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College men's hockey: Bulldogs land record four players on 2019-20 All-NCHC first team

UMD's Scott Perunovich, Hunter Shepard, Cole Koepke and Noah Cates make up four of the seven first-team honorees.

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Scott Perunovich (7) of Minnesota Duluth controls the puck against Micah Miller (15) of St. Cloud during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota (Clint Austin /caustin@duluthnews.com)

The 2019-20 Bulldogs accomplished what only the 2018-19 St. Cloud State Huskies did on Wednesday, which was place four players on the NCHC All-Conference First Team.

Senior goaltender Hunter Shepard, junior defenseman Scott Perunovich and sophomore wings Cole Koepke and Noah Cates were all named first teamers, a record for the Minnesota Duluth program, topping the three named to the All-WCHA first team in 1984-85.

Perunovich is the first player in NCHC history to make the first team in three consecutive seasons and second Bulldog to be a three-time all-conference honoree, joining Jack Connolly from 2010-12 in the WCHA.

A Hibbing native, Perunovich is also the first defenseman to win the NCHC scoring title with a league-leading 28 assists and 32 points in 24 NCHC games, beating out fellow All-NCHC first-team pick Jordan Kawaguchi, a junior forward out of North Dakota who was second to Perunovich with 23 assists and 30 points in 22 games.

Like Perunovich, this was the third all-league honor for Shepard, who was a second-team pick as a sophomore in 2017-18 and first teamer a year ago as a junior. The Cohasset native led all vote getters with 43 points after posting a conference best .923 save percentage and 2.13 goals against average among NCHC goaltenders who played at least half of their team’s league games.

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Koepke, of Hermantown, finished with the most goals in NCHC play this season, tallying 14. His 26 points were fourth in conference play behind Cates’ 27. Cates had 11 goals in NCHC play, tying him for second behind Koepke.

Western Michigan senior forward Hugh McGing tied Koepke in voting, resulting in four forwards and seven total members on the All-NCHC first team. Denver junior defenseman Ian Mitchell was the other first-team defenseman.

2019-20 All NCHC Teams

Voting conducted by one coach and one media member from each school. Coaches could not vote for their own players, meaning 15 first-place votes is the maximum a player can receive.

First Team

F: Jordan Kawaguchi, Jr., North Dakota – 42 points (14 first-place votes)

F: Noah Cates, So., Minnesota Duluth – 29 points (9)

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F: Cole Koepke, So., Minnesota Duluth – 24 points (6)

F: Hugh McGing, Sr., Western Michigan – 24 points (6)

D: Scott Perunovich, Jr., Minnesota Duluth – 42 points (14)

D: Ian Mitchell, Jr., Denver – 26 points (6)

G: Hunter Shepard, Sr., Minnesota Duluth – 43 points (14)

Second Team

F: Emilio Pettersen, So., Denver – 20 points (5)

F: Gordie Green, Sr., Miami – 14 points (3)

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D: Matt Kiersted, Jr., North Dakota – 24 points (6)

D: Jack Ahcan, Sr., St. Cloud State – 19 points (4)

G: Dávid Hrenák, Jr., St. Cloud State – 11 points (2)

Honorable Mention

F: Chris Wilkie, Sr., Colorado College – 12 points (2)

F: Nick Poehling, Sr., St. Cloud State – 7 points (2)

F: Westin Michaud, Sr., North Dakota – 4 points

F: Taylor Ward, So., Omaha – 4 points

D: Mattias Samuelsson, So., Western Michigan – 7 points (1)

D: Colton Poolman, Sr., North Dakota – 5 points (1)

G: Adam Scheel, So., North Dakota – 4 points

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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