By Earl Zukerman
The Montreal Canadiens and Molson’s-Coors brewery announced Tuesday that Ryan McKiernan, a defenceman with the CIS national champion McGill University Redmen, has won the Guy Lafleur Award as the Quebec university player who best combines hockey excellence with academic success and citizenship.
The 22-year-old native of White Plains, N.Y., who is fluent in French, becomes the 15th McGill player in 28 years to win the award – which is accompanied by a $6,000 bursary over three years – since it was inaugurated in 1985. Among the former Redmen who previously won the honour is current Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher and Montreal Canadiens left-winger Mathieu Darche.
Also honoured from Quebec’s two other major levels of hockey was Alexandre Tardif of the Princeville Titan (QJAHL) and Jonathan Brunell, captain of the Cape Breton Screaming eagles (QMJHL), who has committed to playing for the McGill Redmen next season.
McKiernan who previously toiled two seasons for Drummondville and Acadie-Bathurst in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, played for Boucher when the Voltigeurs captured the league’s President’s Cup championship in 2009. Since joining the Redmen, McKiernan has helped the team win back-to-back Queen’s Cup titles as champions of the OUA hockey league. Both years, McGill advanced to the CIS national gold medal final and this past spring, the Redmen captured their first-ever CIS University Cup championship.
On the ice, the 6-foot, 196-pound rearguard scored eight goals and 17 points in 33 games overall with McGill this season, the second-highest points total among McGill blueliners. In regular season play, he missed 11 games with injuries but posted a 5-4-9 record in 17 contests.
In the classroom, McKiernan completed nine courses and achieved 27 credits over the school year, achieving a grade-point average of 3.65 (the equivalent of 91.3 per cent) as an accounting major in the Desautels faculty of management. He was recently awarded with the Uldis Auders Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the top sophomore student-athlete at McGill. In the community, he has served as a volunteer with the McGill International Student Buddy Program, the McGill Holiday Food Drive, the Défi Canderel fundraiser for the Goodman Cancer Research Centre and the Divine Soirée Blanche pour la Fondation René-Verrier, which supports families stricken with cancer in the Drummondville region.
“Ryan is a charismatic, mature and confident young man who is an outstanding student and has also found the time to volunteer for a number of community service projects,” said Kelly Nobes, head coach of the Redmen. “Despite being from another country, he has adopted the bilingual culture of Quebec with open arms, has learned French and communicates well with his teammates. On the ice, he has played a major role along our blue line since joining the Redmen and has been a major contributor to our success. A key component on our power-play and penalty-killing units, Ryan also excels in even-strength situations. He is a physically strong defenceman, skates well, possesses a great shot and plays with a controlled mean streak.”