OXFORD, Ohio – It’s exceedingly rare that a Michigan-born Division I starter not dress for a single Juniors game before turning 18.

Clement on senior night (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

But Jack Clement was busy winning a pair of state championships with his high school team, Brother Rice, earning titles his sophomore and senior years.

Not only has the defenseman ultimately thrived as a cog of the Miami defense corps for four years, he was named captain prior to this season.

“Playing hockey at the next level when you’re in the high school years…that was the route that I was going to give it a shot,” Clement said. “I didn’t know how that was going to pan out once I got to Juniors, but coming out of high school I wanted to give it an honest shot to see where it would go.”

Clement grew up in Bloomfield Hills, about 30 miles northwest of Detroit. He was named captain of Brother Rice as a senior and scored 18 goals and dished for 30 assists en route to a high school state championship.

“An opportunity to play for my school I thought seemed pretty cool – not a lot of kids get to do that,” Clement said. “Going to school every day with the people you play hockey with really interested me and really excited me. And honestly, that was one of the best decisions I could’ve made in my hockey career and in my life.”

Scouts from NAHL Shreveport had seen Clement play in some tournaments, and since he already had a close friend on the team, Clement finally moved to Louisiana to begin his juniors career in 2017-18.

Clement posted a defensemen-best 11 goals, and he added 21 assists for 32 points as the Mudbugs won the league championship — the Robertson Cup – with Clement picking up three assists in 13 postseason games.

Following that stellar Juniors debut, Clement earned a starting job at a higher level with USHL Des Moines, and he went 2-12-14 in 60 games there.  

Clement’s first collegiate game vs. Bowling Green in 2019 (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Clement had committed to Omaha via Peter Mannino, but when Mannino was hired by Miami in the spring of 2018, he switched his commitment to the RedHawks based on the relationship the duo had built.

“This was always a school I wanted to go to, growing up in Michigan,” Clement said. “It’s closer to my house, and the history of Miami hockey was something that I always followed.”

The entire Miami coaching staff, including Mannino, was let go prior to Clement’s freshman season, but he stuck with Miami since he was recruited by assistant coach Barry Schutte while Schutte was at Bowling Green.

Also, Clement’s older sister, Madison, graduated from Miami, and his younger sister, Megan, is currently a Miami student.

From Day 1 since setting foot in Oxford, Clement permanently etched his name on the lineup card. Listed at 6-feet-4 and 205 pounds, he dressed for 33 of 34 games as a freshman.

“I guess I didn’t totally know what to expect,” Clement said. “(Schutte) said that there’s going to be a lot of opportunity (to play) right away, it’s just what you do with the opportunity that’s going to determine what happens next. My mindset coming into that door Day 1 was: Just be ready for anything that’s thrown at you and take advantage of any opportunity that’s given.”

Clement finished his rookie campaign with four goals and five assists, and the first two markers of his collegiate career came in back-to-back games against Colgate on Oct. 25-26, 2019.

Clement in a home game vs. St. Cloud State during the Bubble season (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

As a sophomore during the Bubble season, Clement dressed for all 25 games, going 2-1-3, and he scored a goal and dished for seven helpers his junior season, again playing in all 36 games.

Clement didn’t miss a game this regular season either, scoring twice and tacking on three assists in 34 contests, including a game winner in the closing minutes at North Dakota, when he stripped the puck deep in the offensive zone, skated along the goal line and whipped a shot into the net from a bad angle.

“I’ve definitely seen that very consistent improvement from ‘Clem’,” senior forward Joe Cassetti said. “I think that he’s confident in his qualities, and that helps him, and I know each and every day I’m battling battle against him in practice it gets tougher and tougher. I think he’s been getting better each and every day.”

Much of Clement’s impact doesn’t appear on a scoresheet. With his big frame, he ties up defenders along the boards and uses his long reach to break up would-be scoring chances.

“I know in practice he’s my least favorite guy to go up against,” Cassetti said. “He’s really big and strong and he’s going one of the strongest sticks I’ve ever played against, and he blocks more shots than anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s really effective out there.”

And he has gotten better year-by-year as he has developed physically.

Clement leads the team with 53 blocked shots this season and has been a key reason Miami has killed 89.7 percent of its penalties the last eight games.

Clement blocks a shot in Omaha his junior season (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

“Something that was going to help me develop my game over these last three or four years was going to be my strength and my conditioning,” Clement said. “That was something that was said to me by (coach Chris Bergeron), by the coaches, and it hit home for me and was something that I really wanted to focus on in the summer. So in the summers it’s just making strides to that next season, and I think the last two years specifically I’ve gotten bigger, faster, stronger, and it’s allowed me to develop my game to be more of a physical player, because I’ve always been a bigger body but now I’m able to use it, (which) has helped developed my game.”

Clement was named the 37th captain of the RedHawks weeks before the start of this season, joining an elite group that includes both Schutte and Bergeron.

He was also named a finalist for the conference’s Sportsmanship Award on Thursday.

“I feel like he’s one of those guys that if he speaks up in a room, guys will stop what they’re doing to listen,” Cassetti said. “He’s got a tremendous influence on all of the guys, and I think that’s partially because he backs it up with his work ethic on the ice. He definitely, 100 percent, has the respect of everyone within the organization.”  

Being captain obviously goes beyond on-ice performance, and Cassetti said Clement is someone he could pick up the phone and talk to for hours at any time.

“I know I can always go to him for anything,” Cassetti said. “He’s just one of those dependable, loyal, great guys that you can always go to.”

Clement clearing out a Michigan State forward this season (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Some players have initially struggled under the weight of captaincy at Miami, including current Columbus Blue Jackets assistant captain Sean Kuraly, but Clement is enjoying his best overall season as a first-pairing D-man charged with shutting down opponents’ top lines.

“It’s definitely a huge honor and something that I’m proud of and something I take a lot of pride in,” Clement said. “Over the last year – specifically since being named captain – making sure the younger guys feel welcome right away I think is super important. It’s hard enough to come to college, you don’t really know anyone, you come to a team and you’re not really sure what to expect. In order for you to be the player you want to be on the ice you’ve got to feel comfortable off it.”

Clement had several potential NCHC suitors interested in his services, but ultimately Miami won out, and he has made the most of his four seasons with Miami and has loved his stay in Oxford.

“This experience has been awesome – I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Clement said. “Obviously we want more wins, but what I’ve learned as a person, and a player over these past four years, the influence that Berge and the coaches have had over my life and the relationships I’ve built with them and my teammates here at Miami, I can’t imagine not having gone through this. It’s something that I’m really grateful for and that I’m proud to be a part of.”


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