Two Chilliwack Chiefs alums are up for a prestigious NCAA men’s hockey award.
University of North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Clarkson University defenceman Connor McCarthy have been nominated for the 2020-21 Senior CLASS Award, given to men’s hockey student-athletes who excel both on and off the ice.
Fifteen players in total have been put forward for the award.
The CLASS in Senior CLASS award is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School. According to a University of North Dakota news release, nominees must be seniors who “have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition,” and the award “encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.”
Kawaguchi, who hails from Abbotsford and played for the Chiefs from 2013 to 2017, likely could have signed a pro contract with a National Hockey League team last offseason, but opted to head back to UND for a fourth campaign.
The 23-year-old forward is captaining the Fighting Hawks this year, and was recently put on the Hobey Baker award ballot for a second straight season. That honour goes to the top player in NCAA Div 1 hockey. Kawaguchi has five goals and 21 points in 18 games this year after collecting 15 goals and 45 points in 33 games in 2019-20.
McCarthy is in his fourth season at Clarkson after spending 2015 to 2017 with the Chiefs. Wearing an alternate captain’s A, the towering six-foot-seven and 238 pound blueliner has two goals and seven points in 20 games.
The list of 15 Senior CLASS award candidates will be cut down to 10 finalists later this month.
The ultimate winner will be decided in a nationwide vote by media, coaches and fans, and will be announced during the 2021 NCAA Men’s Frozen Final Four tournament in April.