“I am extremely honored and honored to be the recipient of this year’s Hobey Baker Prize,” said Perunovich in an interview with SportsCenter.
Perunovich is the sixth Minnesota Duluth player to win the Hobey Baker Award, joining defender Tom Kurvers (1984), right wing Bill Watson (1985), left wing Chris Marinucci (1994), right wing Junior Lessard (2004) and the Jack Connolly Center (2012).
Perunovich called it a “privilege to join them”.
The vote of the 60 Division I hockey head coaches and the fan vote created a bunch of 10 finalists for the award. Three players from this group were selected by a 30-member selection committee and additional fans voting for the finalists’ Hobey Baker Hat Trick.
With Perunovich, the finalists were Jordan Kawaguchi, a junior striker from the University of North Dakota, and Jeremy Swayman, a junior goalkeeper from the University of Maine.
Perunovich helped the Bulldogs compete in consecutive NCAA national championships as a freshman and sophomore. His team was ranked fifth in the country when the NCAA season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bulldogs were looking for the first hat-trick from Michigan in 1951-1953.
“The wait is still a national championship, and I have been fortunate to be part of two of them,” Perunovich told SportsCenter.
He said it was “obviously not the end of the season we wanted”, but he recognized “the much bigger situation” of the COVID-19 crisis and expressed his gratitude to all “men and women” frontline in this battle. “
Perunovich has collected 40 points in 34 games this season, the second-highest points for an NCAA defenseman. He has 105 points in 115 career games. He was a first-team All-American in first year and a second-team All-American in second year, and he appears to be a junior again – a rare feat for a college defender.
The Hibbing, Minnesota, native was selected 45th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He accepted a two-year entry-level contract with the Blues in March. If the NHL resumes its regular season, its contract begins this year; if not, it will start next year. If he hadn’t signed with St. Louis, Perunovich would have been eligible to become a free agent on August 15.
ESPN college hockey analyst Chris Peters ranked Perunovich, 5 feet 10 inches and 175 pounds, 45th on his list of the top 50 NHL affiliates.
Peters wrote in his screening report: “Perunovich has the ability to control changes at the college level and improves on one of the best teams in the country when he is on the ice. He takes care of his own area and has an aggressive game at both ends of the ice. The rink is his best asset, because he can escape the pressure and quickly make the pucks rise on the ice. He sees the ice well and has a great feeling for the game in transition. Perunovich will look for the pass well before considering a shot and distribute extremely well. Concerns about his height were reduced due to his sense of skating, hockey and his improved physical strength. He was more physical this season and posed more problems for opposing players in the physical game. There was no skater in the NCAA who had a greater impact on his team’s success than Perunovich this season. He could be an NHL contributor immediately if the Blues need him. “