Kawaguchi is NCHC Forward of the Year, Pinto top rookie

Kawaguchi is NCHC Forward of the Year, Pinto top rookie Click to Enlarge

The University of North Dakota hockey team made an impressive run though the regular season, going 26-5-4 and grabbing the No. 1 spot in the NCAA Pairwise Rankings. Individual honors continue to pour in as today junior Hobey Baker Award finalist Jordan Kawaguchi was dubbed the NCHC's Forward of the Year and freshman Shane Pinto was named the NCHC Rookie of the Year.

Kawaguchi tacks on yet another accolade to his impressive 2019-20 season. Already the USCHO.com National Player of the Year and an all-American from USCHO and College Hockey News, Kawaguchi becomes the first UND player to win the NCHC Forward of the Year.

Kawaguchi has supplanted himself squarely in the mix for the Hobey Baker Award after a campaign that had the associate captain rack-up 45 points, second-most in the NCAA. He was clutch in crucial situations, leading the country with 13 game-winning points while scoring five game-winning goals among his 15 for the year. He was an All-NCHC First Teamer and was selected among the top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award earlier last week.

Pinto tied for the team lead in goals with 16 in his freshman season. He was earlier named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team, as North Dakota continued it streak of having a player represented on that team in each of the seven years of the NCHC's existence. The Franklin Square, N.Y., native becomes the second UND player to secure rookie of the year accolades following Brock Boeser's honor is 2015-16.

After two goals in his first 11 collegiate games, Pinto lit the lamp 14 times in his final 22 games, including the overtime game-winner Feb. 29 against Western Michigan to help clinch the NCHC regular season title.

Overall this season, he scored against six of seven NCHC teams (Minnesota Duluth: 0G, 2A) and registered a point against all but one opponent this season overall (Michigan Tech, Nov. 2).

The NCHC will continue its rollout of individual season awards tomorrow when it announces the NCHC Coach of the Year and the NCHC Player of the Year.

(UND Athletics)

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