COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After leading his team to a turnaround season and a regular-season championship, North Dakota head coach Brad Berry has been named 2019-20 Coach of the Year by USCHO.com, U.S. College Hockey Online announced Wednesday, while two National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) juniors collected First-Team honors nationally from USCHO. North Dakota junior forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Minnesota Duluth junior defenseman Scott Perunovich, both named Hobey Baker Award finalists earlier Wednesday, were tabbed to the All-USCHO First Team on Tuesday, with Perunovich earning the honor for a second time.
Berry earned Coach of the Year honors from USCHO for the second time in five years, also garnering the award in 2016 after leading UND to its eighth NCAA National Championship. He is the third different NCHC head coach and fourth NCHC coach overall to claim USCHO Coach of the Year in the last five seasons (former Denver coach Jim Montgomery in 2017 and UMD’s Scott Sandelin in 2018).
This season, Berry guided North Dakota to a 26-5-4 record in the regular season before the postseason was cut short, an eight-win improvement from last season. The Fighting Hawks finished first in the Pairwise Rankings, which determine the NCAA Tournament field, and would have been the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, were it held. UND was also ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com Poll seven weeks during the season and currently sit at No. 3. In NCHC play, Berry led North Dakota to the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions, going 17-4-3-2, after being picked to finish fourth in the NCHC Preseason Media Poll. Berry is also a finalist for the NCHC’s Herb Brooks Coach of the Year Award, which will be announced on Thursday, March 26.
Along with USCHO and Hobey Baker honors, Kawaguchi and Perunovich were both named First-Team All-NCHC and are finalists for NCHC Player of the Year (also announced March 26) this season. Joining Kawaguchi and Perunovich on the All-USCHO First Team are a pair of players from Minnesota State (forward Marc Michaelis and goalie Dryden McKay) and two Hockey East players (Providence forward Jack Dugan and Boston University defenseman David Farrance). The NCHC has now placed at least two players on the All-USCHO First Team each of the last five seasons, including Perunovich as a freshman in 2017-18.
Kawaguchi (Abbotsford, B.C.) finished second nationally in scoring with 45 points, including 30 assists, which tied for sixth in the country. Five of his 15 goals were game-winners, which tied for fifth nationally. The undrafted free agent recorded a point in 24 of 33 games played, including 15 multi-point games, which were second nationally. Kawaguchi’s six three-point games were also second in the NCAA. The UND assistant captain was a three-time NCHC Player of the Week and two-time NCHC Player of the Month, including National Player of the Month in November. The NCHC Forward of the Year finalist finished with a +21 plus/minus, tying for 12th in the NCAA, while averaging 1.36 points per game on the year.
Perunovich (Hibbing, Minn.) is the first NCHC player to become a three-time First-Team All-NCHC selection and is also a finalist for NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year, which he has won the last two seasons. The St. Louis Blues draft pick became the first defenseman to win the NCHC scoring title totaling 32 points (4g, 28a) in conference play. Overall, Perunovich compiled 40 points, second among all NCAA defensemen, on six goals and 34 assists, with the 34 helpers leading all NCAA blue liners and ranking second nationally overall. His 22 power play points tied for first in the country. A five-time NCHC Defenseman of the Week and NCHC February Player of the Month, Perunovich tallied a point in 22 of 34 games, including 12 multi-point games, which ranked second nationally among blue liners. He blocked 58 shots and recorded a +18 plus/minus on the season.
The All-USCHO Teams and individual awards are voted on by all 12 conference columnists on the site.