The University of Minnesota-Duluth added another name to it’s long list of Hobey Baker winners as defenseman, Scott Perunovich was named the 2019-20 winner on Saturday, April 11.
In an odd late night announcement by ESPN (11:00PM ET) on a day in which the Frozen Four Championship would have been played, Perunovich was introduced as college hockey’s top player of the year. Perunovich beat out fellow National Collegiate Hockey Conference forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Hockey East goaltender Jeremy Swayman for the award. However, Perunovich’s body of work made him the presumptive favorite for the 2019-20 Award.
When it came down to it, Perunovich, the native of Hibbing, MN was honored for three sparkling seasons at Minnesota-Duluth leading the team to two Frozen Four appearances and two consecutive national championships and racking up awards – too many to mention. To opponents, because of his elite level of play, Perunovich was one of those players who seemed like he had been around forever. Yet, were it not for signing a two-year entry level NHL contract with the St. Louis Blues on March 27, he could have been back for another year of collegiate hockey.
Perunovich made an impact immediately for the Bulldogs as a freshman in 2017-18 leading the squad in points while the team defeated Notre Dame 2-1 in the National Championship game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. That season, he was named First Team All-American, NCHC All-Rookie Team, NCHC All-First Tea, NCHC Rookie of the Year and NCAA Rookie of the Year.
In 2018-19, as a sophomore, he finished third in scoring and again was a key component in a National Championship run as the Bulldogs blanked Massachusetts 3-0 at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY. He was named NCHC’s best offensive defenseman, NCHC First All-Star Team and Second Team All-American.
In the shortened 2019-20 season, the Bulldogs finished second in the NCHC but were again one of the favorites to make a third straight run in the NCAA Tournament. Perunovich again led his team in points and was showered with post-season awards including NCHC First All-Star Team, NCHC Best Offensive Defenseman, NCHC PLayer of the Year, NCHC Scoring Champion and First Team All-American.
In winning the award, Perunovich joins five other former Bulldogs as Hobey winners including Tom Kurvers (1984), Bill Watson, (1985), Chris Marinucci (1994), Junior Lessard (2004) and Jack Connolly in 2012. Minnesota-born players have won the award more than any other state (10) and Bulldogs players have won the award more than any other school with 6. Harvard University players have won the award 4 times.
The award is named for hockey Hall of Famer, Hobey Baker, who played college hockey at Princeton University and died in World War I.The original statue for the award was commissioned and awarded by the Decathlon Athletic Club (now defunct) in Bloomington, MN. The model for the award trophy was SteveChristoff, who played for the University of MInnesota.
Long-time hockey beat writer, John Gilbert summed things up nicely by commenting ” Scott Perunovich has been the best reason for any hockey fan to watch any hockey game during his three years at UMD. There is no more spectacular player in college hockey, and that makes the Hobey Baker Award perfect.”