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College hockey: Defenseman Summers should give Clarkson scoring punch

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POTSDAM — An event that happened seven years ago played a role in one of the Clarkson University men’s hockey team’s incoming recruits choosing to attend the college.

Defenseman Kelly Summers, a 17-year-old with the Carleton Place Canadians of the Central Canada Hockey League, is the younger cousin of former Clarkson forward Mike Sullivan, who graduated in 2007.

Summers went to several Clarkson games during Sullivan’s career and was in Albany in 2007 to watch Sullivan and his teammates win the ECAC Hockey championship.

“That was a real exciting time for sure,” Summers said. “I loved seeing the atmosphere in (Cheel Arena). I probably saw (Sullivan) play two or three times a year.”

The 6-foot-2, 192-pound native of Golden Lake, Ontario, may be the key player in Clarkson’s incoming class of eight. He is ranked No. 73 among North American Skaters by the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Service and is expected to be selected in the upcoming draft. He scored 17 goals with 43 assists in 56 games for the Canadians this season and earned the CCHL’s Top Prospect Award.

“I’m more of a puck-moving defenseman, joining the rush,” Summers said. “I do a lot on the power play.”

Clarkson has one other defenseman heading to campus in the fall, Tyko Karjalainen (6-0, 172), who is from Helsinki, Finland and scored five goals with 28 assists in 48 games for Jokerit’s Under-20 team this season.

The Golden Knights are bringing in six forwards, led by another possible NHL draft choice in 6-4, 176-pounder Samuel Vigneault, a native of Bale-Comeau, Quebec.

Vigneault played for Andre-Laurendeau of the Quebec Central Hockey League this season and scored 28 goals with 32 assists in 37 games.

“I enjoyed the campus, it was beautiful and small,” Vigneault said. “It has a good student-teacher ratio. I’m French, so it will be hard at the start with English.”

Another forward from Quebec coming to campus is Janick Asselin, who is 5-4, 150 pounds. Asselin, from Coaticook, Quebec, played for the Sherbrooke Cougars of the Quebec Junior Hockey League and scored 39 goals with 45 assists in 45 games. He is coming off back-to-back, 80-plus point seasons for Sherbrooke.

“Clarkson is only three hours away and it was a big thing for me to be close to my family,” Asselin said. “They can come and watch me play every weekend. It’s a great school. I really liked the atmosphere in the arena, that (train) whistle, it’s pretty loud. It’s something.”

Being 5-4 it’s not surprising which current NHL player Asselin admires.

“Martin St. Louis is probably my favorite player,” Asselin said of the New York Rangers right winger. “He’s also an example for me because he is not big. Although I am not big, I am strong for my size. I can compete in the corners.”

Clarkson has three forwards coming from Ontario, including Nic Pierog (6-2, 201), a native of Georgetown, Ontario, who scored 26 goals with 12 assists in 39 games for the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League and then added five goals and six assists in 19 games for Penticton, of the same league.

“Clarkson is a great school hockey program and they are in a great conference, the ECAC, which just produced a national champion,” Pierog said. “I’m really excited to commit to Clarkson. I’ve heard about the rivalry with St. Lawrence, and I’m definitely excited to play in that. It should be an exciting atmosphere.”

Joining Pierog from Ontario is Penticton teammate Ben Dalpe (5-10, 170), a native of Paris, who scored 17 goals with 24 assists in 56 games this season. The other forward from Ontario is Dylan Gareau (6-0, 190), from Richmond, who scored eight goals with seven assists in 16 games with Carleton Place and tallied two goals with three assists in 19 games with Cedar Rapids of the USHL.

Rounding out Clarkson’s class is forward Brett Gervais (5-10, 170), from Corona, Calif., near Anaheim. Gervais scored 25 goals with 19 assists in 60 games for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the North American Hockey League.

MEN’S AWARDS NIGHT

Seniors Allan McPherson and Ben Sexton shared the Most Valuable Player honors as Clarkson held its men’s awards banquet Saturday night.

Sexton also claimed the Mike Morrison Award, which goes to a player for teamwork, hustle and dedication.

Goalie Steve Perry was named the Rookie of the Year, and sophomore Paul Geiger took home the Best Defensive Player award.

Sophomore Jeff DiNallo won the Richmond Unsung Award, which goes to a player who shows improvement and displays team leadership.

Senior Jarrett Burton won the Fran Neragin Award, given to a player who displays unselfish play and sportsmanship on and off the ice.

Sophomore Kevin Tansey, who missed the entire 2012-13 season while recovering from an assault, won the Ironman Award, which goes to a player who, in spite of injury, shows will and determination to overcomeobstacles and contribute to the team. Tansey played in all 42 games last season.

And both Zarbo brothers took home awards. Senior Matt Zarbo was a repeat winner as Scholar-Athlete of the Year and junior Joe Zarbo was given the North Country Award, which goes to the player who performs best against St. Lawrence.

4 CLARKSON WOMEN CHOSEN

Four members of Clarkson’s women’s national championship hockey team will be heading to Calgary, Alberta, from May 7-11 to take part in a strength and conditioning camp for the national development team, which is an early stage in possibly earning a spot on Canada’s Olympic team in 2018.

Forwards Cayley Mercer and Shannon MacAulay, and defensemen Erin Ambrose and Renata Fast, all sophomores, will head to camp.

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