COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With the regular season in the books, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) revealed its 2017-18 All-Rookie Team on Tuesday, which features players from four different teams, including a trio from St. Cloud State. The Huskies placed forwards Easton Brodzinski and Blake Lizotte, along with goaltender Dávid Hrenák, on the squad, while North Dakota forward Grant Mismash, Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell and Minnesota Duluth blue liner Scott Perunovich rounded out the NCHC All-Rookie Team.
Half of the 2017-18 NCHC All-Rookie Team was unanimous selections, all on the back end. Both defensemen in Mitchell (Calahoo, Alberta) and Perunovich (Hibbing, Minn.), along with Hrenák (Považská Bystrica, Slovakia), were voted unanimously to the team, as all three received the maximum seven first-place votes and 21 points. Lizotte (Lindstrom, Minn.) was the top vote-getter at forward, earning six first-place votes and 19 points, while Mismash (Edina, Minn.) and Brodzinski (Blaine, Minn.) each picked up five first-place votes and 17 and 16 points, respectively.
The All-Rookie Team includes the top five freshman point-scorers in NCHC play this past season, led by Perunovich, who paced all NCHC rookies with both 24 points and 16 assists in 24 conference games from the blue line for a point-per-game average. He was a five-time NCHC Player of the Week and finished tied for a conference-best +12 among NCHC rookies in conference play, while blocking 21 shots. Also on the All-Rookie Team blue line is Mitchell, who racked up 16 points, including 14 assists, in 24 conference games. Ten of his 14 helpers came on the power play, while the Chicago Blackhawks draft pick blocked 36 shots, fired 40 shots on goal and ended with a +8 plus/minus. The third unanimous selection, Hrenák, started 14 conference games in net and appeared in 15 for the Huskies, posting a 9-3-2 record (.714 win percentage). The three-time NCHC Rookie of the Week logged three shutouts in NCHC play, while compiling a .929 save percentage, which led all NCHC goaltenders in conference play, and a 1.94 goals-against average, which was second among all NCHC netminders.
Brodzinski led all NCHC freshman forwards in scoring with 18 points in 23 conference games (0.78 ppg), while his 10 goals were tops among all NCHC rookies, including five on the power play and four game-winning goals. He fired 49 shots on goal and finished +2 in conference play. His classmate, Lizotte, was right behind with 17 points on six goals and 11 assists in 23 NCHC games (0.74 ppg), while he tied with Perunovich for the best plus/minus among freshmen at +12. Lizotte also won 59.4 percent of his faceoffs, which led NCHC rookies. Mismash led all conference freshmen with 70 shots on goal, while racking up 16 points, third among NCHC rookie forwards, on eight goals and eight assists. The Nashville Predators prospect ended NCHC play +2 in 23 games (0.70 ppg), and was a four-time NCHC Rookie of the Week.
Voting was conducted by the eight head coaches at each institution. Coaches voted for six forwards, four defensemen and two goaltenders, awarding first-place votes for six players (three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender) and second-place votes for the other six selections. Three points were awarded for a first-place vote while one point was awarded for a second-place vote. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.
The NCHC will announce its All-Conference Teams on Wednesday and its individual award finalists on Thursday. Individual award winners will be announced at the NCHC Awards Celebration in Saint Paul, Minn. on Thursday, March 15.
2017-18 NCHC All-Rookie Team
F: Blake Lizotte, St. Cloud State – 19 (6 first-place votes)
F: Grant Mismash, North Dakota – 17 (5)
F: Easton Brodzinski, St. Cloud State – 16 (5)
D: Ian Mitchell, Denver – 21 (7) (unanimous)
D: Scott Perunovich, Minnesota Duluth – 21 (7) (unanimous)
G: Dávid Hrenák, St. Cloud State – 21 (7) (unanimous)