COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – On the opening weekend of the regular season, six National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams dropped the puck on the new season, and three teams had individuals honored with the first Bauer NCHC Players of the Week for the 2017-18 campaign. Earning Bauer NCHC Player of the Week honors for the week of Oct. 2-8, 2017 are Western Michigan junior forward Colt Conrad for Offensive Player of the Week, St. Cloud State junior blue liner Jimmy Schuldt for Defenseman of the Week, Minnesota Duluth freshman defenseman Scott Perunovich for Rookie of the Week and SCSU junior netminder Jeff Smith for Goaltender of the Week.
The honor is Conrad’s second career Offensive Player of the Week nod and third career NCHC weekly award. It is Smith’s second career NCHC weekly honor and the first for both Schuldt and Perunovich.
Colt Conrad, Western Michigan
St. Alphonse, Manitoba
Conrad picked up where he left off last season, tallying five points in Western Michigan’s season-opening home-and-home split with former CCHA rival Ferris State to lead all NCHC players. The undrafted free agent tallied a goal in each game, while firing 11 shots on goal in the series, which also led all NCHC players. In Friday’s 6-1 win in Kalamazoo, Conrad tied a career high with four points and also equaled his career high from March 11 of last season with a trio of assists, including two primary helpers. Three of his points came on the power play, while he put five shots on goal and was named Second Star of the Game. The next night in Big Rapids, Mich., the junior again scored on the power play to cut WMU’s deficit to 3-2, in a loss by the same score. He also put a game-high six shots on goal Saturday. Conrad finished the weekend with two goals, three assists, an even plus-minus, including +2 on Friday, and went 29-23 (.558) in the faceoff circle, while centering WMU’s top line both nights.
Jimmy Schuldt, St. Cloud State
In St. Cloud State’s only game of the weekend, Schuldt was all over the ice in the Huskies’ 4-0 victory over No. 15/18 Minnesota State in Mankato to open the regular season. The junior captain was on the ice for all four goals for a +4 plus-minus, while directly having a hand in two of them. He opened the scoring midway through the first period with a 4-on-4 goal, which held as the game-winner. Schuldt then assisted on SCSU’s third goal midway through the third period. He also blocked four shots, helped kill MSU’s lone power play and played a key part in recording the shutout. Schuldt was tabbed Second Star of the Game for his efforts.
Scott Perunovich, Minnesota Duluth
Perunovich started his college career with a bang, contributing two points, both on the power play, as the Bulldogs were the runner-up in the Ice Breaker Tournament, hosted in Duluth. On Friday, he handed out the primary assist on UMD’s second goal, which tied the game at 2-2 in the third period in an eventual 4-3 overtime win over No. 3/3 Minnesota. The next night, the undrafted free agent scored the Bulldogs’ final goal of the tournament on the man advantage, which tied Michigan Tech at 3-3 in the third period of the championship game, before UMD ultimately came up a goal short. Perunovich finished the weekend with a goal, an assist, an even plus-minus, five shots on goal and a blocked shot en route to Ice Breaker All-Tournament Team honors.
Jeff Smith, St. Cloud State
Maple Ridge, B.C.
Smith opened the 2017-18 season with the best game of his collegiate career, pitching a shutout to start the regular season in a 4-0 win at No. 15/18 Minnesota State. He stopped all 42 shots he faced, which marked a career high in saves, topping his previous high of 41 (Jan. 13, 2017 at Minnesota Duluth), while it was also his first career shutout. Smith turned aside 11 shots in the first frame, 15 in the second and made 16 saves in the final period to thwart any chance of a comeback in SCSU’s only game of the weekend. After starting the year with a 1.000 save percentage, he was tabbed First Star of the Game.
Offensive Player of the Week
Westin Michaud, Jr. F, CC – Posted a career-high three points in CC’s 4-3 win at Vermont on Saturday, scoring CC’s first goal of the season to tie the game and assisting on the final two goals, including the game-winner.
Riley Tufte, So., F, UMD – Scored two goals in the Ice Breaker Tournament, with one each night, while putting nine shots on goal and posting a +2 plus-minus as he was named to the Ice Breaker All-Tournament Team.
Defenseman of the Week
Casey Johnson, So., D, UND – Had a hand in two of UND’s goals in a 3-2 overtime win at Alaska Anchorage Saturday, including scoring the OT game-winner for his first career goal, finishing +1 and helping UND go 8-for-8 on the penalty kill.
Rookie of the Week
Collin Adams, Fr., F, UND – Tallied his first collegiate goal on the power play in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win at Alaska Anchorage, while firing five shots on goal in the series.
Casey Gilling, Fr., F, Miami – Notched two points and was +2 in Miami’s series with Providence, assisting on Miami’s lone goal Friday, while scoring the tying goal, his first career goal, on Saturday in an eventual loss.
Goaltender of the Week
Ben Blacker, So., G, WMU – Went 1-1 in net in a split with Ferris State, making 33 saves in a 6-1 win Friday and 22 saves in a 3-2 loss Saturday as he posted a .932 save percentage and a 2.03 GAA in the series, while helping kill all 11 FSU power plays.
Cam Johnson, Sr., G, UND – Earned a tie and a win in net at Alaska Anchorage, with both games going to overtime, as he compiled 29 saves in the two contests for a .906 save percentage, allowing only three goals for a 1.43 GAA.