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Dion Knelsen named 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate

Submitted by Jamie Foland
Phone: 907-474-6807

10/07/09

Alaska Nanooks' senior center Dion Knelsen has been recognized for his accomplishments on and off the ice as one of 20 candidates for the 2009-10 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, character, community and competition. The complete list of candidates follows this release.

As a hockey player, Knelsen has developed an impressive career at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Last year, the 5-foot 9-inch, 187-pound lefty played in all 39 games and led the Nanooks in scoring for the second consecutive season as the team made its best regular-season finish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. He was CCHA Offensive Player of the Week for Oct. 13 after he earned MVP honors of Alaska Anchorage's Kendall Hockey Classic D1 Tournament.

His other career highlights include being selected as one of only a few collegiate hockey players to be named to Canada's 2007 World Under-18 team that competed in Tampere and Rauma, Finland, where he was named Player of the Game on April 14, 2007 after scoring two goals and two assists in Canada's 9-1 win over Latvia. Back with his Alaska teammates, he was named Alaska's Top Rookie and an honorable mention CCHA All-Rookie team selection. He was named CCHA Rookie of the Week on Oct. 16, 2006, with two goals and three assists in an 8-4 win against Air Force. He accomplished all of these feats as a freshman in 2006-07, when he was the second-youngest player in the CCHA and second-youngest player in NCAA Division I hockey.

As a student, Knelsen has made the chancellor's list five times and maintains a 3.98 grade point average, which is amongst the highest of the group of 20 candidates. Outside of the classroom, Knelsen regularly attends a Wednesday night Christian group called Remnant Christian Fellowship, where he leads the music fellowship.

"He has tremendous values that represent integrity, honesty and loyalty," said Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson. "With respect to his character, it is second to none."

Knelsen has sought out and participated in several volunteer activities in the Fairbanks community, including: "Nooks for Books," where he reads to elementary-aged students at local schools; "Sports Night" at the Denali Center; Big Brothers Big Sisters and building houses with Habitat for Humanity. In 2008-09, he was a volunteer with Connie Seekins' therapeutic riding program that offered handicapped individuals the opportunity to ride horses on a weekly basis. Additionally, he serves as a co-sponsor of a child in the Dominican Republic.

"Dion is always the first guy to volunteer in any situation that he can," added Ferguson.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive difference as leaders in their communities. Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award winner at the NCAA Men's Frozen Four in April.

The 20 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of classroom, character, community and competition.

This marks the fourth year for the ice hockey division of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Michigan State University goaltender Jeff Lerg received the award for the 2008-09 season and Princeton University center Landis Stankievech took home the 2007-08 honor. In 2006-07, University of Notre Dame goaltender David Brown won the inaugural men's hockey award.

In the four-year history of the award, two Alaska Nanook skaters have made the list of top 10 finalists and went on to earn recognition on the Lowe's All-Senior All-America First and Second Teams. Last year, Trevor Hyatt made the cut for First Team honors, while Curtis Fraser was a Second Team selection in the inaugural year.

2009-10 men's ice hockey candidates:

Jean-Marc Beaudoin, forward, Quinnipiac University

Peter Boldt, defense, Dartmouth College

Andrew Braithwaite, goalie, Merrimack College

Cody Chupp, right wing, Ferris State University

Ryan Donald, defender, Yale University

Matt Fairchild, forward, Air Force Academy

Chay Genoway, defenseman, University of North Dakota

Barry Goers, defenseman, UMass Lowell

Colin Greening, forward, Cornell University

Dion Knelsen, center, Alaska

Andrew Loewen, goaltender, Canisius College

David McIntyre, forward, Colgate

Martin Nolet, defenseman, Massachusetts

Garrett Raboin, defenseman, St. Cloud State University

Rhett Rakhshani, forward, University of Denver

Dan Ringwald, defenseman, Rochester Institute of Technology

Chris Summers, defense, University of Michigan

Ryan Thang, left wing, Notre Dame

Eli Vlaisavljevich, defense, Michigan Technological University

Brett Watson, forward, Massachusetts