Did You Know: The Clarkson Hockey program has amassed 10,001 goals since the 1920-21 season?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

CHF Interview with Head Coach George Roll (2/23/2006)

The head coach of Clarkson's Men's Hockey Team, George Roll was kind enough to join us for a quick chat in advance of the Harvard and Dartmouth weekend as well as the upcoming ECACHL playoffs. As assistant at Clarkson from 1988 to 1996, Roll rejoined Clarkson in 2003 after a seven year stint at Oswego, in which he led the Lakers to the NCAA title game and was named Division III coach of the year. Coach Roll played for four years at Bowling Green where he was a member of the 1983-1984 national championship team. There he played under former Clarkson, and current Boston College coach Jerry York.

CHF: With the playoffs looming, Clarkson could end up facing Yale, Quinnipiac, Princeton or Brown. Any particular team you’d like to avoid in the first round?

Coach Roll: Not really. We feel comfortable playing any of those teams at home. Every team presents different challenges, whatever team comes in we need to be ready to play.

CHF: Why does this team play so well at home? Can you get any momentum from this past weekend to carry over at Dartmouth and Harvard?

Coach Roll: We hope so. We know our record on the road is not good, but we’ve had good performances on the road. Played very good at Colgate, very good at Princeton. If we get past the first round, we know we’ve got to go on the road in the second round. I think this is a real key weekend for us to prove to ourselves more than anybody that we can win on the road.

CHF: What do you make of the “Bonesaw” phenomenon in the student section?

Coach Roll: (laughs) I’m not sure what it’s from. But I like it. Our students and the band have been phenomenal this year. They’ve given us great support, and I think it’s one of the reasons for our success at home. The guys like it, and it’s a real big plus for us having that support. The team has been able to feed off that, and create energy in this building that I haven’t seen since I was an assistant.

CHF: Will you start McNulty if David Leggio has a close loss?

Coach Roll: It remains to be seen. It depends on the scenarios. We spoke to both goalies before Colgate and Cornell, and explained that if one of those guys got hot, we would be coming back with them. David got the reins and has run with it, but that won’t say that Kyle won’t get a start later in the season. David is the guy for us right now, and he’s been solid for four straight games, so I can’t say I wouldn’t go back to him if it were a close loss.

CHF: What's the word on Shea Guthrie? Will he see ice this weekend?

Coach Roll: No, he’s definitely out this weekend. We’ll see how he progresses for next week.

CHF: We've seen a lot of changes on the fourth line. What determines who gets to play on that spot on that particular day?

Coach Roll: Some of it is based on the opponent and their style, as well as how those players are playing. All of those guys work extremely hard in practice, and we know what our top three lines are. We just want to rotate the fourth line and keep them fresh. We’ve been happy with all of the combinations of fourth lines that we’ve had this season. We’ll go out and put the best fourth line out there against each opponent on a given night.

CHF: Who is the unsung hero of the team this year? (Feel free to name a sidekick as well.)

Coach Roll: I think for me, Chris Breklemans. Although he has contributed offensively, I think his leadership and work ethic is second to none on our team, and is the heart of our team, providing outstanding leadership. A lot of the fans will talk about Nick, Shea, and Shawn guys who provide offensive leadership, but I would go with Chris for sure.

CHF: We've heard some stories about your assistants traveling to the ends of the earth on recruiting trips, what are you looking for in a recruit? And how do you bring in someone to Potsdam, considering it is Potsdam?

Coach Roll: For us, Greg and JF, our first two recruiting classes are this year’s freshmen and sophomores, and we’re really proud of those classes, even our Junior class which was a late start for us. We’re really proud of our recruiting efforts. The experience our players have really helps sell the experience to the recruits. The small town commitment and feel with the tight community and tradition, a lot of recruits like that. They’re not always wowed by the Michigans, Ohio States, and those are the type of players we’re looking to bring in here. We’re very confident that Potsdam is a good place, and Clarkson is a great place to play and get a quality education, and we’ll continue to build on it.

CHF: What is the word on the recruits coming in?

Coach Roll: We only lose two guys, so we don’t need a big class. We’re really happy with the core defense and forwards returning next year. We have a number of kids committed for next year. It’s not to say we’re done with what we have for next year, but we’re probably looking for one or two to finish it out. We’re in no hurry because the core group we have, we don’t feel we have to upgrade in many areas.

CHF: You went back to your alma matter, Bowling Green, this year. How was the reception? We're there any butterflies at the opening faceoff?

Coach Roll: Yeah, no question. Obviously winning helps. It was a great experience. I got a nice ovation when I was introduced, and it was a big moment as a coach. It was great to go back and see a lot of old friends and family, and it’s a really positive experience for myself, and the team as well.

CHF: Oswego is vying for the SUNYAC championship. Do you still keep up with your former team?

Coach Roll: Without question. I actually went to a game last night with the assistant coach from Oswego. I talk to Eddie (Gosek) almost daily, and I certainly feel very good about what Eddie has done at Oswego and I follow them every week. I know they’ve got Plattsburgh this week, and I’ll be following that close. It’s a great community and program and I wish Eddie and the team nothing but the best.

CHF: How does it feel to be back-to-back Commissioners Cup Champs? Is it true the cup ended up in the bottom of your pool last year?

Coach Roll: I don’t know anything about that… I think you do follow it, but with the team and our struggles we’ve had over the past two years its secondary. It’s good for the league and something for the league to be proud of. For our program itself, I don’t think it’s been something we’ve focused on at all.

CHF: Bart said you've lost hair and become better dressed since the mid 90's, how do you respond to this?

Coach Roll: I don’t know if I’ve lost hair, it’s gone gray. The dress part I can attribute to Greg and JF, they let me know if what I’m wearing works. If I’ve been improving it’s because of them.

CHF: Do you pay attention to online forums such as the Roundtable and our shenanigans? Rumor has it that you’re really “Goldie Knight” in disguise.

Coach Roll: No disrespect to the forums, but fans are fans, and we know we’ve got a job to do here and we put the best effort we can and we feel that we’re heading in the right direction. They have opinions on different issues, but it’s not something that I look at regularly. It’s not something that I dwell on, I know in my heart we’re doing the right thing, and very shortly we’re going to be a great team on the national level. In fact, I’m lucky to turn the computer on at all.

CHF: Dunkin’ Donuts or Tim Hortons?:

Coach Roll: Tim’s. Greg would kill me if I didn’t say Tim’s.

CHF: What’s your favorite hockey cliché?

Coach Roll: Don’t worry about the rabbits or the elephants will getcha. Essentially don’t worry about the small stuff., the things you can’t control. I got that from Jerry York.


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