Knight Club Honors Clarkson Seniors

Photo by Chris Lenney
Photo by Chris Lenney

POTSDAM, N.Y. -- The 2007-08 Clarkson University hockey team was honored at the annual Knight Club Booster Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 5. Family, friends, and booster club members paid tribute to the Golden Knights and honored the six seniors in the Class of 2008.

The Golden Knights' Class of 2008 - Mike Arciero, David Cayer, Grant Clitsome, Nick Dodge, David Leggio and Steve Zalewski - led the Green and Gold resurgence that has lifted the Clarkson Hockey program back among the nation's elite. Through their four-year careers, the six Clarkson seniors compiled 78 victories, led the Knights to back-to-back 20-win campaigns for the first time since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons, won an ECAC Hockey Tournament Championship and a conference regular season title along with making two consecutive showings in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the late 1990s.  

The Class of 2008 capped off their collegiate careers by leading the Green and Gold to one of the most successful seasons in the program's 86-year history with a 22-13-4 overall record, a first-place 15-4-3 ECAC Hockey mark and Clarkson's first NCAA Tournament victory since 1996.

Six awards were announced at the banquet. Headlining the list of recipients was 6-0, 192-pound, center Steve Zalewski, who was named the Bill Harrison Clarkson Most Valuable Player in honor of the successful Clarkson coach of the late 1940s and 1950s.

A First-Team ECAC Hockey All-Star, Zalewski was Clarkson's leading goal scorer with 21, the most by a Knight since Erik Cole scored 22 in 1998-99, and second overall in points for the Green and Gold with 33. He was the leading goal scorer in ECAC Hockey play with 16, and scored a team-high seven power-play tallies to go along with two shorthanded markers and four game-winners. The Knights were 11-2-3 when the New Hartford, New York native scored a goal.

An assistant captain in his senior campaign, Zalewski became the first Clarkson player in over 10 years to score four goals in a game - in 6-2 win at Princeton (11/10). He tallied his second career hat trick and added one assist for another four-point effort in 4-2 win at Harvard (1/12). Zalewski reached the century mark this season with 108 points (58-50) through 151 career games. He is a 2004 NHL Draft Choice of San Jose (5th rd., 153) and recently signed a pro contract with the Sharks.

A 5-11, 210-pound defenseman from Gloucester, Ontario, Grant Clitsome was honored with the Richmond Unsung Hero Award. Named in honor of loyal Clarkson followers Ernie and Connie Richmond, the award has been presented to a Golden Knight who displayed unselfish play and was very instrumental to the team's success.

A First-Team ECAC Hockey All-Star and a NCAA East Regional Team selection, Clitsome boasted the best plus/minus overall among all ECAC Hockey players at +22. He anchored Clarkson's stingy defensive effort - ranked 3rd in the league - as the Knights' lone senior on the blueline.  Serving as an assistant captain, Clitsome led the Clarkson defensemen in scoring with 22 points on five goals and 17 assists. He scored twice on the power play, once shorthanded and recorded seven multiple-point games. Clitsome tallied 10 points (2-8) in last eight games of regular season to help Clarkson win the ECAC Regular Season Championship. He was named to ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team. A 2004 NHL Draft choice of Columbus (9th rd., 271), and recently signed a pro contract with the Blue Jackets.

Senior David Cayer was honored with the Mike Morrison Coaches' Award for teamwork, hustle and dedication. The award was named in honor of the former Clarkson captain who died in a work accident on July 27, 1988.

One of three Clarkson forwards to reach 100 career points this season, Cayer finished with 22 points this year with 10 goals and 12 assists. The 5-9, 175-pound right wing from Longueuil, Quebec was a productive offensive force all four seasons with the Green and Gold, recording 40 goals and 69 assists through 145 career games. Cayer's goal early in the second period in the 2-1 win over St. Cloud State in the East Regional was Clarkson's first goal in the NCAA Tournament since 1999, snapping a stretch of 116:33 of scoreless play in the national tourney.

Nick Dodge was presented with the Paul J. Pilon Award, which was established in the memory of the former Clarkson hockey player who died in a tragic car wreck in 1937. It is presented, when appropriate, to the senior who has excelled both as a student and hockey player.

Selected as Best Defensive Forward in ECAC Hockey, Dodge was Clarkson's team captain, who did all the little things necessary to help the Golden Knights win the regular season title. A strong specialty teams player with four power-play goals and four shorthanded markers to go along with four game-winners, the 5-10, 184-pound center set Clarkson's career mark for shorthanded goals with nine. The Oakville, Ontario native was the Knights' top faceoff specialists, winning over 57% of his draws. Dodge closed out his collegiate career with 124 points (52-72) through 150 games, including 12 goals and 14 assists in his senior campaign. Dodge was a three-time ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection. He is a 2006 NHL Draft Choice of Carolina (6th rd., 183).

Avon, Connecticut native Mike Arciero received the Fran Neragin Award. Named in honor of the loyal Clarkson hockey booster who passed away in 1984, the Neragin award is presented to a player who excels in sportsmanship and academics, and who has contributed significantly to the Clarkson hockey program. The 6-2, 203-pound senior played a vital role in the locker room, and as a hard working forward on Clarkson's checking lines. He skated in 12 games, scoring two goals. His last point was in an 8-0 victory over Quinnipiac (3/1) in the regular-season final when he tallied his fifth career goal in highlight form fashion, diving across the crease.

David Leggio was honored with the Knight Club Award, presented to a deserving player who made a significant contribution to the team, achieved academically as well as being excellent role model for his teammates and the young people of the community.

Leggio, a 6-0, 187-pound goaltender from Williamsville, New York, was a second-Team ECAC Hockey All-Star. He started 37 of 38 games in his senior campaign, including all 22 league games, back boning Clarkson to the conference regular season title. He owned the best winning percentage in league play at .750% with a 15-4-3 record. Leggio became the first Clarkson goaltender to record back-to-back 20-win seasons since the mid-1990s. He finished with a 22-11-4 record this year and posted the fourth most wins at Clarkson with a 59-29-12 career record. His five shutouts this season were the most by a Clarkson goaltender since 1961-62. Leggio posted a .920 save percentage and a 2.20 goals against average. Leggio recently signed a pro contract with the AHL's Binghamton Senators

Team captains were also announced.  Junior defensemen Tyrell Mason (Dawson Creek, BC) and Phil Paquet (Quebec City, QUE) were named co-captains for the 2008-09 campaign.