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

Friday, March 03, 2006

ECAC(HL) Men's 1st Round Playoff Preview - Part 4

Finally it's the preview we've been waiting for pitting the #9 seed Princeton Tigers against the #8 seed Clarkson Golden Knights at Cheel Arena. Clarkson gets another shot at its recent ECAC playoff rival who have met up six times since 1995. Clarkson holds a 4-2 edge over the Tigers at the moment. Here's a look at those previous meetings:

1995 Semi-Finals
Princeton 2, Clarkson 1

1997 Semi-Finals
Clarkson 5 - Princeton 1

1998 Championship
Princeton 5 - Clarkson 4 (OT)

1999 Semi-Finals
Clarkson 6 - Princeton 5

2000 Quarterfinal
Clarkson 3 - Princeton 2
Clarkson 2 - Princeton 1

However, this is all history and 2006 brings us a new meeting which should prove to be as exciting as the last six.

Why Princeton will win:
Princeton come in coming off a solid three point weekend at Brown and Yale which propelled the Tigers into the 9th spot. Lead by junior forward Grant Goeckner-Zoeller the Tigers offense has averaged 2.76 goals per game. However Princeton's offense has been clicking as of late averaging 3.5 goals per game in their last eight games. Combine this with a Clarkson defense which gives up three goals per game and the Tigers are in solid position to make things challenging for the Knights. The Tigers 4-10-1 road record isn't the best in the conference, but the Tigers have taken big wins on the road against Notre Dame and Denver this season.

In net Eric Leroux can steal games. In a weekend sweep of Colgate and Cornell Leroux made 59 saves on the weekend on 62 shots, including 34 in a shutout of Cornell. The defense in front of him led by senior Brian Carthas will need to try and clamp down the Knights attack and play better than their regular season three goals allowed per game pace.

On special teams the Tigers will have to work hard to solve Clarkson's 87% penalty kill. Princeton has been scoring at an 18% clip on the powerplay which was good enough for 4th in the league, the Tigers will need to continue this pace to be competitive with the Knights who are 2nd in the league in penalty minutes. If Princeton can figure out the Knights on the power play they have a legitimate shot to take two games in Potsdam.

Why Clarkson will win:
There was a collective sigh of relief when the results came in on February 18th. When it was known that the Knights had locked up a home playoff spot, hope sprang eternal from many Knights fans. The Golden Knights are an impressive 12-2-2 at home this year and are 8-1-2 at home in league play. The Knights have not lost at home since November. However playing at home will not ensure victory. To quote head coach George Roll, "Princeton would be a tough matchup for us...just playing at home doesn't guarantee us a win." Guarantee, no, but home ice advantage will play a major roll for the Knights this weekend.

Clarkson is led by player of the year candidate Nick Dodge who has put up 15 goals and 37 points this season. The Knights feature a balanced attack, which when they play to their full potential, is the arguably the most talented team in the league. Coach Roll will need to tap into that potential and get the Knights to put forth two sixty minute efforts this week. If Clarkson relaxes for a period or two, things will get ugly for the Knights.

The Golden Knights feature the 3rd best offense in the league with a 3.21 goals per game average. Princeton gives up about three a game on average which should play into the Knight's hands. On the power play Clarkson was second in the league with a 19.7% conversion rate. This matched up with Princeton's 83.3% penalty kill and the Knights will be looking to cash in on special teams. This is the one aspect of the game that will decide the series.

In net Clarkson will start sophomore David Leggio who won the starter's role three weeks ago with an impressive showing against Cornell and Colgate. Though Leggio stumbled a bit against Dartmouth, Coach Roll went with him the next night and he made 37 saves in a one goal loss to Harvard. A healthy defense in front of Leggio will prove to be a major factor as Chris Brekelmans is expected to play despite injuring his back last weekend.

Speaking of injuries the Knights will have star rookie Shea Guthrie back in the line up after a week out with a separated shoulder. Shea provides a spark for the Knights on a line with Shawn Weller and Steve Zalewski. His return to the lineup should be a motivation for the Knights. The less dependent on the Dodge, Sullivan, and Cayer line the Knights are, the better their chances are for taking this series.

Princeton will keep it close on Friday, but won't avoid a sweep the next night.

Clarkson 4 - Princeton 3
Clarkson 5 - Princeton 2


Anonymous Jarsh said...

"1998 Championship
Princeton 5 - Clarkson 4 (OT)"

Worst. Game. Ever.

4:12 PM


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