Clarkson Returns to Glory
by Brett Gobe/CHN Reporter
ALBANY, N.Y. When Clarkson last played in the ECAC championship, in 2004, the Knights jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead. The Knights then surrendered four unanswered goals and lost to the Harvard Crimson. In a weekend where history seems to be repeating itself, the Knights found themselves in a similar position. However this time they were looking up from the two-goal deficit with 20 minutes left on the clock.
"I thought this game felt the same was as the Harvard game," said Roll. "It's very similar sometimes when you're in the other seat. You feel like if you can get one goal it will change the mood of your team. When we played Harvard you could see how their team responded, and tonight you could see when we got that first one, the entire mood of our team changed."
The first Clarkson goal was scored by ECAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Chris D'Alvise. D'Alvise, who was visibly frustrated headed to the locker room after the second period, came out with perhaps his strongest period of the year, leading the Clarkson comeback almost single handedly.
"We went into the locker room and the leadership of this team told us, 'We know we can do this. We know we can win," said D'Alvise of the second intermission "no coaches" meeting. "We let them dictate the pace of the game and we were frustrated. In the locker room the captains told us to go have fun, and that's when we're at our best. And in that third period we had alot of fun."
D'Alvise broke the ice with a goal just 1:43 into the third period and Clarkson started to figure out how to solve the Quinnipiac forecheck which had given the fits all night.
"No question we were squeezing the sticks," said Roll. "We weren't patient around the net and I don't know if it was just being tight from playing in a championship game or what. I wasn't happy with our play in the period and wanted to tell them a few things about our play around the net, but Nick Dodge told me, 'Coach, unless you have anything relating to Xs and Os, we'll handle it.'"
Dodge's initiative provided the spark that sealed the game for the Golden Knights.
After being outshot in the first two periods, 18-15, the Knights blasted 15 shots on Quinnipiac goaltender Bud Fisher in the third. The game-tying goal was scored by defenseman Phil Paquet, another surprise goal scorer for the weekend for Clarkson.
"Zalewski was going for a wraparound and I was starting to curl back to my position," said Paquet on the pass from Steve Zalewski. "I don't know if he saw me or what but the puck ended up on my stick and I put it in. Kind of a lucky goal."
The lucky goal sent the sophomore defenseman racing towards the Clarkson fans and had him climbing the glass.
"I don't know why I did that," Pacquet said. "I saw Shawn (Weller) coming and I didn't want to get tackled, to tell the truth I kind of blacked out after the goal."
Fifty seconds later, Clarkson took the lead thanks to another surprise goal scorer, Brodie Rutherglen. Rutherglen netted the gamewinner on a set up from D'Alvise.
"D'Alvise was awesome all weekend," said Roll, visibly elated. "Chris was the difference tonight. He doesn't get some of the credit the other forwards do. For being a sophomore and weighing about 150 pounds, he's pretty good."
For Roll and Clarkson, it's a culmination of a resurgence in the program. One of the all-time winningest programs in college hockey history, and a perennial 20-win and NCAA team in the '90s, the Golden Knights fell on hard times and long-time coach Mark Morris was fired.
Roll came in and had to rebuild the program's reputation. After three up-and-down years, the Golden Knights head to the NCAAs as a No. 1 seed.
"We do feel good about it. (Assistants) Greg (Drechsel) and J.F. (Houle), I can't say enough about the job they've done recruiting and the effort they put in," Roll said. "Yeah, it does feel good, especially from two years ago when we had a down year, and you could feel it last year — we didn't have a great year, but you could feel the momentum turning around.
"I know our alums, at times, want it quickly, and Clarkson's been so accustomed to winning, those first two years, it was hard. But we were going to stay the course and we knew it was only a matter of time before things changed, and we felt this was the year it was going to happen. And you never know, but we did feel pretty good coming into this season."
Now Clarkson will get a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.