LAKE ELMO, Minn. — In a perfect world, Scott Perunovich would have been named the Hobey Baker Award winner before hundreds of fans at the Detroit Opera House. In a non-COVID-19 world, that would have happened on April 10, one day before Perunovich planned to be hitting the ice with his UMD Bulldogs teammates in the NCAA title game, in pursuit of their third consecutive national crown.
In the real world, Perunovich will be officially recognized for becoming the record sixth Bulldog to win college hockey’s top individual honor, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been yet another change in the schedule.
On Wednesday, July 8, the Hobey committee announced plans for a combination golf outing and banquet to honor Perunovich, which will be held Aug. 6 and The Royal Golf Club in the St. Paul suburb of Lake Elmo, Minn. Also recognized at the event will be coach Rick Comley, who is the committee’s 2020 legend of college hockey. Comley, who retired in 2011, is one of two coaches to win NCAA titles at two different schools, after national championships at Northern Michigan in 1991 and Michigan State in 2006.
The two other Hobey Hat Trick finalists — North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman — will be recognized at the August event as well.
“When the sports world came to a screeching halt in mid-March, that included the NCAA Frozen Four championship tournament, where we usually announce our winner in a formal presentation,” said Chuck Ranney, the 2020 Hobey chairman, in a statement released by the committee. “Since these three student athletes never had an opportunity to enjoy their national recognition, we wanted to honor all three finalists at this event.”
With the 2020 Frozen Four cancelled, the announcement of Perunovich as this year’s Hobey recipient came a day later than scheduled, on April 10, as the lead story on ESPN SportsCenter. He joined Tom Kurvers (1984), Bill Watson (1985), Chris Marinucci (1994), Junior Lessard (2004) and Jack Connolly (2012) on the list of Bulldogs to win the award, which was first given to Neal Broten of the Minnesota Gophers in 1981.
Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin has attended several previous Hobey announcements, including ones held at historical Faneuil Hall in Boston for Lessard, and at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa for Connolly. He said that Perunovich has rolled with the changes in schedule and tradition brought on by the pandemic.
"It's obviously weird for everybody, but I think he's taken things pretty well. The night Scott got his award, he was with his family," Sandelin said. "It's been good, considering the circumstances. And I kind of like the different venue."
Perunovich, who signed a pro contract with the St. Louis Blues after the 2020 postseason was cancelled, became the first defenseman to lead the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in scoring and led the country in assists by a defenseman with 34 in 34 games. Perunovich, who grew up in Hibbing, Minn., won NCAA titles with the Bulldogs in 2018 and 2019.
The golf/banquet outing will also include a silent auction of sports memorabilia. In a nod to on-going efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, the banquet will be held in an outdoor tent with limited seating at each table. ESPN commentator and former FOX Sports North sideline reporter Clay Matvick will serve as master of ceremonies. Full details on the event and tickets are available at the Hobey website.