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UMD men's hockey: Swaney, Kaiser highlight Bulldogs' All-NCHC selections

Senior wing Nick Swaney was an All-NCHC First Team selection while freshman defenseman Wyatt Kaiser was an honorable mention and All-Rookie Team pick.

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Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) and defenseman Connor Kelley (25) celebrate Swaney's goal on St. Cloud State in the first period Saturday, Feb. 27, at Amsoil Arena. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)
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The NCHC dropped the puck on its awards week Monday, with four from Minnesota Duluth landing on the various all-league teams.

Senior wing Nick Swaney was the Bulldogs lone All-NCHC first-team selection this season after finishing tied for second in the league with North Dakota senior Jordan Kawaguchi in scoring with 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points in 24 games. A Minnesota Wild draft pick, Swaney also finished second in the league in goals to North Dakota sophomore forward Shane Pinto.

“He’s had a really good year,” Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin said last week of Swaney after he posted a hat trick in a win over St. Cloud State. “He’s been good from the start. He’s been consistent. He’s been a good leader and one of the vocal guys on our team.”

Bulldogs junior wing and captain Noah Cates — a Philadelphia Flyers prospect — landed on the second-team after being a first-team selection a year ago. Cates had five goals and 12 assists in 24 games.

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Junior wing Cole Koepke, also a first-teamer a year ago, was named an honorable mention by scoring 12 goals and seven assists in 24 games. The Hermantown native and Tampa Bay Lighting prospect put together a five-game goal streak during the second half when he picked up eight of his 12 goals.

Freshman defenseman Wyatt Kaiser was also an honorable mention. The Chicago Blackhawks draft pick also made the six-person NCHC All-Rookie Team after blocking the second-most shots among NCHC freshmen. He’s posted nine assists this year, with six coming on the power play, while playing in all 24 games this year for UMD.

The NCHC will be announcing the rest of its individual awards throughout the week in the lead-up to the 2021 Frozen Faceoff at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The third-seeded Bulldogs play sixth-seeded Western Michigan in the quarterfinals at 7:37 p.m. on Saturday.

This marks the second consecutive season the league has resorted to a string of daily awards announcements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the exception of the all-league teams, the NCHC typically holds an awards banquet on the eve of its postseason semifinals.

Here is the league’s awards schedule for the rest of the week:

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  • Tuesday: Sportsmanship Award and Three Stars Award
  • Wednesday: Forward of the Year, Defensive Forward of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, Offensive Defenseman of the Year and Defensive Defenseman of the Year.
  • Thursday: Herb Brooks Coach of the Year, NCHC Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, NCHC Senior Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

The league’s postseason awards are voted on by the eight head coaches, plus eight media members — one covering each school. The News Tribune’s Matt Wellens is the Bulldogs media representative.

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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