COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich added one final prestigious honor to his college career, as he was named the 2020 Jim Johannson College Player of the Year, USA Hockey announced Friday. In addition, North Dakota incoming freshman blue liner Jake Sanderson was tabbed the 2020 Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year by USA Hockey on Thursday.
Perunovich (Hibbing, Minn.), who completed his junior season in March and signed with the St. Louis Blues, is just the second National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) player to earn USA Hockey’s College Hockey Player of the Year honor, joining former Denver and current New Jersey Devils blue liner Will Butcher in 2017. Sanderson (Whitefish, Mont.) is the second straight incoming NCHC player to capture Junior Player of the Year from USA Hockey after Western Michigan rising sophomore blue liner Ronnie Attard claimed the award last year.
Perunovich also became the NCHC’s second, and Minnesota Duluth’s sixth, Hobey Baker Award winner on April 11. The three-time All-American, including First Team in 2019-20, was also selected the 2019-20 NCHC Player of the Year and won NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year for the third-straight season. The three-time First-Team All-NCHC honoree finished second nationally among defenseman scoring and 10th overall in the NCAA with 40 points this season, including six goals and 34 assists. The 34 helpers were second nationally among all players and first among blue liners. A two-time national champion, Perunovich also tied for the NCAA lead with 22 power play points (3g, 19a). He posted a +18 plus/minus and blocked 58 shots, playing in all 34 games this season.
The College Player of the Year award was established in 1994 to recognize the accomplishments of the top American-born player in men’s college hockey. In 2019, the Jim Johannson College Player of the Year Award was renamed in honor of the late Jim Johannson, who played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin and spent two decades as an executive at USA Hockey.
Sanderson served as the captain of this year’s USA U-18 National Team Development Program (NTDP) team and finished with seven goals and 29 points in 47 games, most among all defensemen. The 6-foot-2 blue liner was also named MVP of the 2020 BioSteel All-American Game, finishing with two assists. In 2018-19, Sanderson was captain of the U-17 NTDP team, totaling 24 points, including 20 assists, in 44 games. He is expected to be one of the top American-born draft picks in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
The Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year, specifically for players who have played for a U.S.-based junior hockey team, is picked by a high-quality panel of junior coaches and administrators. The honor is named after Dave Tyler, who served on the USA Hockey Board of Directors for 32 years. He also played an instrumental role in the development and growth of junior hockey in the United States.