Bulldogs hockey notebook: Samberg, Perunovich making impact for USA at IIHF Men's World Championship
The Hermantown and Hibbing natives each have a pair of assists as the United States looks to finish group play undefeated.
DULUTH — Northland native and former Minnesota Duluth defenseman Dylan Samberg and Scott Perunovich have a pair of assists each through four of the United States’ seven preliminary-round games at the IIHF Men’s World Championship in Tampere, Finland.
The U.S. is 4-0 heading into its fifth preliminary-round game on Saturday against Denmark. Team USA wraps up Group A play against France on Sunday and Sweden on Monday.
Samberg, 24, of Hermantown, has a team-best plus-seven rating and is third in average ice time among the Americans at 18:35 per game. He is coming off his first full NHL season with the Winnipeg Jets where he recorded two goals and six assists in 63 games to help get the Jets to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Perunovich, 24, of Hibbing, has an even plus/minus rating and is averaging 15:11 of ice time per game. Since winning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as a Bulldog in 2019-20, the St. Louis Blues prospect has battled injury. He played just 22 games this season in the American Hockey League with the Springfield Thunderbirds, recording two goals and 18 assists, prior to the World Championship.
Samberg and Perunovich played three seasons together at UMD from 2016-2020, winning back-to-back NCAA titles in 2018 and 2019.
Soderberg a finalist for IIHF Female Player of the Year
Bulldogs fifth-year senior goaltender Emma Soderberg, who earlier this month was named player of the year in Sweden, is now a finalist for the new IIHF Female Player of the Year award.
Other nominees include Canada forward Sarah Fillier, Canada captain Marie-Philip Poulin, USA defenseman Caroline Harvey, USA forward Hilary Knight, Finland captain Jenni Hiirikoski and Slovakia forward Nela Lopusanova. The inaugural winner will be announced June 1.
Soderberg is coming off a record-setting season at UMD in which she set the program record for shutouts in a season (12) and career (22). She finished first in the NCAA in shutouts (12), second in goals against average (1.39) and third in save percentage (.938).
At the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship, Soderberg posted a .924 save percentage and 2.58 GAA with one shutout for Sweden to land on the all-tournament team. She made 51 saves on 54 shots against Canada in an overtime quarterfinal loss.
Stewart transferring to Minnesota
For the second-straight season, the Bulldogs are losing a senior defenseman to Minnesota via the transfer portal.
Taylor Stewart, who will be a graduate student in 2023-24, will play for the Gophers next season, according to a source. Stewart was a late entrant into the transfer portal and expected to be back with the Bulldogs next year, just as senior defenseman Lizi Norton was last offseason.
Stewart had a career-high four goals and eight points as a senior in 2022-23. She picked up two of her four goals in UMD’s 2-0 victory over Clarkson in an NCAA regional semifinal at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
Bulldog Bites: McMahon named captain
Fifth-year senior center Mannon McMahon has been named captain of the Bulldogs for 2023-24. Senior wing Clara Van Wieren and senior defenseman Nina Jobst-Smith will both serve as alternate captains. Stewart was expected to co-captain the Bulldogs next year with McMahon. UMD is losing all three of its 2022-23 captains — Ashton Bell, Gabbie Hughes and Kylie Hanley.
- Free agency is underway in the Premier Hockey Federation and a number of former Bulldogs are on the move. Elizabeth Giguere, previously of the Boston Pride, is returning home to Quebec to play for the Montreal Force (who also resigned Catherine Daoust). Katrina Mrazova said goodbye to the Connecticut Whale via her Instagram, but hasn't announced her next stop yet.
- No former Bulldogs remain in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs after Carson Soucy and the Seattle Kraken were ousted by the Dallas Stars in seven games, however, two former Bulldogs are still alive in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs — for now. Goaltender Hunter Shepard has backstopped the Hersey Bears (Washington Capitals affiliate) into the AHL East Conference finals. He and the Bears are 6-1 this postseason, with Shepard posting a .933 save percentage and 1.71 goals against average. Riley Tufte, who won two NCAA title at UMD with Shepard, and the Texas Stars are trying to reach the Western Conference finals, but trail the Milwaukee Admirals 2-1 in the best-of-five series. Tufte has two assists in six postseason games.