When Hibbing native Scott Perunovich won his first national championship as a freshman with Minnesota Duluth in 2018 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, he said it took a couple of weeks for it to sink in for him and his teammates.
He’s finding the same to be true of the 2020 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which Perunovich figuratively added to his trophy case last Saturday alongside an NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship and back-to-back NCAA titles.
Perunovich, the sixth Hobey winner from UMD, still hasn’t physically received college hockey’s most prestigious individual trophy. With the traditional live in-person ceremony at the NCAA Frozen Four canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Perunovich learned he was the 40th Hobey Baker recipient last Saturday during ESPN’s Sportscenter.
A three-time All-American, three-time All-NCHC selection, three-time NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year and the 2020 NCHC Player of the Year, Perunovich joined the News Tribune’s Bulldog Insider Podcast for a short bonus episode this week.
Hosted by News Tribune college hockey reporter Matt Wellens and My9 Sports commentator Zach Schneider, and produced by the News Tribune’s Samantha Erkkila, the Bulldog Insider Podcast is wrapping up Season 2 by phone with a couple UMD alumni now playing for the Wild in the NHL — Carson Soucy and Alex Stalock.
Below are excerpts from this week’s bonus short with Perunovich, now available along with the rest of Season 1 and 2 online at duluthnewstribune.com, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
This year’s Hobey presentation came under some unusual circumstances because of COVID-19. Could you take us behind the scenes to what the night was like for you last Saturday when John Buccigross read off your name as the winner on SportsCenter?
I was at the cabin with my family and it's pretty nerve racking for the day. Nerves get to you and you know you want to win for your family. It was pretty tense for me. Everyone's just having fun though and then when Bucci read the card and I was fortunate to be the winner, it was just really fun to have my family around me and to celebrate with me.
What was a more emotional moment for you recently — winning the Hobey last Saturday or agreeing to that first NHL contract with the St. Louis Blues?
“That’s tough … they’re both unbelievable moments for me, my life and for my family. It’s tough to compare them, too, just because they both rank up there. I think probably the Hobey was a little bit above because I didn’t know.
We say agreed to terms for your contract because you haven’t signed anything with the Blues yet. You have two deals outstanding, depending on what happens with the 2019-20 NHL season. One if the season restarts and one if it doesn’t. Whose idea was it to do two separate deals? Was that the Blues or your camp?
I'm actually not sure whose idea that was. I just let them take care of the deal on the contract and they just bring it to me. They brought it, they told me about it, and I thought it was a really good idea. I thought that it was definitely going to open it up for some other players who were kind of in a similar position. So I was really happy about what we came to.
What's quarantine life been like and what are you doing to stay in shape In case you are able to begin your NHL career right away, should the season restart?
I'm just at my cabin. I'm outside basically all the time just doing yard work and just little setups that me and my dad have been doing. We made a shooting spot, a shooting station for us just kind of in the woods and we're just basically doing anything that we can to stay busy.
Is your dad, Jim, strapping on the pads at all? Are you making him block shots?
No, not yet. We’re just working on just shooting. He’s not the best shooter yet so we’re working on that. And then I’m going to work on tipping with him. He’s going to start tipping some pucks in a little bit.