COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After handing out its Postgraduate Scholarship last Thursday, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) revealed the winners of its first three individual awards on Monday, with Minnesota Duluth collecting two. UMD junior forward Kobe Roth was selected the NCHC’s 2019-20 Sportsmanship Award winner, while North Dakota junior forward Jordan Kawaguchi and UMD junior defenseman Scott Perunovich split the NCHC’s Three Stars Award as co-winners. In addition, Dave Starman of CBS Sports Network was named the conference’s third annual Media Excellence Award winner.
Roth (Warroad, Minn.) has always played the game the right way and has excelled on the ice while doing so. He played in all 34 games for the Bulldogs this season while not committing a single penalty. He has committed only three minor penalties in his 106-game career, two of which came as a freshman, and he has never committed a major penalty. This season, Roth racked up a career-high 13 goals, third on the team, and a career-best 21 points with a +6 plus/minus. He appeared in all 42 games last season, helping the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships, committing only one minor penalty all season. As a freshman, he played in 30 games, including the 2018 National Championship, but broke his tibia (leg) during the game. Rather than feeling sorry for himself, he stayed with the team and cheered them to victory, celebrating on the ice in a chair. His hard work and rehab over the summer of 2018, and never-complain attitude, set up him for a successful rest of his career, and is part of why he’s the NCHC’s 2019-20 Sportsmanship Award Winner.
Kawaguchi (Abbotsford, B.C.) and Perunovich (Hibbing, Minn.) split the NCHC Three Stars Award after both earned First Star of the Game four times in conference play and both totaled 30 points in Three Stars of the Game voting (using a 5-3-1 scale) in conference games. They were the top two scorers in conference play, with Perunovich becoming the first defenseman to win the NCHC scoring title with 32 points, including a conference-best 28 assists. Kawaguchi was second with 30 points (7g, 23a), but led the NCHC with 1.36 points per game, after missing two games. Perunovich was +12 in conference play and blocked 43 shots, while Kawaguchi was +5 and put 44 shots on goal, helping North Dakota win the Penrose Cup. Both earned First-Team All-NCHC and are finalists for NCHC Player of the Year. Perunovich, a St. Louis Blues prospect, is also a finalist to repeat as Offensive Defenseman of the Year, while Kawaguchi, an undrafted free agent, is also a finalist for NCHC Forward of the Year. Perunovich was a five-time NCHC Defenseman of the Week during the season, while Kawaguchi was a three-time Forward of the Week and two-time NCHC Player of the Month. Both are Hobey Baker finalists and also earned First-Team All-CHN honors from College Hockey News on Monday, as well.
Starman has become synonymous with the NCHC, as the CBS Sports Network color analyst has been a stalwart on NCHC broadcasts since the conference began play. Starman was on the call for the NCHC’s first ever conference game, which aired on CBS Sports Network from Oxford, Ohio on Oct. 18, 2013. A fan favorite and passionate advocate for the NCHC, Starman puts in hours of work during the week watching and analyzing games and preparing for broadcasts. Once on site, he interviews several players and coaches to complement his already vast knowledge. In addition, he has attended several NCHC Media Days, conducting interviews and gathering background information for the season. Starman has been broadcasting college hockey games for a total of 16 seasons, dating back to CSTV (precursor to CBS Sports Network) in 2003-04, while also serving as a scout in the NHL for multiple teams over the years. Starman, along with play-by-play announcer Ben Holden and rinkside reporter Shireen Saski, make up one of, if not the best, hockey-announcing teams on television.
The NCHC Awards Committee, consisting of a couple head coaches, Athletic Directors and Faculty Athletics Representatives (FARs), selected the Sportsmanship Award winner, while the Media Excellence Award was voted on by the conference’s sports information directors (SIDs). The Three Stars Award goes to the player who accumulates the most Three Stars points during conference play only.
On Tuesday, the NCHC will announce both Offensive and Defensive Defenseman of the Year and Goaltender of the Year, while Wednesday the conference will award Forward, Defensive Forward and Rookie of the Year. Finally, on Thursday, NCHC Player of the Year, Herb Brooks Coach of the Year and Senior Scholar-Athlete will be revealed.
Last Thursday, Denver’s Erich Fear was named the NCHC’s Postgraduate Scholarship winner.