POTSDAM — Clarkson and St. Lawrence University’s men’s hockey teams faced each other in two tense overtime nonconference games last weekend, but both teams felt the weekend set will help them prepare for ECAC Hockey play, which starts tonight with a road trip to the Capital District.
Clarkson (5-2-1 overall) and ranked No. 8 nationally, which won the tournament title last year, won both games this weekend, edging the Saints 4-3 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday. The Golden Knights begin conference play at 7 tonight at Union in Schenectady, while SLU (2-5-1) plays at the same time at RPI in Troy. The teams swap opponents Saturday.
“Every game in the ECAC is going to be a battle,” SLU defenseman Dylan Woolf said. “We approach it that way. I hope this will give us some confidence moving forward. But at the end of the day we’ve got to be better. The good thing is we get (Clarkson) two more times this year and hopefully we’ll change that outcome next time.”
Last weekend’s games gave the freshman players on both squads an early look at how different ECAC Hockey games are compared to the style of play in many of their nonconference games.
“It’s tight-checking, you have to earn your ice, that’s for sure,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said of conference games. “The crowds were great, it was exciting games to play. We are hoping it will propel us right into (league play).”
Said Clarkson captain Devin Brosseau, “I think it was a big weekend for us, especially character-wise, heading into the ECAC. It’s fun to play a couple nonconference games against an ECAC team, a little less room out there and a little less scoring opportunities. I think we are ready for it and ready to start going.”
Saints coach Brent Brekke, who was an assistant at Clarkson last year, has already seen some improvement from his SLU squad, which won only six games last season.
“(Clarkson) is a good team and Casey does a great job,” Brekke said. “They are talented and it’s a good test. I told the guys the nice thing is we get to play them twice more. That’s a good measuring stick for us. They are going to be a top team across the country all year long. We are close but we have a lot of work left to do and we have to be better than what we’ve shown in the two games (last) weekend.”
LOCALS DOMINATE MONTHLY HONORS
Four of the six players who won ECAC Hockey monthly awards on both the men’s and women’s side were from area schools, including both Players of the Month.
Clarkson’s Josh Dunne was the men’s Player of the Month for October and Golden Knight Frank Marotte, a transfer from Robert Morris, was the Goalie of the Month.
SLU’s Kayla Vespa was the women’s Player of the Month and Saints teammate Anna Segedi was the women’s Rookie of the Month.
ATHLETES MAKING MONEY IN FUTURE
Last week the NCAA Board of Governors voted to allow athletes to begin to make money in the future from the use of their name, image and likeness, opening the way for future Clarkson and St. Lawrence University hockey players, as well as any area Division III athlete, to be paid for advertisements from local businesses.
The change would not start until sometime in 2021.
“It’s an opportunity there,” said Jones. “There is a lot of money in college sports right now and not a lot trickling down in terms of the athletes. It’s an opportunity for those people. I hope it’s treated properly and things are done right. If (players) can get something in the community to help raise awareness for companies, good for them. It’s going to be interesting to see what trickles into hockey and what impact it has on college hockey.”
Said Brosseau, who will be gone by the time the new rules take effect, “I think it’s cool, especially for the big-time players in football and basketball. I think those guys deserve to get compensated for teams that use their name for their main advertising. I don’t think it will change all that much, but it’s a step forward for the NCAA and all the players.”
NEWER GLASS AT CHEEL
Clarkson already had to replace the new glass it installed before the start of the season due to visibility issues. Clarkson’s glass was eight feet all the way around the arena but made of a plastic and it was causing distorted views when looking through it down to the other end of the playing surface.
The school still has eight-foot glass behind the netting, but the side glass is now six feet, which is still one foot higher than had been installed in previous seasons.
Clarkson donated the glass that existed before this season to a few local community rinks in Parishville and Colton.
“Parishville got the dasher boards and the low glass and Colton got all the big glass,” Clarkson athletic director Scott Smalling said.