Team of the Week: Clarkson
Tansey's Return Has Helped Lift Everyone
by Joshua Seguin/Staff Writer
Returning from an injury is one thing, but returning from an assault which cost a whole is season is another.
Kevin Tansey, now a sophomore with Clarkson, was victimized July 2012. The incident, which caused a shoulder injury, a concussion and three cracked ribs kept Tansey out the entirety of the 2012-13 season. It was a season that saw his team struggle to a 9-20-7 mark.
But his return has been instrumental in Clarkson's hot start, much to the surprise of most national pundits. And coming off another pair of wins last weekend, the Golden Knights are the CHN Team of the Week.
"It is great to get back on the ice," said Tansey, who took a medical redshirt and is sophomore eligible. "Last year it was painful to just watch all the games, but all that matters is we are doing well this year. I don't care if I'm playing or not if we are winning."
Clarkson captain Ben Sexton understands what Tansey, a rugged defenseman, means to the lineup.
"It was obviously an unfortunate event that happened to Kevin last year," Sexton said. "But we are excited to have him back. He is a big, mobile defenseman that plays hard every single night. He blocks shots and hes been pretty good on our power play. Missing a year of hockey has got to be tough and he had to get his feet wet early on. He has done an unbelivable job of adjusting for a guy that missed a full year."
Tansey's role is clear and important. He may not put up the flashy offensive numbers, but his role is to be a true, shtudown guy. The importance of this was lost on Clarkson's roster last season.
With his help, Clarkson has already matched last year's win total, off to a 9-2-1 start that has the town excited again. It includes a pair of wins over Colorado College, and its last five victories have all been by one goal.
"I think we are becoming more comfortable in the one goal games," Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. "We have been in a lot of close games and the guys have tons of confidence in them. We have had some success scoring timely goals."
Said Sexton, "It has been a huge step that we have made this season. We have grown a lot as a team, we have definitely matured and we are older. We are keeping it simple and guys have been coming up big at big times."
A lot of that is because of how the team has tightened up defensively, and Tansey is a big key to that. Because it was two years ago, many outside observers missed how important Tansey was to his team's success. During the 2011-12 campaign, the then-freshman played in all 39 games.
"He is a great hockey player," Jones said. "More importantly, though, he has the intangible qualities that elevates his peers. It makes our team better. You can't qualify all the intagible quailites some guys have, but he has all of them."
Last Friday at Dartmouth, Tansey's skill on the defensive side showed up in a big way. With his team leading 3-2 midway through the third period, Tansey made a brilliant defensive backcheck to break up a sure Dartmouth goal. What looked like a scary moment for Clarkson, showed the calm, cool collectiveness of a great defenseman. He made the play look easy.
"They tend to send some guys," said Tansey of Dartmouth. "We had to make sure all those guys were ahead of us because obviously we had the lead so we knew they going to try springing guys with odd man rushes. We had to be aware and that's all I did on that play."
When players battle back to get back into the lineup, teammates and coaches take notice. And his return has had an effect that's trickled down throughout the lineup.
"The team absolutely gets a lift from him (Tansey)," said Jones. "He is the ultimate warrior. He competes like a son of a gun. So he gives you 60 minutes of just laying it on the line. He is passionate, goes to practice every day and he makes guys better. With him you just know what to expect on a given day."
Sexton said, "He came back to the team after Christmas last year. It didn't go unnoticed on how hard he worked to get back into the peak shape he came back in this season."
Clarkson may have come from nowhere in the eyes of many but the talent, especially on the defensive side, was present on its roster to begin the season. With experience and a little edge, teams becomes very dangerous. Off to this start, with losses only to New Hampshire and Yale, Clarkson looks to build and continue improving game by game.
"Early on, we heard the media and coaches polls," said Sexton. "We didn't believe it internally because we believed in the guys that we have in that locker room. If we keep it simple and play good road games. It's a big thing we have done so far, just keep the game simple."