COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Helping each of their teams to big wins at home last weekend, three teams are represented among the Bauer National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Players of the Week for the week of Nov. 4-10, 2019, including two from North Dakota. Garnering Bauer NCHC honors for week 6 are UND junior Jordan Kawaguchi for Forward of the Week, Fighting Hawks junior Matt Kiersted for Defenseman of the Week, Omaha forward Nolan Sullivan for Rookie of the Week and Minnesota Duluth senior Hunter Shepard for Goaltender of the Week.
Kawaguchi earns his second career NCHC Forward of the Week honor in three weeks, while Shepard is also the Goaltender of the Week for the second time in three weeks. Shepard is now an 11-time Goaltender of the Week for his NCHC career. On the flip side, these are the first career NCHC weekly honors for both Kiersted and Sullivan, while Sullivan is the second straight Maverick to claim Rookie of the Week after defenseman Brandon Scanlin last week.
Jordan Kawaguchi, North Dakota
Kawaguchi led the NCHC with six points last weekend to guide North Dakota to a conference-opening sweep of Miami, tallying three points each night. In Friday’s 7-1 beatdown, the assistant captain dished out three assists, all primary, on UND’s first three goals, to put the Fighting Hawks up 3-0 in the opening period. The first two assists came on the power play, with the second setting up the game-winner, while all three helpers came in a span of 2:02 in the first frame. He put three shots on goal and was Second Star of the Game on Friday. The next night, Kawaguchi doled out two more primary assists, including again on the game-winning goal in the second period, while also scoring UND’s third goal to break a 2-2 tie late in the first period. He was +3 on Saturday and earned First Star of the Game. Kawaguchi finished the sweep with a goal and five primary assists, while posting a +4 plus/minus and putting five shots on goal with one blocked shot. On the season, he leads UND with a team-high 13 points and 10 assists.
Matt Kiersted, North Dakota
Elk River, Minn.
Kiersted was productive at both ends of the ice to help North Dakota open NCHC play with a sweep of Miami. Offensively, the assistant captain tallied four assists to lead all NCHC blue liners in scoring, while defensively he played on a penalty kill that finished 7-for-8 on the weekend. On Friday, Kiersted handed out a career-high three assists, including the first two on the power play only 1:21 apart in the first period, with the latter setting up the game-winning goal. He also had the primary helper on UND’s fourth goal in a 7-1 rout and was +1. The next night he handed out another power play assist in the first period to break a 1-1 tie in an eventual 5-4 victory. Kiersted finished the series with four assists, including three on the power play, three shots on goal and an even plus/minus. He stretched his point streak to three games in the wins and now has seven points (1g, 6a) on the season after more than doubling his season total against Miami.
Nolan Sullivan, Omaha
Eden Prairie, Minn.
Sullivan had a breakout weekend for the Mavericks, helping Omaha to a split with then-No. 12 Wisconsin. He recorded the first three points of his collegiate career against the Badgers in his fourth and fifth career games for UNO. In Friday’s 5-2 defeat, he scored his first career goal late in the third period to bring Omaha within a goal at 3-2. He was +1 in the loss and earned Second Star of the Game. A night later, Sullivan dished out a pair of assists, again doing damage in the third period by setting up a pair of goals less than three minutes apart to extend Omaha’s lead from 3-2 to a 5-2 victory. The centerman played on UNO’s top line Saturday, putting four shots on goal and he was again +1. Sullivan ended the weekend with a goal, two assists, six shots on goal and a +2 plus/minus. He also won 72.7 percent of his draws against the Badgers, going 16-6 in the faceoff circle.
Hunter Shepard, Minnesota Duluth
Shepard backstopped Minnesota Duluth to a four-point weekend in its NCHC-opening series against top-ranked Denver. On Friday, he made 29 saves in a 3-3 overtime tie, while helping kill all three DU power plays with three short-handed saves. He also added a save during the 3-on-3 overtime session. The next night, Shepard turned aside 29 shots again in a 5-2 victory, handing Denver its first loss of the season. The Bulldogs co-captain made nine short-handed saves on Saturday, helping kill three of four Pioneer power plays. Shepard finished the series with a 1-0-1 record, while stopping 58 of 63 shots faced for a .921 save percentage, tops in the NCHC over the weekend, and a 2.41 goals-against average. On the season, Shepard is now 4-3-1 with a 2.36 GAA and upped his save percentage to .905.
Forward of the Week
Noah Cates, So., F, UMD – Scored a goal both nights against Denver, including the game-tying goal Friday, while putting four shots on goal and finishing the series +2.
Sam Hentges, So., F, SCSU – Totaled four points and was +1 at Northern Michigan with an assist in Friday’s tie, while totaling three points, including a goal, in Saturday’s overtime win.
Rhett Kingston, So. F, WMU – Tallied a career-high four points in Saturday’s 8-2 win at Ferris State, including his first career hat trick and scoring the game-winning goal, while finishing the sweep +3 with 10 shots on goal.
Defenseman of the Week
Kale Bennett, Sr., D, WMU – Scored his second career goal and handed out an assist in Saturday’s 8-2 win at Ferris State, while blocking five shots and posting a +2 plus/minus in the sweep.
Scott Perunovich, Jr., D, UMD – Dished out three assists against Denver, including on the game-tying goal Friday, while blocking two shots and posting a +1 plus/minus.
Rookie of the Week
Harrison Blaisdell, Fr., F, UND – Handed out three assists in a sweep of Miami while posting a +3 plus/minus.
Luke Loheit, Fr., F, UMD – Scored the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Denver, which was his first collegiate goal, while putting two shots on goal in the series.
Goaltender of the Week
Isaiah Saville, Fr., G, Omaha – Backstopped Omaha to a split with No. 12 Wisconsin, totaling 45 saves on 50 shots for a .900 save percentage and a 2.52 GAA in the series.