W (Recipient)
1983-84   Tom Kurvers, D (Recipient)

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