COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After handing out individual awards throughout the last week, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) revealed its biggest and final three award winners of 2019-20 on Thursday, with three teams represented. Taking home NCHC Player of the Year honors in 2019-20 is Minnesota Duluth junior defenseman Scott Perunovich, while North Dakota head coach Brad Berry was selected the NCHC’s Herb Brooks Coach of the Year. Miami senior forward Karch Bachman garnered the NCHC’s 2019-20 Senior Scholar-Athlete Award for his work on the ice and in the classroom.
Perunovich is the first Bulldog, but fifth defenseman, to win NCHC Player of the Year, while Berry becomes the NCHC’s second two-time winner of the Herb Brooks Coach of the Year, after also winning the award in 2016 (Bob Motzko is the other two-time winner). Bachman becomes the first RedHawk to capture Senior Scholar-Athlete honors from the NCHC.
Along with Player of the Year, Perunovich (Hibbing, Minn.) also won NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year for the third-straight season on Tuesday and shared the NCHC’s Three Stars Award on Monday. The Hobey Baker Award finalist is also now a three-time First-Team All-NCHC selection, again earning the honor earlier in March, becoming the first NCHC player to earn three First-Team selections.
Perunovich, a St. Louis Blues draft pick, is the first defenseman to win the NCHC scoring title, racking up 32 points in 24 conference games in 2019-20, including an NCHC-best 28 assists. Eighteen of his points came on the power play, tops in the conference, but just one of his four goals. He recorded a point in 17 of 24 NCHC games, including 10 multi-point outings and four three-point games, both tying for first in the NCHC. Perunovich averaged 1.33 points per game in conference play, ranking second, while he fired 37 shots on goal and blocked 43, which were fifth in the conference. His +12 plus/minus tied for eighth in conference play, while he anchored both of UMD’s special teams units.
In addition, Perunovich was a five-time NCHC Defenseman of the Week and the NCHC’s February Player of the Month this season. Overall in 2019-20, Perunovich ranked second nationally in defenseman scoring with 40 points (6g, 34a), while his 34 helpers were second in the NCAA among all skaters. He tied for the NCAA lead with 22 power play points (3g, 19a). Perunovich was named College Hockey News’ Player of the Year on Tuesday, and was named First-Team All-USCHO this season, as well.
The top bench boss in 2019-20, Berry guided North Dakota to a 26-5-4 record overall in the regular season before the postseason was cut short, an eight-win improvement from last season. In NCHC play, the fifth-year head coach led North Dakota to the Penrose Cup as outright NCHC regular-season champions, going 17-4-3-2, after being picked to finish fourth in the NCHC Preseason Media Poll. North Dakota made a four-spot improvement this season after placing fifth in the NCHC in 2018-19. It was UND’s first Penrose Cup since 2015-16.
Nationally, Berry guided the Fighting Hawks to finish 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, after starting at No. 18 in the preseason, and finished the season ranked second in the poll. Berry was also named Coach of the Year this season by College Hockey News and USCHO.
Bachman (Wolcottville, Ind.) captured the NCHC’s top academic honor, compiling a 3.88 cumulative grade-point average while majoring in finance. The Florida Panthers draft pick is a four-time member of the NCHC’s Academic All-Conference Team and a four-time NCHC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete for having at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA after each season. Bachman is on schedule to graduate this spring, and was also active in the Oxford community during his career, serving food to community members during Berge’s Bistro/Rico’s Restaurante, while volunteering at a local senior citizens center and elementary school, among other activities.
In addition to his work in the classroom and community, Bachman chipped in 19 points (4g, 15a) while playing in all 24 NCHC games this season. He tied for second on the RedHawks and ninth in the NCHC in overall scoring in 2019-20 with 31 points in 34 games on 10 goals and 21 assists. Bachman was fourth in the NCHC this season with 130 shots on goal and led the RedHawks with a +3 plus/minus. For his career, Bachman finished with 69 points on 29 goals and 40 assists in 143 career games for Miami.
Voting for the NCHC’s individual year-end playing awards, such as Player of the Year, was conducted by the eight head coaches at each institution and eight media members, one covering each member school. For the Herb Brooks Coach of the Year, NCHC Athletic Directors also received a vote. The Senior Scholar-Athlete winner was determined in a vote by the conference’s Faculty Athletics Representatives (FARs).
The other NCHC individual awards the conference has handed out over the last week are: