Minnesota Duluth’s Perunovich, Shepard, North Dakota’s Poolman earn individual awards from NCHC

Hunter Shepard (Minnesota-Duluth -32) 2019 March 23 University of Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State University meet in the championship game of the NCHC Frozen Face Off at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN (Bradley K. Olson)
Hunter Shepard went 22-10-2 this season with a 2.18 GAA and a .918 save percentage for Minnesota Duluth (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

A pair of Minnesota Duluth standouts have repeated as NCHC individual award winners in 2019-20, while North Dakota senior defenseman Colton Poolman also received league recognition on Tuesday.

UMD junior Scott Perunovich won NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year for the third time in as many years, becoming the first NCHC player to win any year-end individual award three times. His teammate, senior Hunter Shepard, garnered NCHC Goaltender of the Year for a second straight season.

Poolman was named 2019-20 NCHC Defensive Defenseman of the Year, joining his older brother, Tucker (2016-17), as the only other Fighting Hawk to win the award.

A finalist for NCHC Player of the Year (announced Thursday), Perunovich, also a St. Louis Blues draft pick, became the first defenseman to win the NCHC scoring title, racking up 32 points in 24 conference games, including an NCHC-best 28 assists.

Perunovich ranked second nationally in defenseman scoring with 40 points (six goals, 34 assists) overall this season.

Shepard becomes the second netminder to capture NCHC Goaltender of the Year twice, joining Denver’s Tanner Jaillet in 2017 and 2018.

An undrafted free agent, Shepard was the only goaltender to start all 24 conference games this season, going 17-5-2 with one shutout (Nov. 23 vs. Colorado College). His 17 wins led the NCHC, while his .923 save percentage and 2.13 GAA both ranked second in conference play.

On the season, Shepard finished 22-10-2 overall, starting every game and breaking the NCAA record for consecutive starts, while posting a 2.18 GAA and a .918 save percentage.

Poolman, who signed with the Calgary Flames on March 20, played in 21 conference games this season, blocking 26 shots while posting a plus-9 plus/minus. Offensively, he chipped in 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in conference games and led the Fighting Hawks to the Penrose Cup as regular-season champions.

On Wednesday, the NCHC will announce Forward, Defensive Forward and Rookie of the Year. Then on Thursday, NCHC Player of the Year, Herb Brooks Coach of the Year and Senior Scholar-Athlete will be announced.