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Bauer NCHC Players of the Week: November 18-24, 2019

By NCHC, 11/25/19, 4:30PM EST

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DU’s Heikkinen, UMD’s Perunovich and Shepard, and Miami’s Savage honored for week 8

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Half of the Bauer National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Players of the Week for the week of November 18-24, 2019 are repeat winners from this season, including one repeat winner from last week, while the other two are first-time winners in their career. Earning Bauer NCHC weekly honors for week 8 are Denver junior Jaakko Heikkinen for Forward of the Week, Minnesota Duluth junior Scott Perunovich, who is Defenseman of the Week for the second consecutive week, Miami freshman forward Ryan Savage for Rookie of the Week and UMD senior Hunter Shepard for Goaltender of the Week.

Perunovich collects his ninth career NCHC weekly honor, including sixth Defenseman of the Week nod, three of which have come this season. Shepard, meanwhile, is now a three-time NCHC Goaltender of the Week this season and a 12-time NCHC Goaltender of the Week for his career. Heikkinen and Savage each earned their first career NCHC weekly awards.

Forward of the Week

Jaakko Heikkinen, Denver
Junior Forward
Helsinki, Finland
 
Heikkinen compiled four points to help Denver earn a split with then-No. 20 Western Michigan. In Friday’s 2-1 loss, he scored DU’s lone goal of the game in the second period and fired four shots on goal with a +1 plus/minus. The next night, Heikkinen tied a career high with three points in a 6-1 win to help the Pioneers snap a five-game winless skid and earn their first conference win of the season. He handed out two assists, the first serving as the primary helper on the game’s first goal, with his second coming on the game-winner in the second period to break a 1-1 tie. Heikkinen then tacked on a power play goal early in the third period and was named Third Star of the Game Saturday. It was his second career three-point game, while he put three shots on goal and was +1 again in the victory. Heikkinen finished the series with two goals, two assists, a +2 plus/minus and seven shots on goal. He also won 12 faceoffs in the center circle. In 14 games this season, Heikkinen has nine points on four goals and five assists.

Defenseman of the Week

Scott Perunovich, Minnesota Duluth
Junior Defenseman
Hibbing, Minn.
 
Repeating as Defenseman of the Week, Perunovich put on another show offensively in a sweep of Colorado College, playing a key cog in UMD’s power play, while also playing on the penalty kill. The St. Louis Blues draft pick dished out seven assists on the weekend, including six on the power play, as he had a hand in all but two of UMD’s nine goals in the sweep of CC. Perunovich set up all four UMD goals in Friday’s 4-3 victory, including the primary assist on the game-winning goal with only 18 seconds left in regulation to break a 3-3 tie. Three of his assists came on the power play as UMD went 3-for-5 on the man advantage, while he was tabbed First Star of the Game. The four assists marked a career high and the four points tied his career high. The next night, Perunovich dished out three more helpers, all on the power play, again including on the game-winner to earn Second Star of the Game.  UMD’s power play was again 3-for-5 with Perunovich quarterbacking it, while he also helped shut out the Tigers in Saturday’s 5-0 win, killing all four CC power plays. Perunovich finished the series with seven assists, as he led the Bulldogs’ power play to go 6-for-10 against the Tigers, while anchoring a penalty kill that finished 7-of-8 on the weekend. He was an even plus/minus on the weekend and put two shots on goal. On the season, Perunovich leads all NCHC skaters with both 18 assists and 20 points, with 14 assists coming during his current six-game point streak.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Ryan Savage, Miami
Freshman Forward
Montreal, Quebec
 
Savage had a breakout weekend, racking up four points to more than double his season total and help Miami earn five points at Omaha for its first road NCHC series win since January of 2016. In Friday’s opener, Savage had a monster game, having a hand in every Miami goal in the game for a career-high three points. He assisted on MU’s first goal to tie the game on the power play, then scored the go-ahead goal later in the first frame and set up Miami’s third goal with the primary assist. After the game ended in a 3-3 tie, Savage also scored in 3-on-3 overtime to give the RedHawks the extra NCHC standings point. He was +2 Friday with three shots on goal and earned First Star of the Game. The next night, Savage handed out the primary assist on the game’s first goal to put Miami up 1-0 on the power play en route to a 4-1 victory. He was +1 in Saturday’s win. Savage finished the series with a goal, three assists, a 3-on-3 overtime goal, a +3 plus/minus, four shots on goal and four blocked shots. On the season, the draft-eligible forward now has seven points on three goals and four assists.

GOALTENDER OF THE WEEK

Hunter Shepard, Minnesota Duluth
Senior Goaltender
Cohasset, Minn.
 
Shepard backstopped Minnesota Duluth to its first home sweep of the season, allowing only three goals in a pair of wins over Colorado College. On Friday, Shepard compiled 22 saves in a 4-3 win, including three short-handed saves to help kill three of four CC power plays. CC’s final goal Friday came with an extra attacker. The next night, Shepard made 25 more saves to record his second shutout of the season and 17th of his career, extended his NCHC career whitewashes record, in a 5-0 victory. He was named Third Star of the Game Saturday and helped kill all four Tiger power plays, again making a trio of short-handed saves. Saturday’s win gave Shepard 61 for his career, becoming UMD’s all-time goaltending wins leader. He finished the weekend with 47 saves on 50 shots, allowing only one 5-on-5 goal, for a .940 save percentage, while posting a 1.51 goals-against average to go with his clean sheet. He also helped UMD’s penalty kill finish 7-for-8. On the season, Shepard is now 7-4-1, while he upped his save percentage to .909 and lowered his GAA to 2.17.

OTHER NOMINEES:

Forward of the Week
Noah Cates, So., F, UMD – Tallied five points in a sweep of CC, all on the power play, with two assists on Friday and two goals and an assist in Saturday’s shutout.
 
Jordan Kawaguchi, Jr., F, UND – Totaled four points in a sweep of SCSU, dishing out two assists in Friday’s win, while setting up the first goal and scoring the overtime game-winner in Saturday’s 2-1 win.
 
Defenseman of the Week
Jack Clement, Fr., D, Miami – Tallied a goal and assisted on the game-winner in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Omaha, while he finished +3 with seven blocked shots in the series.
 
Rookie of the Week
Bobby Brink, Fr., F, Denver – Compiled four points in a split with WMU, assisting on DU’s lone goal Friday, while tallying a career-high three points, including two goals, in Saturday’s win.
 
Shane Pinto, Fr., F, UND – Recorded his first career multi-goal game with two goals in Friday’s 4-2 win over SCSU, while firing five shots on goal.
 
Goaltender of the Week
Devin Cooley, Jr., G, DU – In his first start of the season, totaled 24 saves in a 6-1 win Saturday against WMU for a .960 save percentage.
 
Ben Kraws, Fr., G, Miami – Earned his first collegiate win in net Saturday in his only game of the weekend, compiling 32 saves on 33 shots for a .970 save percentage in a 4-1 win at Omaha.
 
Adam Scheel, So., G, UND – Backstopped UND to a sweep of SCSU, totaling 28 saves on 31 shots for a .903 save percentage, while posting a 1.46 GAA in the two wins.

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