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Alaska Hockey's Dion Knelsen Named Finalist For Lowe's Senior Class Award

Submitted by Jamie Foland
Phone: 907-474-6807

02/04/10

FAIRBANKS, AK - Alaska Nanooks senior forward Dion Knelsen (Three Hills, AB, Drumheller (AJHL)) has been named as one of 10 finalists for the 2010 Men's Ice Hockey division of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Nationwide balloting begins immediately to determine the winner. Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award™ winner in April at the NCAA Men's Frozen Four® in Detroit, Michigan.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School (CLASS), the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award encourages student-athletes to use their platform in college athletics to make a positive impact on their circle of influence.

Finalists were selected from a list of 20 candidates based on personal qualities that define a complete student athlete. The criteria to determine the top 10 included areas of the classroom, character and community in addition to performance on the hockey rink during this season.

The 2009-10 finalists are: Jean-Marc Beaudoin, Quinnipiac University; Cody Chupp, Ferris State University; Matt Fairchild, United States Air Force Academy; Colin Greening, Cornell University; Dion Knelsen, University of Alaska; Martin Nolet, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Garrett Raboin, St. Cloud State University; Rhett Rakhshani, University of Denver; Dan Ringwald, Rochester Institute of Technology; and Eli Vlaisavljevich, Michigan Technological University.

These 10 names will be placed on the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award hockey ballot for a nationwide vote beginning today and concluding March 16. Fan balloting is available on the award's official Web site, http://www.seniorCLASSaward.com, as well as through text messaging. Fans can text H5 to 74567 to vote for Dion Knelsen. Fan balloting counts for 1/3 of the total with the remaining 2/3 determined by NCAA Division I coaches and national media members.

The hockey finalists have spent almost four years perfecting their game on the ice," said Tom Lamb, Lowe's senior vice president of marketing. "We commend their pursuit of perfection in the rink but also their emphasis on getting a college degree and preparing for life after their senior year."

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.

Knelsen, a business administration major at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is also one of 18 nominees for the Hockey Humanitarian Award. He maintains a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom and is second on the team in scoring with 12 goals and 23 assists through 26 games this year. Last weekend at Northern Michigan, Knelsen scored his 100th career point becoming just the 28th player in Alaska Hockey history to eclipse the mark.

Off the ice, the four-year letterman has participated in "Nooks for Books" by reading at local elementary schools to young students. He has volunteered with Sports Night at the Denali Center, which is Fairbanks' assisted living home for senior citizens. Other community efforts include volunteering time with Big Brothers Big Sisters and going to work 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 is a sponsor for one child in the Dominican Republic, while also serving as a co-sponsor of a second child along with his teammates.

Knelsen is the third Alaska Nanook to make the list of 10 finalists in the award's four-years of existence. Former forwards Trevor Hyatt and Curtis Fraser made the cut in 2009 and 2007, respectively. Both players went on to earn Lowe's All-Senior All-America Second Team honors.

Alaska hosts No. 12 Michigan State this weekend at the Carlson Center. Games are set for 7:05 p.m. Friday and 6:05 p.m. Saturday.