SU’s mission clear

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

The St. Lawrence University and Clarkson college campuses are separated by less than a dozen miles. But in terms of men’s hockey, the two programs couldn’t be more farther apart.

The Golden Knights are the defending ECAC Hockey league champions, guided by ninth-year head coach (Casey Jones), who knows all the in-and-outs of college hockey. Clarkson can also boast a steady diet of former players who have advanced into the pro ranks in recent years.

Meanwhile, the Saints hit rock bottom last spring, ending ties with former head coach Mark Morris and then hiring Brent Brekke, who, ironically, came from Clarkson.

St. Lawrence is in full rebuilding mode with its roster, and the program hit another snag last month when it was announced the Saints’ return to their home building, Appleton Arena, would be delayed another six weeks because of further renovations that will continue into next month.

It’s an amazing study when you compare the two programs’ overall team statistics before the Christmas break.

Clarkson (11-3-1 overall) is 6-1-0 in the league standings, tied with Harvard for secondplace, trailing league leader Cornell by two points. St. Lawrence (3-12-2) is 1-6-0 and tied with Princeton for 11th place in the standings.

Winners of four straight games, the Golden Knights have a plus-19 goal differential, connected on 22.8 percent of power-play opportunities and killed off 58 of 63 man disadvantages for 92.1 percent, fourth-best among the nation’s 60 NCAA Division I programs.

The Saints, averaging fewer than two goals a game, have a minus-27 goal differential, connected on 12.9 percent of man-up situations and allowed 16 power-play goals in 78 chances to opponents for a mediocre 79.5 percent.

Despite the contrasts between the programs, when they meet it produces sellout crowds and compelling games.

The Saints have nothing to be ashamed about after their performances this season against the Golden Knights — a pair of nonconference, overtime losses last month and a 3-1 league setback last week. The difference in the series to date: SLU is 1-for-17 on the power play against its neighbor in three games, while Clarkson is 4-for-17.

In the north country’s highest profile of a collegiate rivalry, Clarkson has won four straight meetings, and five of the past six.

They are set to meet again Feb. 8 at Appleton in what should be a noisy, electric atmosphere inside a freshly updated hockey barn.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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