Boulder native Clurman chosen captain for NCAA Division I Notre Dame
Nate Clurman is as solid a defenseman as one will see in NCAA Division I hockey.
Clurman isn’t a big point producer, but that’s not his game.
The Boulder native is more about keeping the puck out of his own zone, playing a quiet game on the blue line.
His play should get louder this season as the Notre Dame junior was recently chosen to captain the Fighting Irish.
“It is an honor to be named captain at a school like Notre Dame,” Clurman said. “The university’s historic tradition makes the campus, athletic programs, academics, and community a special place to be. I’m grateful to be part of a program with great teammates, coaches and staff that are always striving to be the best.”
Clurman was a captain in Colorado playing for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders and at Culver Military Academy during his days in boarding school.
Colin Theisen, Pierce Crawford and Matt Hellickson will serve as Notre Dame’s alternate captains.
“During these unusual times, our captains and leadership group will be challenged in many different ways,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “I am confident that our team has selected the right individuals to lead us through any adversity we may encounter. These young men are ready for the challenge and will hold our team accountable to our standards and our culture.”
A 2019-20 Academic All-Big Ten selection, Clurman has played in 76 career games while registering 12 assists. He recorded nine assists and a plus-8 rating (second on the team) in 37 games last season.
In last season’s 5-4 overtime road victory against then-No. 15 Wisconsin on Nov. 16, he posted a career-high two assists.
Clurman recorded three assists and a plus-3 rating in 39 games as a freshman. He notched his first career point with the primary assist on Alex Steeves’ opening goal in Notre Dame’s 5-1 win over RPI on Nov. 30, 2018.
“Playing college hockey was one of my dreams as a kid,” said Clurman. “I watched all the college hockey I could and even attended the Frozen Four in Denver when Notre Dame was in the tournament. When our team won the Big Ten tournament my freshman year and went on to play and win in the NCAA tournament, it was a surreal moment to play in those games and contribute.”
Growing up a Denver fan, that allegiance shifted during Clurman’s time at Culver.
“I grew up going to DU games, so it was a dream to play at Magness until I found myself touring Notre Dame,” said Clurman. “With Culver only 40 minutes away from Notre Dame, we made some trips up to see the hockey games and I immediately was hooked. In my junior year at Culver, Notre Dame offered me an opportunity to play and be part of the university. It was an easy decision and I committed soon after the visit in my junior year.”
Clurman went on to play his senior year at Culver and one year in the USHL (with Tri-City, Des Moines and Sioux City) before starting his freshman season at Notre Dame in 2018.
The college hockey season yet to begin due to restrictions associated with the ongoing pandemic, Clurman hasn’t stopped training or thinking about the game during the extended offseason.
“I felt fortunate to be able to spend most of the offseason back home in Colorado,” Clurman said. “Staying sharp was unusual with limited ice availability and weight room access, but I committed to a routine that included body weight workouts, stickhandling, shooting, and various types of conditioning. I have some great connections with trainers, coaches, and other players back home that help me improve and stay in shape, so it is always great to be back home working with them.”
In the summer of 2016, Clurman realized a dream when he was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche, who took him in the sixth round with the 161st overall pick.
“The Avalanche have a tremendous player development staff that works with the players in their prospect pool,” said Clurman. “We have built a constructive relationship in which they consistently offer insights, criticism, and feedback to improve my game.
“It was amazing to be drafted by the team that initiated my love for hockey. Players like Joe Sakic and Adam Foote were players that I idolized growing up, so I am grateful for the opportunity to be a prospect in the Avalanche organization and even work with Sakic and Foote at various points.”
The RoughRiders and Bison provided Clurman with what he needed to keep moving up the hockey ladder.
“I was surrounded by great coaches and people in the Colorado hockey community and fortunately, have been able to maintain those relationships today,” Clurman said. “Matt Huckins, Brandon Feltman, and Chris Lawson were the coaches that helped me learn how to push myself and approach the game the right way. I also continue to work with great people and coaches like Neil Runbeck and Brendan Phelps back home.”
Currently, the Big Ten season is slated to start Nov. 13 and with renewed optimism, Clurman feels Notre Dame will be the team to beat in the conference.
“We set high standards for our team because we know we have the right tools to be able to win,” said Clurman. “Obviously, we aim to be national champions at the end of this season, but that won’t come without commitment and willingness to compete from each and every member of our program.
“I think we have a great opportunity to do something great this year with the players and staff we have, so I’m excited to see what we can do as we come closer to the start of our season.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Nov. 5, 2020)