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

Friday, December 01, 2006

Weekend Preview

The Golden Knights enter a crucial five day stretch in which six league points will be up for grab. Friday at Yale the Knights look to upset a surprisingly strong Yale team. Saturday Clarkson takes on an improving Brown team, and of course Tuesday marks the first round of the North Country battle. If Clarkson continues it's play from the past weekend, the games should fall the Knights way. However, we've all seen the results when the effort isn't there.

In New Haven, Clarkson will take on a Yale squad that is playing well behind first year coach Keith Allain. The Bulldogs have not won in two weeks however, skating to a 4-4 tie with Mercyhurst on the 21st, and losing to BU last Saturday in OT. In a league where free skating and limited obstruction are being emphasized, the Bulldogs are throwing their weight around. Yale leads the league in penalty minutes per game at 28.2, in their four league games the Eli's have average 35 minutes per game. The Golden Knights will need to capitalize early and often in what is sure to be a game where the referees are will spend a good amount of time pointed skyward.

While there will be plenty of time for the powerplay to get some work in, the penalty kill will need to be just as sharp as the Knights are the second most penalized team in the league with 24.6 per game. Yale's penalty kill is 6th in the league at 84 percent while the Knights are 8th at 82 percent. Clarkson's powerplay leads the league at 22 percent while Yale's is 6th at 16 percent. On paper Clarkson should win the special team's battle. But we all know that games are not played on paper, they're played inside my computer.

Goaltending is going to be the make or break factor for all three teams this weekend. Yale's Alec Richards and Brown's Dan Rosen are starting to emerge as two of the top goalies in the league. Richards showed some brilliance last year, but his defense in front of him was pretty awful and he was hung out to dry too many times. Rosen is an unknown who's sample size of games is kind of small to be making him goaltender of the year just yet, but Clarkson seems to have a knack of making unknowns look like Patrick Roy. Special teams are the great equalizer however. No matter how good a goalie is playing, sometimes it's hard to stop a 5 on 3 powerplay. The success of the weekend will boil down to how the Knights execute and adapt with their powerplay and penalty kill.

For predictions, I like the way this weekend shapes up for the Knights. Three games then three weeks off. The Knights should be expected to put forth a good effort and re-establish their buzz around the league. Six points is a possibility but they have to put forth a sixty minute effort for all three games.

Clarkson 4 - Yale 1
Clarkson 5 - Brown 2

And I'll save my SLU pick for Tuesday.


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