Capping off a superb 3-year career with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, defenseman Scott Perunovich was named the winner of the 2020 Hobey Baker Award, adding some final hardware to what was a decorated three seasons with the Bulldogs.
Perunovich burst onto the college hockey scene as a freshman, after playing three years of high school and one year with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League. In a sparkling debut campaign, Perunovich notched 11 goals and 25 assists – his 36 points tied him for fourth among all defenseman and third among all freshmen regardless of position. It set a UMD record for points by a freshman defenseman. Perunovich, named a first team All-American, continued his spectacular play in the postseason, selected to the Frozen Four all-tournament team, helping lead the Bulldogs to a national championship. Perunovich’s spectacular season put him on the NHL radar and after going undrafted in his first two years of eligibility, Perunovich skyrocketed into the second round, being selected 45th overall by the St. Louis Blues.
Perunovich continued to rake in the awards and honors his sophomore season, as he posted another strong campaign with 3 goals and 26 assists. He was nominated for the Hobey Baker award, and he was named the NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the year. However, he was not only proficient on offense, as he was also named all-conference and second team All-American for his stellar defensive ability as well. Perunovich helped anchor a defensive unit that gave up just three goals in four NCAA Tournament games, leading the Bulldogs to a repeat title.
Due to the unfortunate onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, Perunovich did not get a chance to go for the 3-peat with UMD. After a slow start, the Bulldogs were 22-10-2 and ranked fourth in the country, gunning for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Despite the shortened season, Perunovich still put up impressive numbers, posting a career-high 40 points on 6 goals and 34 assists. Perunovich signed a two-year entry level contract with the Blues, which will start this year if the NHL season resumes. On Saturday night, Perunovich was named the Hobey Baker winner, beating out North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi and University of Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman, who was attempting to become the second ever goaltender to win the award. He will certainly be named an All-American for the third consecutive season.
Perunovich finishes his career with 105 points in 115 games, and he finishes his junior year second in the country in points by a defenseman. He will join the Blues when/if the season resumes, and many project him to be an immediate contributor for the defending Stanley Cup Champions.