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

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fear and Loathing on the College Hockey Trail

Pack up the car, charge the iPod, and sharpen up the skates, cause half of Clarkson Hockey Fans is headed on a road trip to the frozen tundra of Potsdam, New York. This is not my first trip to Cheel this season, I saw the debacle that was the USA U-18 game, and it will not be my last game of the season. This trip will only last one game though as a day off and prior engagements will limit me to Friday's men's and women's games. There has been a noticeable buzz generating about the Clarkson Golden Knights this season, and I intend to catch some of it this weekend. With a little luck we may even see live game blogging, a Clarkson Hockey Fans first. Live blogging or not, I'm looking forward to this trip and am very anxious to the see the men's team play a meaningful game against a high quality opponent.

Quinnipiac is coming off a three point weekend at Union and RPI, while Princeton is coming off a zero point weekend against the same teams. Quinnipiac is a team loaded with offensive talent that while picked to finish in the middle of the pack, will contend for a first round bye at the end of the season. The Bobcats have the second ranked offense in the ECAC behind Clarkson and are scoring at 4.25 goals per game clip. Their defense is ranked 6th in the league and gives up just under 3 goals per game. So far on the road the Bobcats are 2-2-2 this year with the two losses coming at North Dakota in the first weekend of the season. Both of the Bobcats road wins came against Union, who the Bobcats played two games in a row, in the consolation game of the Governor's Cup and the following weekend to open the ECAC season.

Right now the Bobcats are lead by freshman Brandon Wong who has six goals and two assists Brian Leitch and Dan Travis who have two goals and six assists each. Quinnipiac has three solid scoring lines and a fourth line that head coach Rand Pecknold really likes. They can score with anyone of the lines they put out and Clarkson will need to be on their toes to keep the puck out of the net. On defense the Bobcats turn to All American, Reid Cashman. Cashman is the anchor of a young defensive corps and will be held to task this weekend against the number one offense in the country. In net Bud Fisher is having a solid start to his sophomore campaign and has put very similar numbers to Clarkson netminder David Leggio.

The Golden Knights face their third straight opponent in where they will be expected to play a near perfect game. In the past two against Harvard and Dartmouth the Knights met the challenge. I would expect coach Roll and staff to have the team ready for this game. The game will hinge on the special teams play of both squads as the new rules interpretations are still being learned and the calls will be numerous. Clarkson will rely on it's defense without out senior leader Michael Grenzy, who will be sidelined until Thanksgiving rehabbing a separated shoulder. Even with that I will predict a Clarkson victory, in a close, possibly high scoring game.

Saturday night against Princeton is a classic 'trap game.' Sports fans in general know when their team is heading into a trap. The opponent is weaker on paper, the victory should be in hand, and yet the favorite team stinks out the joint and is upset. It happens at least a dozen times a year in the NFL. It's inevitable. In college hockey the trap game can be a season breaker, just ask Minnesota. Princeton is a team that is far inferior to Clarkson talent wise and statistic wise. However, this game falls on a Saturday after three pivotal games and before a long trip to Minnesota to take on St. Cloud State. To say the Knights might over look this game would not be an overstatement.

The Tigers are not to be wrote off. After a 3-3 tie to open the season, the have suffered three straight 4-3 defeats. This is a team that will be coming into the north country angry and looking for validation. Lead by senior Kevin Westgarth the Tigers are a team that is looking to find their identity. Will the find it in St. Lawrence county? That remains to be seen, but to ignore Princeton is a big mistake the Knights can ill afford to make.

In the predicition department last weekend I was solid on Friday and laid a goose egg on Saturday. Those are the breaks. I was 5-5-2 on the weekend and move to 19-13-9 overall. Here's the take on this weekend's games:

  • Dartmouth at Colgate - Colgate continues to struggle. Dartmouth 4-1
  • Wayne State at Brown - Brown is better than WSU. Brown 4-2
  • Harvard at Cornell - Harvard off a big win, Cornell plays tough at Lynah. Cornell 2-1
  • Princeton at St. Lawrence - Too far to travel for the Tigers. SLU 5-1
  • Quinnipiac at Clarkson - Knights make a statement. Clarkson 6 - 3
  • Wayne State at Brown - Brown sweeps. Brown 4-1
  • Harvard at Colgate - Colgate is in trouble. Harvard 3-0
  • Quinnipiac at St. Lawrence - Quinnipiac splits the weekend. Quinnipiac 4-3
  • Dartmouth at Cornell - The Big Green sweeps. Dartmouth 4-3
  • UConn at Yale - Bulldogs win a game they should win. Yale 3-1
  • Princeton at Clarkson - Clarkson avoids the trap. Clarkson 5-2


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