It was the official end of an era for some.
Lake Superior State University Lakers were the featured attraction on Thursday night as Soo BlueLiners held their 32nd annual banquet in support of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association team.
LSSU junior Kevin Czuczman, who ended the 2013-2014 season by making his National Hockey League debut with the New York Islanders, was honoured by the Lakers as their best defenseman and most valuable player.
The evening paid special tribute to LSSU seniors Kevin Murdock, Zach Sternberg, Dan Radke, Kevin Kapalka, Niels-Erik Ravn, Colin Campbell, Matt Bruneteau and Andrew Perrault who — along with Czuczman — have graduated the Laker program.
Murdock, Kapalka and Ravn are goalies, Sternberg, Bruneteau and Perreault are defencemen and Radke and Campbell are forwards.
Radke is the older brother of David Radke, who has been a top defenceman with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League the past two seasons.
Of note, Soo BlueLiners president Howard Ledergerber and his wife, Chris, hosted the event for the final time. They announced their retirement as heads of the booster organization after more than a decade of service.
As for Czuczman, who hails from Port Elgin, Ont., the junior defenceman certainly departed LSSU in style.
He played in 13 NHL games with the Islanders following the conclusion of the Lakers 2013-2014 season.
Czuczman became the first Laker to make such a sudden jump to the NHL since forward Doug Weight signed with the New York Rangers back in 1990.
Weight went on to play in more than 1,300 NHL games, including playoffs.
Other major award winners from Thursday’s banquet included Sternberg (Gay Blade award), junior forward Andrew Dommett (most improved player), forward Alex Globke (outstanding freshman), Kapalka (scholar-athlete award), Campbell (most valuable forward) and Bruneteau (Jim Howie unsung hero award and Soo BlueLiners award).
To clarify, the Gay Blade Award is presented to the “team comedian” or the player who can make the best of the toughest situations.
PHOTO: Laker defenceman Kevin Czuczman has already made his National Hockey League debut despite being a junior.