Image credit: ccha.com
Dion Knelsen, one of the greatest characters I've met in recent history, has been named a finalist for the prestigious Hockey Humanitarian Award, which awards those who demonstrate character by reaching out and helping the community in some way. The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is presented each year to the outstanding senior NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year across nine different sports. The acronym “CLASS” stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School™.
ClassroomDuring his first six semesters at Alaska, Knelsen has made the Chancellor’s List five times. He maintains a 3.98 grade point average.
CharacterKnelsen regularly attends a Wednesday night Christian group called Remnant Christian Fellowship (an evening get-together service for young people). He has led and plans to continue leading the music fellowship. In addition, Knelsen attends Bethel Christian Fellowship and participates weekly in Bible study with other athletes that include UAF hockey alumni and some of his current teammates. Coach Dallas Ferguson says, “He has tremendous values that represent integrity, honesty and loyalty. With respect to his character, it is second to none.”
CommunityKnelsen 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 served as a co-sponsor of a child in the Dominican Republic. Coach Dallas Ferguson says, “Dion is always the first guy to volunteer in any situation that he can.”
CompetitionIn 2008-09, Knelsen played in all 39 games and led Alaska in scoring as a junior with 22 points. He was CCHA Offensive Player of the Week for October 13th after he earned MVP honors of Alaska Anchorage’s Kendall Hockey Classic D1 Tournament. During Knelsen’s sophomore season (2007-08), he played in all 35 games and led Alaska in scoring with 33 total points. Knelsen had a very successful freshman season as well. He was 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. Knelsen 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. In addition, he was named Rookie of the Week on October 16, 2006, with two goals and three assists in an 8-4 win against Air Force. Knelsen accomplished all of these feats his freshman year while he was the second youngest player in the CCHA and second youngest player in NCAA Division I hockey.
I can't argue with these nominations in any way. Dion is not only a great skater, but a great person. I highly encourage all of my readers to go out and vote for Dion for the Senior CLASS award.
The Hockey Humanitarian award is named by committee, but get out there and vote and get the word out. Dion, along with Andy Taranto, and Joe Sova are still in the running for the Hobey Baker award as well, college hockey's highest honor.