December 20, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Karpowich A Rock For Transitioning Clarkson

by Timothy O'Donnell/CHN Reporter

Paul Karpowich has been the constant for Clarkson amid a season of change. (photo: Mike Tansey)

Paul Karpowich has been the constant for Clarkson amid a season of change. (photo: Mike Tansey)

During the 1961-1962 season, Clarkson's Wayne Gibbons set the program record for shutouts in a season with seven. From 1994-1998 Dan Murphy made a program record 3,375 saves.

By the end of this season, Paul Karpowich could hold both of those records.

Karpowich has five shutouts at the halfway mark of the season and is just 140 saves short of tying Murphy.

Karpowich is having his best season since arriving in Potsdam, N.Y., in 2008. He has played in all 20 games for the Golden Knights, leading the nation with 1210:24 of ice time. His .938 save percentage is second in the country and he is ninth in goals against average at 1.93.

And those five shutouts rank him second in the country behind only Minnesota’s Kent Patterson and only two away from tying Gibbons.

“To have five in the first half is great,” Karpowich said. “It’s not just for me, it’s for the team.

“Hopefully the team can get those two shutouts.”

Having a rock like Karpowich in net is important during this transition season for Clarkson. The Golden Knights have a new first-year head coach in Casey Jones, and with that kind of change comes a lot to get adjusted to. Clarkson seems to be going in the right direction, but there will still be plenty of bumps along the way.

“He brought a new outlook for Clarkson," Karpowich said of Jones. "He’s really been focusing on being a really good defensive team and taking care of our own end first.

“Anytime there’s been trouble, whether it be they’re running in our zone or I leave a bad rebound in front, everyone collapses to the front of the net to clear out the rebound or tie up guys in front. We’ve just been really solid defensively. Guys have been stepping front of a ton of shots.”

Even with the new defensive system, all of the goaltending duties have fallen on Karpowich. No other Golden Knight goalie has seen time in the crease this year.

“He’s clearly grabbed the No.1 spot on our team,” Jones said. “Until there’s competition at that position, until he falters, he’s going to play. And I don’t really foresee any change there in our future.”

And Karpowich is just fine with playing every game.

“It’s something I worked for over the summer. I want to be on the ice and play every game,” Karpowich said. “There’s nothing worse than sitting on the bench. It’s almost a helpless feeling knowing you can’t help your team out at all. I always want to be the guy that’s in net. Never take a night off.”

With Karpowich surrendering two or less goals in 12 of the Golden Knights 20 games, it’s easy to see why Jones has called on Karpowich every game.

And with three freshmen playing regularly on defense and with the most penalties in the ECAC, the Golden Knights sometimes need every save Karpowich can give them.

Karpowich’s success this season can be traced back to a change in his summer workouts.

“It involved a lot of running, a lot of strength, a lot of long distance running,” Karpowich said.

“It’s definitely paid off. I’ve started every game this year and haven’t really run into trouble in any of them. I haven’t been tired at all or shown any signs of fatigue. I definitely feel faster. ... I can get to places faster and then I’m ready and have more time to make the save.“

Part of his motivation over the summer was the saves record. Karpowich said he knew he was close to it at the end of last season and had a chance at breaking it.

Being a senior was another motivator over the summer, Karpowich said. And as a senior, Karpowich is looking to leave his mark on the program. Breaking some Golden Knight records would be a perfect way to do it.

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