Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Albany - Here We Come!!!

. Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Back to Albany after a three year absence, the Clarkson University Hockey team has its sights set upon claiming the storied program’s fifth ECAC Hockey League Tournament Championship crown. Guided by fourth-year head coach George Roll, associate coach Greg Drechsel and assistant coach Jean-Francois Houle, the Golden Knights advanced to the semifinal round for the first time since 2004 and for the 31st time overall after a hard-fought effort in the quarterfinal round.

Clarkson will face off against Dartmouth in the second semifinal contest at the Times Union Center on Friday at 8:00 p.m. St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac will meet in the first semifinal game beginning at 4:30 p.m. The winners on Friday will face off in Saturday’s championship game at 8:07 p.m. The consolation contest will take place in the afternoon, beginning at 4:30 p.m. College Sports Television (CSTV) will broadcast the championship game live. All four games of the ECACHL championship weekend will be broadcast live worldwide via streaming on B2 Networks. All games can be accessed through http://www.b2now.com/submarketpage/ecachl/ or through the league’s website at www.ecachockeyleague.com.

The second seed in the ECACHL playoffs, Clarkson swept defending tournament champion Harvard last weekend at Cheel Arena, working past the seventh-seeded Crimson, 3-0 and 2-1. Junior goaltender David Leggio (Williamsville, NY) was at the top of his game to start the playoffs, combining for 64 saves on 65 shots and allowing just one power-play goal in the quarterfinal-round sweep of Harvard. He posted 27 saves, including 18 in the second period, in Friday’s win for his second shutout of the season and the Crimson’s first blanking in 86 games. He followed on Saturday with 37 saves, including a penalty-shot stop.

Led by junior captain Nick Dodge (Oakville, ONT) and senior assistant captain Matt Curley (Madrid, NY), the Knights have won three straight and are 7-1-1 in their last nine games. Ranked 5th in the national polls, the Green and Gold own a 23-8-5 overall record, their most victories since the 1998-99 campaign when they posted 25 en route to the program’s last ECACHL championship.

Clarkson closed out the 2006-07 ECACHL campaign tied for first, along with Quinnipiac, in goals per game (3.36) in the conference, and first in defense, allowing only 2.41 goals per game in league play. The Knights also ranked high in specialty teams play during conference action. Clarkson owned both the second-rated power-play (21%) and penalty kill (88.4%) in the ECACHL.

Featuring four players scoring 32 points or more overall, the Knights are sixth in the nation in scoring (3.53 GPG). Dodge paces the balanced Clarkson offense with 37 points on 17 goals and 20 assists. The Knights’ power-play, which has connected for at least one man-advantage goal in each of the last 12 games, is ranked third in the Division I, clicking at 22.8% (51-224). Leggio backbones Clarkson’s defensive effort with a .931 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average.

Clarkson has been a power in the ECACHL since the league was formed at the start of the 1961-62 season. The Knights, who have participated in 45 of the conference’s 46 postseason tournaments, have won four league championships (1966, 1991, 1993, 1999). Clarkson owns a 77-57-5 record in the ECACHL playoffs, including a 12-18 mark in the semifinals. The Knights have advanced to 30 league championship tournaments with their last appearance coming in 2004 when they skated all the way to the title game as the number nine seed before losing to Harvard, 4-2.

A tournament veteran having played in the last four semifinal rounds, the Big Green of Dartmouth are striving to advance the ECACHL championship game for the first time during 10th-year head coach Bob Gaudet’s tenure. Dartmouth has played in two titles games, finishing as the runner-up in 1979 and 1980. Last year, Dartmouth lost to Harvard, 10-1 in the semifinals. The Big Green enter the 2007 tourney on a tear, having won six straight and nine of their last 10. In quarterfinal-round action at Thompson Arena in Hanover, NH, third-seeded Dartmouth overwhelmed sixth seed Princeton 6-2 on Friday and then edged the Tigers 3-2 on Saturday. The Big Green are ranked 14th in the country and own an 18-10-3 overall record and finished third in the league with a 12-7-3 ECACHL mark.

The surprise team in the conference this season, St. Lawrence University, picked to finish sixth in the standings, skated its way to the regular season title with a 16-5-1 league mark, finishing three points in front of Clarkson. Guided by 22nd-year head coach Joe Marsh, the Saints are ranked 10th in the country and own a 22-12-2 overall record. St. Lawrence has won eight of its last nine games, including an impressive sweep of eighth-seeded Colgate in the quarterfinal round at Appleton Arena in Canton. The Saints posted 6-1 and 5-1 victories over the Raiders to advance to the semifinal round for the first time since 2001 when the team won its sixth ECACHL Tournament championship.

Playing in only its second season in the ECACHL, Quinnipiac University has certainly made itself noticed in the conference. The Bobcats, guided by 13th-year head coach Rand Pecknold, finished tied for fourth in the standings with a 10-8-4 league slate, and have gone 4-0 in the playoffs. After defeating Union (3-1, 5-4 ot) in first round action at the TD Banknorth Sports Center in Hamden, CT on March 2-3, Quinnipiac skated into Ithaca, NY this past weekend and swept perennial ECACHL powerhouse Cornell at Lynah Rink, winning 1-0 in overtime and 3-2. The Bobcats own a 20-13-5 overall record and are ranked 18th in the nation.