BostonBruins.com - In the spring of 2013, following his junior season with Clarkson University, center Ben Sexton was presented with the Ironman Award.
The award represents the player who most demonstrates the will and determination to overcome injuries and contribute to the team.
Now a captain in his senior season, the 6-0, 203-pound forward battled through nagging injuries to play in 28 of his team's 36 games as a junior, and still finish the season tied for second in scoring with 20 points, recording five goals and 15 assists. He also racked up 70 penalty minutes.
Drafted in seventh round (206th overall) by the Bruins in 2009, the centerman has had to push through injuries throughout his collegiate career.
Despite the adversity, he's remained close to being a point-per-game player in all of his four seasons.
Progressing since his freshman season, the forward put up 29 points (8-21) in 27 games as a sophomore, 20 points in 28 games as a junior, and already in 2013-14, has put up two goals and nine assists for 11 points through his first 12 games, along with 37 penalty minutes.
Only two of Sexton's 11 points so far have come from goals, but one of them was as a game-winner on the power play in a 3-2 win over conference rival Dartmouth on November 8. He has the ability to finish, but also set up plays. He started out with three assists in Clarkson's first four games.
"He has fought the injury bug a bit during his time at Clarkson, but he did a tremendous amount of work this summer and it certainly seems to be paying dividends early in the season as both he and his team are off to a strong start," said Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney, who has seen Sexton's development in the B's system since he was drafted in 2009.
Led by Sexton, the Golden Knights are out to a 9-2-1 start and are tied for second place in the ECAC Hockey standings. They rank 11th overall in the country.
The B's prospect is serving as team captain for the second season. He wore the 'A' as assistant captain during his sophomore campaign.
"Ben has always shown strong leadership skills as a highly competitive player," said Sweeney. "He's both a lead by example and vocal leader."
"Anytime that I can help out some of the younger guys, I’m obviously more than willing to do it,” Sexton has told BostonBruins.com. “I think the biggest thing for the freshmen—as an older guy—is just getting them comfortable at first, and then letting them know that they can play"
“The step is a little bit of an adjustment at first, but great advice that I got going into my freshman year was just have the confidence that you know you can play."
Sexton has helped instill that mentality both in his teammates, and in himself.
In addition to earning the Ironman Award last season at the end of 2012-13, the captain was also honored with the "Mike Morrison Dedication Award" for teamwork, hustle and dedication.
Given his work ethic, leadership and "ironman" toughness, it's not too surprising to hear which current Bruin his style could be compared to.
"Ben is a hard-nosed two way player like Gregory Campbell," said Sweeney. "Good on faceoffs and the PK, but also has the ability to play up and down your lineup."
While all Bruins are tough and show tireless hard work, Campbell somehow finds a way to still set himself apart. He's always one of the first on the ice, or last off, staying to work on faceoffs, details of the game, skating, shooting, anything and everything.
The B's centerman has missed just six of a possible 229 regular season games since joining Boston at the start of the 2010-11 season. He's currently still working to get to 100 precent after coming back from a broken leg that caused him to miss the end of the run to the Stanley Cup Final.
With Sexton's strong start to 2013-14, he's on track to help his Knights be a top team in the ECAC and amongst college hockey this season.
Teamwork. Hustle. Dedication. Will. Determination.
When those are the words your team decides to bestow upon you, it certainly speaks volumes beyond just the Clarkson locker room.
Adversity happens, and the way Sexton has responded time after time, has proven his 'ironman' status.
"Injuries are something that you can’t really prevent, so I just had that mentality, and I knew that when I came back, I was going to be the player that I wanted to be," Sexton told BostonBruins.com, after he had overcome his injuries.
"Just to have the mentality to go out there and work your hardest every day, and just let things happen."