Two of the best to ever wear the Green and Gold for Clarkson University Hockey, junior classmates Jake Kielly and Nico Sturm have signed professional hockey contracts with National Hockey League organizations, foregoing their final season of NCAA play.
An all-star goaltender for the Golden Knights the past three seasons, Kielly signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver Canucks release.
A standout center for Clarkson since the 2016-17 campaign, Sturm signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. Minnesota Wild release.
“Jake and Nico have been fantastic members of our program the past three years,” said Head Coach Casey Jones. “They are tremendous players, competitors and leaders. They excelled in their play and in the classroom, and were outstanding representatives of Clarkson University in the community. Although I am sorry to see them leave, I am excited for their opportunities at the professional level. We wish nothing but the best for Jake and Nico.”
Kielly and Sturm helped to lead Clarkson to one of its best seasons in the 2000s, playing key roles in the Green and Gold’s 26-11-2 campaign in 2018-19, which included the ECAC Hockey Championship Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. The Knights’ season ended this past Friday in Manchester, N.H. with a 3-2 overtime loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA Northeast Regional.
Kielly, a 6-2, 201-pound native of Eden Prairie, Minn., leaves the Clarkson program as the Knights’ third all-time winningest goaltender with a career record of 64-37-13, including 16 shutouts since the start of the 2016-17 campaign. A Top 5 Finalist for the Mike Richter Award, Kielly ranked among the best in the NCAA this winter, posting a .929 save percentage and a 1.91 goals against average en route to a 26-11-2 record, including five shutouts. Kielly was named a Second-Team ECAC Hockey All-Star and to the conference’s All-Tournament team in Lake Placid on March 23. Kielly also served as a Clarkson assistant captain.
A 6-3, 211-pound native of Augsburg, Germany, Strum closed out his Clarkson career with 103 points on 36 goals and 67 assists through 118 games. A Top 10 Hobey Baker Award Finalist, he tallied a team-high 45 points this season, including 31 assists, the most helpers by a Golden Knight in 23 years. Strum was a two-time winner of ECAC Hockey’s Best Defensive Forward Award, a First-Team conference all-star this season after gaining Second-Team honors as a sophomore in 2017-18. He was also named to ECAC Hockey’ All-Tournament team. A Clarkson co-captain, Sturm posted the best plus/minus in the conference at +23 and was the Knights’ leading center at the face off circle winning 57.9% of his draws (392-of-677).
Clarkson has had five players sign free-agent contracts with NHL organizations over the past three years. Along with Kielly and Sturm, Sheldon Rempal (Los Angeles) and Josh Dickinson (Colorado) last year, and Sam Vigneault (Columbus) after the 2016-17 season, have left the Golden Knights’ program early to pursue their professional careers.