COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Five National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) players garnered national recognition from U.S. College Hockey Online (USCHO.com) for their performance this season by being named to one of three All-USCHO Teams for 2020-21. A pair of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were selected to the First and Second Teams with one on each, while three NCHC players from three different teams, including a third UND skater, landed on the All-USCHO Third Team.
North Dakota sophomore forward Shane Pinto was named First-Team All-USCHO, while his senior teammate Jordan Kawaguchi was tabbed to the Second Team after being a First-Team honoree last year. Kawaguchi was the USCHO Player of the Year in 2019-20, as well. On the Third Team are Minnesota Duluth junior Cole Koepke at forward, as well as UND senior Matt Kiersted and St. Cloud State junior Nick Perbix, who make up the Third-Team blue line.
The five NCHC players on the All-USCHO Teams are the Conference’s most since placing six on the USCHO squads in 2017-18. The five NCHC representatives are also the second-most from one conference this year behind only Hockey East’s six.
Pinto (Franklin Square, N.Y.) was a First-Team All-American, the unanimous 2020-21 NCHC Player of the Year and a Hobey Hat Trick finalist this season. He also became the first player to win both NCHC Forward and Defensive Forward of the Year in the same season. Pinto, who signed with the Ottawa Senators on April 1, finishes ninth nationally with 32 points this season, while scoring 15 goals, which was seventh in the NCAA, and adding 17 assists in 28 games. Pinto was second nationally in faceoff wins with 388 and ranked fourth in the NCAA with a .619 win percentage on draws. Pinto was also a First-Team All-College Hockey News (CHN) selection this season, a two-time NCHC Player of the Week this year and the January NCHC Player of the Month.
Kawaguchi (Abbotsford, B.C.) was a Second-Team All-American this season and the winner of the 2020-21 Senior CLASS Award. Along with being a two-time All-USCHO honoree, Kawaguchi is a two-time All-American and two-time First-Team All-NCHC selection. He was a Second-Team All-CHN honoree this year, as well. This year’s UND captain ended the season fourth nationally in scoring with 36 points in 28 games, while his 1.29 points per game were seventh in the NCAA. Kawaguchi, who signed with the Dallas Stars as a free agent on March 31, scored 10 goals and chipped in 26 assists as a senior, which were third in the NCAA. He was the NCHC Player of the Month in December, as well.
Koepke (Hermantown, Minn.), who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday after three seasons at UMD, collected Honorable Mention All-NCHC honors this season after garnering First-Team All-NCHC last year. Koepke potted 15 goals as a junior this season, tying for the NCHC lead and tying for seventh nationally, while adding eight assists for 23 points in 28 games. Two of his goals were game-winners, while the assistant captain also tallied a hat trick this season. The speedy winger’s 137 shots on goal in 2020-21 were tops in the NCHC and third in the NCAA.
Although Kiersted (Elk River, Minn.) was Third-Team All-USCHO this year, he was tabbed Second-Team All-America and was a First-Team All-CHN and First-Team All-NCHC honoree in 2020-21. Kiersted, who made his NHL debut already with the Florida Panthers on April 3 after signing as a free agent two days earlier, was the runner-up for NCHC Defensive Defenseman of the Year in 2021 (to his own teammate, Jacob Bernard-Docker, who made his NHL debut on Wednesday night with Ottawa). Kiersted finished tied for fifth among NCAA defensemen in scoring with 22 points in 29 games. The UND alternate captain scored three goals and dished out 19 assists this season, tying for second nationally among blue liners. His 52 blocked shots were second-most in the NCHC and 10th nationally.
The other All-USCHO Third-Team blue liner is also from Elk River, Minn. in Perbix. Perbix, like Koepke, is a draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Perbix was a Second-Team All-NCHC honoree this season and runner-up for NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year. He finished tied for fourth nationally among defenseman scoring with 23 points in 31 games, while scoring seven goals, which was fourth among NCAA blue liners, and dishing out 16 assists. Perbix blocked 44 shots this year and fired 84 on goal, tying for third among NCAA defensemen. He was a three-time NCHC Defenseman of the Week in the regular season and garnered NCHC Frozen Faceoff All-Tournament Team and NCAA Northeast Region All-Tournament Team honors in the postseason.
Voting for the All-USCHO Teams was conducted by USCHO.com staff members. Next week, the USCHO.com Coach, Rookie and Player of the Year will be announced.
First Team All-USCHO
F: Cole Caufield, Wisconsin
F: Shane Pinto, North Dakota
F: Odeen Tufto, Quinnipiac
D: Cam York, Michigan
D: Zac Jones, Massachusetts
G: Dryden McKay, Minnesota State
Second Team All-USCHO
F: Bobby Trivigno, Massachusetts
F: Sampo Ranta, Minnesota
F: Jordan Kawaguchi, North Dakota
D: David Farrance, Boston University
D: Matthew Kessel, Massachusetts
G: Filip Lindberg, Massachusetts
Third Team All-USCHO
F: Matt Boldy, Boston College
F: Colin Bilek, Army West Point
F: Cole Koepke, Minnesota Duluth
D: Matt Kiersted, North Dakota
D: Nick Perbix, St. Cloud State
G: Jack LaFontaine, Minnesota