ECAC Notebook: Thursday
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
PARTNERS IN CRIME
This weekend, St. Lawrence and Clarkson will attempt to become just the second pair of travel partners to face off in the ECAC Championship game since 1991. The last such occurrence, in 1999, also involved the Saints and the Golden Knights. That was also the last time that both North Country teams advanced to the ECAC Final Four.
This year, St. Lawrence and Clarkson represent the top two seeds in the tournament, and certainly, each has benefited from the other team's strong play all year.
Said St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh, "We know how good they are, first hand, as our travel partner. Whether they know it or not, they keep raising the bar up for us. To be chasing them and to be associated with them is a tremendous plus for us. It creates so much hockey interest in this area.
"Even though we're archrivals, our two teams are pretty joined at the hip. And they go along way in helping us inadvertently. It's a pretty nice thing to have a partner as good as they are."
This year marks the first time since 1999 that neither Cornell nor Harvard — which have alternated as the last five ECAC champions — will play in the league's final four.
In addition, only one of last year's participants (Bob Gaudet and the Dartmouth Big Green) returns this year. Still, the other three coaches are no strangers to conference tournaments.
Clarkson coach George Roll took the Knights to the championship game in 2004 and has won championships at the Division III level; Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold has coached his team to a conference title in the MAAC (now Atlantic Hockey) as recently as 2002; and St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh has won five ECAC titles, including back-to-back triumphs in 2000 and 2001.
"I don't think I'd get in nowadays, let's put it that way." - Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, on his thoughts regarding coaching at his alma mater.
"There's been some real reliability, especially in the freshman class, and we had no idea that was going to take place. We're as surprised as probably anyone. They're a good group of guys, and they maintain a high agenda for themselves. It's not something I've had to hound them about, so that's been fun." — St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh.
"I don't know if you can stop them. You just have to try and limit their chances and do a good job defensively against them." — Clarkson coach George Roll, on the Dartmouth duo of David Jones and Nick Johnson.
"The [Cleary Cup] comes [last season], and Joe has his entire team come back on to the ice. I thought that was just a first class move. It was our first one, and I think the world of Joe. He's one of the finest coaches in college hockey and a good man. Joe will talk to you after a game win or lose. He's just as nice in that position as if he wins. There are very few who have the perspective that he has." — Gaudet, praising Joe Marsh and telling the story of the final night of last year's regular season, when Dartmouth clinched the Cleary Cup as regular season champions.
"Thank you, Bob. Very good. Your check's in the mail." — Marsh, after hearing Gaudet's kind words.
"I was really impressed with St. Lawrence the last game here. They just outworked and out-battled us. We have to do a better job on Friday to match their competitiveness." — Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold.
"I hope that there's a sense from our guys that it's important and that we represent something that's a lot bigger than us. There have been a lot of people who have worn the uniform. So we want to play with some pride." — Gaudet, putting this season into perspective with the history of Dartmouth hockey.
"We had a succession of about three power plays in a row, including a 5-on-3, and all we did was roll the puck around, step on it, and tip it. We looked like the Keystone Kops there." — Marsh, noting that there were some not-so-smooth moments in his St. Lawrence team's quarterfinal series sweep over Colgate.