Frozen face-off to be held March 22-23 at Xcel Energy Center

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After revealing the NCHC All-Rookie Team yesterday, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference announced its 2023-24 All-Conference Teams on Wednesday. Four teams are represented on the All-NCHC First Team, led by two each from Colorado College and Denver. The Pioneers placed four players on the two all-conference squads to pace all teams.

Three players were unanimously selected First-Team All-NCHC in North Dakota sophomore forward Jackson Blake, Denver freshman defenseman Zeev Buium and Colorado College sophomore goaltender Kaidan Mbereko. Rounding out the First Team are CC sophomore forward Noah Laba, Denver junior forward Jack Devine and St. Cloud State fifth-year defenseman Dylan Anhorn. Buium becomes only the third freshman ever to earn First-Team All-NCHC honors, joining former UND forward Brock Boeser and former Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich.

 Earning Second-Team All-NCHC honors in 2023-24 are Denver junior Massimo Rizzo, Western Michigan senior Luke Grainger and Minnesota Duluth sophomore Ben Steeves at forward. On the Second-Team blue line are a pair of juniors in Denver’s Shai Buium and St. Cloud State’s Jack Peart, while North Dakota senior Ludvig Persson gets the nod as the Second-Team goaltender.

Blake, Zeev Buium and Mbereko all received the maximum 15 first-team votes and 45 points possible to earn First-Team honors. Laba and Devine each received 12 of 15 first-team votes and 39 and 38 points in voting, respectively. Anhorn picked up 10 first-team votes and 35 points to round out the First Team. Voting totals for both all-conference teams are listed at the bottom. In addition to the two all-conference teams, seven additional student-athletes earned Honorable Mention honors from the NCHC, which are also listed at the bottom.

While no players repeated on the First Team, Blake, Mbereko, Rizzo and Peart all garnered All-NCHC honors for a second straight year. Rizzo was a First-Team selection as a sophomore, while Blake, Mbereko and Peart were Second-Team honorees last year. Persson also earned his second career Second-Team All-NCHC accolade after first picking it up as a freshman at Miami in 2020-21. Blake, Steeves and Mbereko were NCHC All-Rookie Team selections last year, as well, while Zeev Buium earned All-Rookie honors this year.

Blake (Eden Prairie, Minn.) set the NCHC single-season scoring record with 37 points in conference play, breaking the previous mark of 35 held by Boeser and Denver’s Bobby Brink. He had nine more points than any other forward in NCHC play. The Carolina Hurricanes draft pick led the NCHC with 26 assists in 24 NCHC games, while potting 11 goals, which tied for seventh, including three game-winners. Overall, Blake leads all NCHC players with 52 points, scoring 19 goals and adding 33 assists in 36 games. His 52 points tie for third nationally.

 Laba (Northville, Mich.) captured the NCHC goal-scoring title with 16 goals in conference play, while his six game-winners led the NCHC by two. He also led the league with three short-handed goals. The New York Rangers draft pick tallied 28 points in 24 NCHC games, which tied with Devine for second among forwards and third in conference scoring. Laba handed out 12 assists and posted a +19 plus/minus in NCHC play, which was +5 better than anyone else. Overall this season, Laba ranks seventh in the NCHC with 35 points in 33 games, scoring 19 goals, which ties for sixth in the conference.

Devine (Glencoe, Ill.) also totaled 28 points in 24 NCHC games to tie with Laba for third in conference scoring. The Florida Panthers draft pick potted 12 goals and dished out 16 assists in NCHC action, tying for fourth and sixth respectively, while posting a +11 plus/minus. In all games, Devine is second in the NCHC and fifth nationally with 51 points. His 25 goals are tops in the NCHC and tied for third in the NCAA, while he’s handed out 26 assists in 36 games. Devine also leads the NCHC with a +26 plus/minus overall.

Zeev Buium (San Diego, Calif.) led all NCHC defensemen and ranked second behind Blake with 31 points in 24 conference games, the second-most points ever in NCHC play by a blueliner (Scott Perunovich had 32 in 2019-20). The 18-year-old scored six goals in NCHC action, tying with his brother, Shai, for the most from a blueliner, while dishing out 25 assists. The 25 helpers in conference play were also second among all skaters and first among defensemen. Buium’s +14 plus/minus tied for first among D-men in conference play, as well. Overall this season, the draft eligible blue liner leads all NCHC defensemen in goals (9), assists (34) and points (43), with his 43 points 12 more than any other NCHC rearguard and tied for first nationally among defensemen.

Anhorn (Calgary, Alta.) rebounded from a season-ending injury last year to post 22 points in 24 NCHC games this season, which was third among defensemen. The SCSU captain scored four goals in conference play, which was fourth among blueliners, with half of them being game-winners. Anhorn’s 18 assists were fifth in conference play and trailed only Zeev Buium among defensemen. He finished with a +5 plus/minus in NCHC action. Overall this season, Anhorn has 30 points, which is third among NCHC blueliners, on six goals and 24 assists, with the latter tied for second among NCHC D-men.

Mbereko (Aspen, Colo.) was stellar in net this season, leading the NCHC with a .927 save percentage in conference play (.017 better than anyone else) and a 2.15 goals-against average (.40 better than anyone else). His 656 saves were also tops in the conference, while his 27.33 saves per game were second. Mbereko posted a 14-8-2 record in conference play starting all 24 games, with the 14 wins tied for first, while backstopping CC to its highest-ever finish in the NCHC. He is the reigning three-time NCHC Goaltender of the Month, only the second NCHC player ever to win three straight monthly honors. Overall this season, Mbereko is 20-11-3 in net in 34 starts, while leading the NCHC with a .918 save percentage and ranking second with a 2.38 GAA.

On the All-NCHC Second Team, Rizzo (Burnaby, B.C.) missed the final four weeks of the regular season due to an injury and ended with 23 points (4g/19a) in 16 conference games. His 1.44 points per game rank second in conference play behind only Blake, while his 19 assists still finished second among forwards. Overall this season in 28 games, the Philadelphia Flyers prospect leads the NCHC with 1.57 points per game, while his 43 points are third and his 34 assists still tie for first in the conference.

Grainger (Montreal, Quebec) tied for fifth among forwards with 24 points in conference play, scoring nine goals and adding 15 assists in 24 games. The 15 helpers tied for fourth among forwards. Overall this season, the WMU captain is tied for fourth in the NCHC with 43 points in 34 games, scoring 13 goals, while his 30 assists rank fourth in the NCHC.

Steeves (Bedford, N.H.) totaled 19 points in 24 NCHC games, including scoring 14 goals, which was third in the conference. He was one of only four players to record a hat trick in conference play this season and tied for second with four game-winning goals. Overall this season, the NCHC December Player of the Month ranks second in the NCHC with 24 goals in 35 games and is also second with six game-winners. Steeves has a team-best 34 points on the year.

On the Second-Team blue line, Shai Buium (San Diego, Calif.) trailed only his brother among defensemen with 26 points in conference play and was third with 20 assists. His six goals, including two game-winners, tied with Zeev for first among D-men, as did his +14 plus/minus. Overall this season, the Detroit Red Wings draft pick is second among NCHC blueliners (behind Zeev) with 31 points in 35 games, while his seven goals and 24 assists both tie for second among defensemen.

Peart (Grand Rapids, Minn.) logged heavy minutes on SCSU’s blue line, totaling 12 points (3g/9a) in 34 games this season. In conference play, the Minnesota Wild draft pick tallied nine points on two goals and seven assists. Peart has blocked 46 shots on the season, as well, which ranks 10th in the NCHC.

In goal for the Second Team is Persson (Hindas, Sweden), who earned the same honor as a freshman at Miami. He started 23 of 24 NCHC games, posting a 14-8-1 record, with the 14 wins tied for first. Persson led the league with three shutouts in NCHC action and has five overall this year. His 2.73 GAA was third in conference play, while he posted an .898 save percentage. Overall, Persson is 21-10-2 in 33 starts this year, with the 21 wins tops in the NCHC. He carries a .906 save percentage on the season, tying for fourth in the NCHC, while his 2.47 GAA is third.

Along with the two All-Conference Teams, seven other players earned Honorable Mention All-NCHC, which is made up of the next highest point totals in voting at each position (plus ties) after the First and Second Teams. Receiving Honorable Mention All-NCHC at forward are North Dakota junior Cameron Berg, Western Michigan senior Sam Colangelo and North Dakota senior Riese Gaber, who earns some form of All-NCHC honors for the fourth straight season. On the blue line, Denver junior Sean Behrens, North Dakota freshman Jake Livanavage and UND fifth-year senior Garrett Pyke garnered Honorable Mention, while Omaha sophomore goaltender Simon Latkoczy rounds out the Honorable Mentions.

Voting was conducted by the eight head coaches at each institution and eight media members, one covering each member school. Coaches and media voted for six forwards, four defensemen and two goaltenders, awarding first-team votes for six players (three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender) and second-team votes for the other six selections. Three points were awarded for a first-team vote while one point was awarded for a second-team vote, with the most points at each position earning the honors. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players, making 15 first-place votes the maximum a player can receive.

The NCHC will announce its individual award finalists on Thursday. Individual award winners will be revealed at the NCHC Awards Celebration in Saint Paul, Minn. on Thursday, March 21 on the eve of the 2024 NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

2023-24 First-Team All-NCHC
F: *Jackson Blake, So., North Dakota – 45 points (15 first-team votes) – unanimous
F: Noah Laba, So., Colorado College – 39 (12)
F: Jack Devine, Jr., Denver – 38 (12)
D: Zeev Buium, Fr., Denver – 45 (15) – unanimous
D: Dylan Anhorn, 5th, St. Cloud State – 35 (10)
G: *Kaidan Mbereko, So., Colorado College – 45 (15) – unanimous

2023-24 Second-Team All-NCHC
F: ^Massimo Rizzo, Jr., Denver – 21 (4)
F: Luke Grainger, Sr., Western Michigan – 15 (3)
F: Ben Steeves, So., Minnesota Duluth – 13 (2)
D: Shai Buium, Jr., Denver – 17 (3)
D: *Jack Peart, Jr., St. Cloud State – 7 (2)
G: %Ludvig Persson, Sr., North Dakota – 8 (1)

2023-24 Honorable Mention All-NCHC
F: Cameron Berg, Jr., North Dakota – 11
F: Sam Colangelo, Sr., Western Michigan – 3
F: *&Riese Gaber, Sr., North Dakota – 3
D: Sean Behrens, Jr., Denver – 7
D: Jake Livanavage, Fr., North Dakota – 5 (1)
D: Garrett Pyke, 5th, North Dakota – 5 (1)
G: Simon Latkoczy, So., Omaha – 4

^ 2022-23 First-Team All-NCHC
* 2022-23 Second-Team All-NCHC
& 2021-22 First-Team All-NCHC
% 2020-21 Second-Team All-NCHC