OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – North Dakota senior forward Jordan Kawaguchi has been named the winner of the 2020-21 Senior CLASS Award for men’s ice hockey, it was announced Friday. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I men’s hockey coaches, national hockey media, and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I men’s hockey.
Kawaguchi becomes the first student-athlete from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) and the first from North Dakota to win the award.
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 athletic platforms to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, student-athletes must be classified as NCAA Division I seniors and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character, and competition. The award is presented in several Division I men’s and women’s NCAA sports.
“Jordan Kawaguchi has excelled in all facets of being a student-athlete at the University of North Dakota,” said Erik Miner, Executive Director of the Senior CLASS Award. “He has displayed tremendous character through his achievements in the classroom, in the community, and on the ice. We congratulate Jordan Kawaguchi and the University of North Dakota for winning this award."
After earning First-Team All-America, being named to the Hobey Hat Trick and claiming USCHO Player of the Year honors as a junior in 2019-20, Kawaguchi (Abbotsford, B.C.) passed up multiple NHL free agent offers to return for his senior season. He was named North Dakota’s team captain this season, leading the Fighting Hawks to a second straight Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions and the program’s first NCHC Frozen Faceoff title. As a senior, Kawaguchi led the NCHC in scoring with 36 points on 10 goals and 26 assists in 28 games.
For his career, Kawaguchi finished with 126 points (40g/86a) in 136 games at North Dakota, leading all active NCHC players in career scoring. A two-time First-Team All-NCHC selection, Kawaguchi will graduate from UND this spring with his degree in marketing after returning for his senior campaign. While at North Dakota, Kawaguchi has been a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Through his involvement with the organization, he has volunteered at food drives, pen pal programs, and Halloween bashes. Kawaguchi has also spent time volunteering with Special Olympics in Grand Forks.
“You would have to go long and far to find student-athletes who have made the type of impact throughout the course of their careers that Jordan Kawaguchi has,” said UND head coach Brad Berry. “He made an impact and put his fingerprints on the program. He showed our younger group how to be a North Dakota hockey player every day. Jordan added to the tradition and left the program in a better place. He is mindful and thoughtful of others before himself, which is what a great leader is.”
Kawaguchi signed an NHL deal with the Dallas Stars on March 31 and made his pro debut with the AHL’s Texas Stars on April 6, scoring a goal.
Along with Kawaguchi winning the Senior CLASS Award, St. Cloud State senior forward Kevin Fitzgerald, who was a top-10 finalist for the award, was named a Second-Team Senior CLASS All-American.