Being a fan of any sports team, college or professional, one will experience a number of high points and low points throughout a season. For Clarkson fans this year we have seen the full spectrum of high points; Boston College, Dartmouth at home, Cornell. We have also seen the full array of low points; Colorado College, Maine, SLU at Appleton. Coming out of these peaks and valleys we have a team that is fundamentally solid, but seems to lack inspiration on certain nights. Clarkson will look to regain some of that inspiration on their last road trip of the regular season facing off against Union tonight and RPI tomorrow.
It's hard to determine what exactly is missing from this year's team from last year. Obviously through graduation Clarkson lost some of it's role players in Max Kolu and Brodie Rutherglen. Losing two regular defensemen in Mike Grenzy and Matt Curley also adds up. However the biggest losses come from losing two proven finishers in Mike Sullivan and Shawn Weller. It is the departure of Weller that has stricken the team with a loss of toughness and goal production that they have yet to find this season.
One could ask the question, "Don't players graduate and leave early all the time? What was it about this class that was so special?" I think the answer lies something we never get to see as fans, but I think the locker room demeanor of this team is very different from last year's squad. Last year's team was pretty laid back, while this year's team is more business like in their efforts. Could a gut wrenching loss in Rochester change the attitude of a team? Combined with player losses and I think we are seeing the answer right now.
So even with this 'set-back' Clarkson still holds first place in the league with 26 points. Last year at this point Clarkson was 11-4-3 and in second place with 25 points. Overall at this point in the season Clarkson held a 19-7-4 record overall, this year they are two games off that pace at 17-10-3. The biggest difference in the two teams is offensive production. This year's team sits at 2.73 goals per game average, last year's team averaged 3.48. In a more business like approach our team is maintaining wins per season while needing less goal to accomplish this.
The question still remains though, to which team will show up on the ice? The team that beat BC or the team that lost to Yale? As Clarkson moves into the ECAC playoffs and hopefully the NCAA tourney, the fans can only hope the business like approach pays off in the end.