by Arch Ecker
RoadRunner alumni defenseman Aaron Gens was recognized during the University of Alaska-Fairbanks awards banquet last week, sharing the Shawn Chambers Top Defenseman honor with Joe Sova (Berwyn, IL, Omaha (USHL)) as well as the Dean Fedorchuk Most Improved player award. Gens, who is majoring in business administration just completed his sophomore season.
The Alaska Nanooks had a successful season (18-12-9), advancing to the NCAA tournament before being eliminated by #2 Boston College. Gens was sixth on the team in scoring with 6 goals and 15 assists. His assistant coach Lance West praised the defenseman from Baudette, MN, describing Gens as "smart and creative with the puck." He went to add, "When he moves the puck quick and gets going, he's really effective in the transition. He helps out in that transition offense and he's also able to jump up in the play. He's kind of got that instinct to be an offensive defenseman."
Gens developed into an offensive defenseman during his time as a RoadRunner, finishing his final junior season in Topeka with a franchise high 46 assists for the year (surpassed this season by Erik Higby's 53). Gens still holds the RoadRunner record for plus minus with a plus +41. He also holds a record that will likely never be broken, playing in 191 games as a RoadRunner including playoffs over 4 different seasons.
Having to shed his treasured #5 uniform as a freshman at Alaska-Fairbanks (he wore #2), he inherited it back as a sophomore. "The number doesn't make the man", Gens said. "But all the same, I was glad to get my #5 back."
With a couple of nice awards from the Nanooks to add to the awards he claimed in Topeka, including NAHL Defenseman of the Year, NAHL All-Star, NAHL All-South All-Star and similar awards at the team level, Gens can take a moment to reflect during the off-season. "The awards are nice, I got them because I've been fortunate to have great coaches and great teammates." His focus though as he heads into the 2010-11 season as an upperclassman is to return to the NCAA Tournament. "Getting a taste of it was amazing", Gens said. "I'm looking forward to working our way back to the CCHA Tournament and beyond next season."