With Clarkson coming off its first losing season since 1974-75, new head coach George Roll brings 14 recruits into a program desperate for new blood. Roll, an assistant during Clarkson’s dominating days in the early- and mid-1990s, may be the perfect choice to brush away the clouds of the last few years of Mark Morris’ tenure. Expect a definite charge of enthusiasm from the players, something that has been missing for years.
— New Golden Knights head coach George Roll
“It’s a new era now,” said Roll, “and one thing I’ve learned is that if you get everybody pulling in the same direction you can accomplish a lot, regardless of the talent level. I’ve never had a losing season in my career as a coach and I don’t expect that to be the case this year.”
The good news is that this group of players has been underachieving for a few seasons, so there is much room for growth. But just how much they’ve underachieved remains to be seen. Roll was hired, in large part, for the recruiting skills that brought the Knights much success in the past. Thus far, he’s up to his old tricks, with three NHL draft picks among his first class back in Potsdam.
Matt Nickerson, a 6-5, 235 pound defensemen who can play on the power play and take the body, will look to fill the skates of the departed Randy Jones. Fellow blueliner Michael Grenzy (6-4, 195) and power forward Mike Sullivan (6-3, 190) round out the NHL picks.
“Considering the time we had to work with,” explained Roll, “I am extremely happy with the players we are bringing in. They project to be a quality class who will push the returning players for playing time and provide depth.”
The offense has been inconsistent for years while the traditionally steady defense showed major holes last season. Add to that the departure of goaltender Matt Walsh and it could be quite the mess unless sophomore Dustin Traylen lives up to the hype generated around him last season.
In what has become a decade-long problem, the Knights again led the league in penalty minutes — a full three minutes more per game than the next closest team (Harvard). That’s a ton of time in the box.
The ongoing lack of discipline not only taxes the penalty killing units, it results in major momentum shifts throughout the game. It’s a mystery as to why discipline continues to be such a difficult issue, but the Knights will not return to past success until the selfish play stops.