Clarkson men's hockey opens New Year with Monday-Tuesday series vs #3-Ranked UMD
With victories in six of its last seven games, including four straight wins before the lengthy break, the Clarkson University Hockey team entered the holidays with plenty of momentum and confidence. After a 21-day layoff, the Golden Knights will look to pick up where they left off as they start the New Year with their toughest stretch of the season. Guided by eighth-year head coach George Roll, associate coach Greg Drechsel and assistant coach Chris Rogles, Clarkson plays five consecutive games against teams ranked among the Top 15 in the national polls beginning with a rare Monday-Tuesday series against 3rd-ranked the University of Minnesota-Duluth at Cheel Arena. Both games are 7:00 p.m. faceoffs.
Led by junior captain Mark Borowiecki (Kanata, ONT) and assistant captains, senior Brandon DeFazio (Oakville, ONT) and junior Jake Morley (Ogdensburg, NY), Clarkson has already surpassed last year’s win total, skating to a 10-5-2 overall record in the 2010 portion of the schedule. Picked to place 12th in the league standings by the ECAC Hockey preseason coaches’ poll, the Knights begin 2011 tied for fourth place in the conference with a 4-2-1 ECAC Hockey mark.In its final game before the break, Clarkson posted its most productive offensive outing in over 11 years with a 9-2 drubbing of Sacred Heart in Milford, CT on December 12. DeFazio highlighted the offensive outburst with his second consecutive hat trick. DeFazio, who also tallied three third-period goals in the Knights’ 5-3 win at Quinnipiac on December 4, leads a balanced Clarkson scoring effort with 17 points, including a team-high nine goals.
Nineteen players have scored at least one goal this season for Clarkson, which has totaled 19 over the past three games. Emerging as one of the top rookies in ECAC Hockey, freshman Matt Zarbo (Grand Island, NY)is the Green and Gold’s second leading scorer, averaging a point a game with six goals and seven assists through 13 contests. Senior Scott Freeman (Whitby, ONT) (6-6) and Morley (5-7) both have 12 points. Junior Nick Tremblay (Candiac, QUE) rounds out the double-figure scorers with 10 points (4-6).
Junior Paul Karpowich (Thunder Bay, ONT) has started 16 games in the Clarkson goal and posts a .925 save percentage, a 2.58 goals against average and a 10-4-2 record, including one shutout.
The Knights’ penalty-killing unit ranks among the best in the nation, killing off 84 of 96 opponent power plays (88%) and as tallied five shorthanded markers, led by two shorties from Morley. Clarkson’s power play, which was almost non-existent early in the season, has started to come around, connecting for five goals in the last 18 man-advantage chances. For the season, the Knights are 8-of-68 (12%) on the power play.
Minnesota-Duluth has been one of the top teams in the country throughout the first half of the season, earning number one status for several weeks. The Bulldogs own a 12-4-3 overall record and 9-3-2 WCHA mark. After experiencing just one loss through its first 14 games, the Bulldogs have slump a bit going just 1-3-1 in December. On Thursday, UMD lost 5-0 to North Dakota in the grand opening of its new home the AMSOIL Arena.
UMD, guided by head coach Scott Sandelin boast one of the top offenses in the country, averaging 3.53 goals per game through the first 19 contests. Jack Connolly leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 25 points, including a team-high 17 assists. Mike Connolly (11-12) and Justin Fontaine (9-14) follow with 23 points each. UMD will be without the services of two top defensemen for the start of the New Year as Justin Faulk (United States) and Dylan Olsen (Canada) are competing in the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship that runs through January 5 in Buffalo, NY.
By sweeping the Knights last season at the DECC, Minnesota-Duluth has taken a 4-2 lead in their short series. The Bulldogs have won three straight in the rivalry, including 4-1 and 4-2 victories on October 30-31, 2009 in Minnesota. Prior to last season‘s meetings, the teams last played 12 years ago with the Bulldogs skating to a 5-2 win in the opening round of the 1997 Syracuse Invitational Tournament on December 27. In its only appearance at the Duluth Entertainment & Convention Center, the Knights were edged by UMD in the 1984 NCAA Tournament total-goal first round series. Clarkson lost the first game 6-2 and won the second game 6-3, but fell one-goal short for the weekend (9-8). The Knights won the first meeting, shutting out the Bulldogs 6-0 in first round of the Hartford Tournament in Connecticut on January 3, 1981. Mark Borowiecki, Brandon DeFazio and Jake Morley are the only current Knights to have scored a goal against UMD, which is making its first trip to Potsdam.
Clarkson went into the lengthy 21-day holiday break riding its longest winning streak in almost two years … The Knights have won four straight, all away from Cheel Arena, and six of their last seven to improve their overall record to 10-5-2 after posting just nine wins for all of last season … Clarkson is coming off its most productive offensive showing in almost 12 years with the 9-2 victory at Sacred Heart … The Knights have scored 19 goals over their past three games … Brandon DeFazio became the first Knight to record hat tricks in consecutive games since Mike Prestidge ’81 accomplished the feat late in the 1979-80 campaign. DeFazio tallied three goals in the win over Sacred Heart after scoring three third-period goals in December 4’s 5-3 victory at Quinnipiac … Clarkson is 4-3-2 at Cheel Arena this season and has been outscored 26-24 on its home ice … The Knights are 6-2 outside of Potsdam and have outscored their opponents 30-22 on the road … After the games against UMD, the Green and Gold will play six of their next eight games on the road, beginning with Rensselaer and Union this weekend … The Knights are 9-0-2 when scoring first and 10-0-1 when leading or tied after two periods … Clarkson is 6-2-1 when outshot by its opponents … The Knights have scored just eight power-play goals this season, but have tallied three man-advantage goals in a game twice (3-6 vs. Colgate and 3-8 vs. Sacred Heart) … Jake Morley (2-3 – four games), Scott Freeman (2-2 – three games) and Matt Zarbo (1-3 – three games) enter the New Year with the longest current point-scoring streaks for the Knights … Freeman is looking to become the next Knight to reach the century mark in scoring. Through 119 career games, he has tallied 81 points (24-57) ... Clarkson was receiving votes in the last USCHO.com poll on December 13. The last time Clarkson cracked the top 20 in the national polls was a 16th-place ranking on November 10, 2008.