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On Campus: Blues prospect Perunovich leading way at Minnesota Duluth

Junior defenseman expected to be in candiate for Hobey Baker Award

by Mark Divver

Scott Perunovich is the perfect example of a prospect showing his NHL team something in development camp that isn't on the scoresheet and can't be measured in strength and conditioning tests.

A junior defenseman at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Perunovich was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the second round (No. 45) of the 2018 NHL Draft, but was quiet in his first development camp. 

"He was creeping around, wasn't sure where he's at,'' said Bill Armstrong, the Blues assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting.

It was a different story in his second camp in June. The 21-year-old was front and center when the players did fun, team-building activities away from the rink.

"This kid, once he gets comfortable, I think he won almost everything, from the go-karting to the paintball. His teams were always winning. That's just something you grow to love about him, his competitive nature,'' Armstrong said.

His will to win on the ice is well-established after helping Minnesota Duluth to consecutive NCAA championships.

Perunovich, whose specialty is running the power play, had 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 42 games in 2017-18, his draft year. In 2018-19, he had 29 points (three goals, 26 assists) in 39 games.

"He probably could have put a lot more points on the board (last season), to be honest with you, really revved up the points," Armstrong said. "But he leads for the good of the team. He puts that first."

Expected to be a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award given to college hockey's top player, Perunovich has 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) in 14 games this season for Minnesota Duluth, which is 7-6-1 and second in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. 

"He not only produces numbers, he produces numbers on a winning team,'' said Armstrong. "He plays his best in the big moments. When he's called to take his team over the top, he finds that extra gear at the right moment.''

Once Perunovich (5-foot-9, 172 pounds) turns pro, Armstrong is confident he will adjust to defending against bigger players.

"The good ones always find ways to do that, by different angles, by using your stick more and not getting involved in the battle physically but lifting sticks and finding different ways to win puck battles," Armstrong said. "That's what you love about him, his gamesmanship.'' 


Goals accomplished

After establishing himself as a solid all-around defenseman during his first three seasons at Northeastern University, senior Ryan Shea is ramping up his scoring.

Shea, selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round (No. 121) of the 2015 NHL Draft, scored five points (two goals, three assists) in two games and was named MVP when Northeastern won the Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Ireland last weekend. 

Shea (6-1, 177), who is Northeastern's captain, scored the game-winner in victories against New Hampshire and Colgate. He has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in his past seven games.

The 22-year-old played youth hockey in Massachusetts for a South Shore Kings team that included Noah Hanifin of the Calgary Flames, Colin White of the Ottawa Senators and John Marino of the Pittsburgh Penguins.


Good Weatherby

After having five points (three goals, two assists) in 36 games as a freshman, forward Jasper Weatherby of the University of North Dakota has eight points (five goals, three assists) in 15 games this season.

The 21-year-old center (6-4, 202) was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the fourth round (No. 102) of the 2018 NHL Draft.

Weatherby scored one goal and had one assist in a 9-3 victory on Nov. 29, then added a goal in a 3-2 victory the next night to help North Dakota sweep the University of Minnesota on the road. 

North Dakota (12-1-2), which is 10-0-1 in its past 11 games, has moved up to No. 3 in the national polls.


Kruse control

Brandon Kruse scored a goal in each game to help Bowling Green University sweep the University of Notre Dame this past weekend.

The 20-year-old junior (5-10, 142) was selected in the fifth round (No. 135) by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 draft.

The forward scored the game-winning goal and had one assist in a 5-2 victory on Nov. 29, then added one goal in a 5-2 victory the next night. 

He has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 15 games after having 41 points (10 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games last season.


Winning Wall

Senior Tyler Wall stopped 57 of 59 shots in two victories by the University of Massachusetts Lowell this past weekend.

Wall (6-3, 214) made 23 saves in a 4-0 win against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Nov. 29 in the opener of the Turkey Leg Classic. In the championship game the next day, he made 34 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against Penn State University.

Selected in the sixth round (No. 174) by the New York Rangers in the 2016 NHL Draft, the 21-year-old has a .947 save percentage this season.

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