OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Four National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) seniors were among 20 NCAA men’s ice hockey student-athletes selected as candidates for the prestigious 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award, as Premier Sports Management announced the candidates Wednesday. The four candidates from the NCHC are Miami defenseman Louie Belpedio, Minnesota Duluth forward Karson Kuhlman, St. Cloud State forward Judd Peterson and North Dakota forward Austin Poganski, all four of whom are team captains this season.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
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 – community, classroom, character and competition.
Belpedio (Skokie, Ill.) has six points (3g, 3a) in the RedHawks’ first six games this season and has chipped in 59 points (19g, 40a) in 104 career games from the blue line. He is in his second season serving as team captain and served as an alternate captain in 2015-16 as a sophomore. As a freshman, Belpedio helped the RedHawks win the 2015 NCHC Frozen Faceoff Tournament and claim a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. The Minnesota Wild prospect is a two-time Honorable Mention All-NCHC selection and is a three-time member of the NCHC Academic All-Conference Team, while majoring in sport leadership and management.
Kuhlman (Esko, Minn.) is serving as the UMD team captain this season after handling an assistant team captaincy role as a junior. Since joining the Bulldog program in 2014-15, he has not missed a game and his active ironman streak of 130 consecutive appearances is the longest in NCAA Division-I men’s hockey. Kuhlman tops all 2017-18 Bulldogs in career goals (27), assists (36), points (63) and plus-minus rating (+38), and has a goal and two assists so far this year. A three-time NCHC All-Academic Team qualifier, he maintains a 3.46 cumulative grade-point average and will graduate this May with a degree in organizational management. Away from the rink and the classroom, Kuhlman has been involved in a host of volunteer endeavors over the past four years, such as reading at local elementary schools and the Little Wild hockey program.
Peterson (Duluth, Minn.) has compiled 52 career points in 116 games, scoring 31 goals and adding 21 assists, including five helpers so far this season. He has been a part of 72 wins at SCSU during his career, including NCAA Tournament appearances in 2015 and 2016. The Buffalo Sabres draft pick is serving as a co-captain for the Huskies this season after battling through a lower body injury that hampered him during his junior campaign. Peterson is a two-time NCHC Academic All-Conference Team member while majoring in finance. In the community, he has taken part in several activities, including youth hockey clinics and SCSU’s Husky Haulers move-in day program.
Poganski (St. Cloud, Minn.) is tied for the lead among all active NCAA Division I men’s hockey players with 130 career games played and is UND’s top active leading scorer with 65 career points, tallying his first goal of the season last Saturday at Colorado College. He served as an assistant captain last season before taking over as captain this season. Off the ice, the 2014 fourth-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues is an entrepreneurship major who has been named to three consecutive NCHC Academic All-Conference Teams. He is also a two-time NCHC Scholar-Athlete with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.46. Poganski has logged more than 70 hours of volunteer service in his three-plus years at UND.
The 20 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, 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 candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four® on Friday, April 6 in Saint Paul, Minn.
The Senior CLASS Award is handed out annually in a variety of both men’s and women’s NCAA-sponsored sports. The award is managed by Premier Sports Management.
To see the full list and read more about each of the 20 candidates, visit seniorCLASSaward.com.