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Record-Tying Seven NCHC Players Garner 2019-20 AHCA All-American Honors

By NCHC, 04/11/20, 11:00PM EDT


Four NCHC teams represented on First Team, three Bulldogs land on Second Team

GLOUCESTER, Mass. – Tying a conference record, seven National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) players were honored as 2019-20 CCM/AHCA Division I All-Americans, the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) revealed on ESPN’s SportsCenter Saturday night. Four NCHC teams are represented among the All-Americans, all on the West First Team, also tying an NCHC record, while three players from Minnesota Duluth were selected to the West Second Team.

Earning AHCA West First-Team All-American are North Dakota junior Jordan Kawaguchi and Western Michigan senior Hugh McGing at forward, along with Denver junior Ian Mitchell and Minnesota Duluth junior Scott Perunovich making up the First-Team blue line. A pair of Minnesota State players claimed the remaining two spots on the First Team. Perunovich becomes the NCHC’s first three-time All-American, claiming Second-Team honors last year and First-Team honors as a freshman in 2017-18.

On the West All-American Second Team are Minnesota Duluth sophomore forwards Noah Cates and Cole Koepke, as well as UMD senior goaltender Hunter Shepard. Shepard becomes a two-time All-American, receiving First-Team accolades last year. The four Bulldogs to be named All-Americans are the most from one team this season and match St. Cloud State’s four from last season among NCHC teams. Minnesota State was the only other team with at least three All-Americans.

All seven All-Americans from the NCHC were also tabbed First-Team All-Conference this season, while the NCHC led all conferences with seven honorees. Hockey East and ECAC Hockey each placed five on the East All-America Teams, while the WCHA put four players on the West All-America squads and the Big Ten had two. The NCHC was also home to seven All-Americans in 2015-16 and 2016-17, with the only other time the NCHC had four First-Team All-Americans was in 2016-17.

Perunovich (Hibbing, Minn.), who was also named the 2020 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner on Saturday, was the 2019-20 NCHC Player of the Year and selected Player of the Year by College Hockey News this season. A three-time First-Team All-NCHC selection, Perunovich ranked second nationally in defenseman scoring and 10th overall with 40 points this season, including six goals and 34 assists, with the 34 helpers second nationally among all players and first among blue liners. The three-time NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year tied for the NCAA lead with 22 power play points (3g, 19a), as well. Perunovich, who signed with the St. Louis Blues March 27, posted a +18 plus/minus and blocked 58 shots on the season. A five-time NCHC Defenseman of the Week and NCHC February Player of the Month, Perunovich tallied a point in 22 of 34 games, playing in every game this season.

Kawaguchi (Abbotsford, B.C.) was selected 2019-20 Player of the Year by, 2019-20 NCHC Forward of the Year and the co-Three Stars Award winner in the NCHC with Perunovich. The runner-up for NCHC Player of the Year and a Hobey Hat Trick finalist, Kawaguchi 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, while his 13 game-winning points led the NCAA. The undrafted free agent recorded a point in 24 of 33 games played, including 15 multi-point games, which were second nationally. Kawaguchi was a three-time NCHC Forward of the Week and two-time NCHC Player of the Month, including National Player of the Month in November. The UND assistant captain finished with a +21 plus/minus, tying for 12th in the NCAA.

McGing (Chicago, Ill.) totaled 35 points in 35 games, averaging 1.00 points per game, while scoring 13 goals and adding 22 assists. The WMU captain recorded a +18 plus/minus, while potting three game-winning goals and firing 74 shots on goal. McGing, who recently signed with the St. Louis Blues like Perunovich, notched 10 multi-point games and tallied a point in 22 contests. He was also named a Senior CLASS Award First-Team All-American on Friday after being a top-five finalist for the award. McGing finished his career by earning the final NCHC Forward of the Week honor of the season. He is WMU’s first First-Team All-American since Wayne Gagne in 1986-87.

Mitchell (Calahoo, Alta.) is a two-time All-NCHC selection, after being named Second-Team All-NCHC last year, and also garnered All-CHN Second-Team honors from College Hockey News this season. The Chicago Blackhawks prospect was a finalist for NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year and was a three-time NCHC Defenseman of the Week this season. Mitchell compiled 32 points on the year, playing in all 36 games, on 10 goals and 22 assists. The 10 goals tied for fifth among NCAA blue liners. The Denver captain finished with a +7 plus/minus, fired 100 shots on goal and blocked 43 shots.

Shepard (Cohasset, Minn.) repeated as NCHC Goaltender of the Year this season, only the second NCHC goalie to do so. The undrafted free agent finished the season with a record of 22-10-2 (.676 win percentage), starting every game and playing 99.2 percent of the time, tops in the NCAA. Shepard also broke the NCAA record for consecutive starts, having finished his career starting 115 straight games. The Mike Richter Award semifinalist compiled a 2.18 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage with two shutouts in 2019-20, while recording 826 saves (24.3 saves per game). Shepard was the only NCHC goaltender to start all 24 conference games this season, while the UMD co-captain was a seven-time NCHC Goaltender of the Week this year and the January NCHC Goaltender of the Month.   

Cates (Stillwater, Minn.) and Koepke (Hermantown, Minn.) both compiled 33 points on the season, with each playing in all 34 games for the Bulldogs. Koepke scored 16 goals and added 17 assists, while Cates compiled 14 goals and 19 assists. Koepke, a Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick, finished with a +14 plus/minus and ranked third nationally with 156 shots on goal during the season. Three of Koepke’s goals were game-winners, while he notched seven multi-point outings and had a point in 25 games. Cates, meanwhile, also had seven multi-point games with a point in at least 23 of them. A Philadelphia Flyers draft pick, Cates tallied two game-winners, finished +7 and put 91 shots on goal. Cates was also a finalist for NCHC Forward of the Year.

The AHCA All-America teams are sponsored by CCM Hockey and chosen by members of the American Hockey Coaches Association, including the 60 NCAA Division I men’s head coaches. To see the complete AHCA All-America Teams, click here.

The NCHC has now produced 42 AHCA All-Americans in its seven-year history.

Goaltender: Dryden McKay, SO, Minnesota State
Defenseman: Ian Mitchell, JR, Denver
Defenseman: Scott Perunovich, JR, Minnesota Duluth
Forward: Jordan Kawaguchi, JR, North Dakota
Forward: Hugh McGing, SR, Western Michigan

Forward: Marc Michaelis, SR, Minnesota State

Goaltender: Hunter Shepard, SR, Minnesota Duluth
Defenseman: Cole Hults, JR, Penn State
Defenseman: Connor Mackey, JR, Minnesota State
Defenseman: Alec Rauhauser, SR, Bowling Green
Forward: Noah Cates, SO, Minnesota Duluth
Forward: Cole Koepke, SO, Minnesota Duluth

Forward: Nate Sucese, SR, Penn State