Knights’ Big Nights
Maybe it wasnâ€™t the greatest win in the six year history of Clarkson womenâ€™s hockey.
But last weekendâ€™s 3-2 triumph over Mercyhurst ranks as a close second.
Clarkson wrapped up a highly successful two game set with the Lakers, then ranked No. 2, with a tie and a win to show for their labors.
â€œIt was a huge weekend,â€ said senior co-captain Jess Cloutier. “Weâ€™d never beaten Mercyhurst before. It was the biggest win of my career, so far. Right up there with St. Lawrence.â€
To refresh your memory, it was two years ago that the Saints, then ranked No. 1 in the country, welcomed their rivals from 12 miles down the road into Appleton Arena, and absorbed a 2-0 blanking.
Thus was established the high-water mark of the Clarkson program, one that remained untouched. Until now, that is.
â€œWeâ€™re a young team,â€ said Cloutier, whose father Jacques was a longtime NHL goaltender and is now an assistant coach of the Colorado Avalanche. â€œWe have 10 freshmen, and at the beginning of the year, you donâ€™t know what youâ€™ve got. But theyâ€™ve just shown a lot of heart. We showed them (Mercyhurst) that we can play with anybody. We played hard, and made it simple.â€
Cloutier said that to hold off the Lakers, Clarkson kept matters as uncomplicated as possible.
â€œWe had the same plan, both games,â€ she said. â€œWe tried to keep it simple, and they didnâ€™t get a lot of shots. We had to play good defensively. They have a lot of good forwards, so we wanted to keep them to the outside. That was pretty much our plan for both games.â€
As a result, freshman goalie Eve Grandmont-Berube, who has assumed the No. 1 job, saw a manageable 31 shots in the first game, and just 23 more, the next day.
â€œSheâ€™s been great,â€ said Cloutier. â€œEve played great both games. Itâ€™s good to see a freshman stepping in like that and helping us win.â€
The Knights had little time to savor their accomplishment.
Dead ahead on the schedule are dates this weekend at No. 5 Harvard and No. 8 Dartmouth.
The fun is just beginning.
â€œWe can build on last weekend,â€ said Cloutier, â€œbut we canâ€™t slow down now. Weâ€™ve got to keep rolling. Show Harvard and Dartmouth what weâ€™ve got. Itâ€˜s going to be a great matchup.â€
Looking Beyond the Stats
Numbers can be very revealing. Or, as they pertain to Maine goalie Genevieve Turgeon, they can be deceiving.
At the moment, the Black Bears are on the business end of a 10 game losing streak and are 1-12-1 overall.
Turgeon was in net for Maineâ€™s lone win, in the season opener against Sacred Heart, but was also the goalie of record for eight of the losses.
Yet the junior from Lac Beauport, Que., has twirled a fine .918 save percentage, putting her among the Top 20 net minders in the Nation.
Then again, she has seen a whopping 403 shots in 10 games.
Only North Dakotaâ€™s Brittany Kirkham — with 458 shots against — has seen more rubber.
Some net minders get skittish about seeing a lot of pucks. Others, like Turgeon, thrive on all the action.
â€œI will say Iâ€™m one of those,â€ she said. â€œIt doesnâ€™t really matter. What really matters is the score on the board. I think our team is doing a good job of keeping the shots down. Iâ€™m getting the first shot, and theyâ€™re getting the rebounds. It really doesnâ€™t matter the number of shots. I just try and keep focused.â€
Keeping focused can be an ordeal, what with the losses mounting.
But even those have become more respectable.
Each of Maineâ€™s last six losses have been by two goals or fewer.
â€œWeâ€™re getting there,â€ Turgeon said. â€œYou can see it in the games, but you can also see it in the practices. Weâ€™ve been losing by just one goal. We have to keep playing well defensively, and try to capitalize on more chances. We need to work on that.â€
Nice Draw in New Hampshire
When new No. 1 New Hampshire made a clean sweep of formerly top-ranked Wisconsin in last weekendâ€™s two game set in Durham, they didnâ€™t do it in a vacuum.
The Wildcats drew back-to-back 1,000-plus crowds to the Whittemore Center for the first time in the buildingâ€™s 11-year history.
Saturdayâ€™s house numbered 1,196, while even more, 1,226, flocked to the â€œWhitâ€ on Sunday, filling the room with a high level of energy.
â€œThey were pretty vocal,â€ said Doug Poole, New Hampshireâ€™s SID for womenâ€™s hockey. â€œMore so in the second game. But it was pretty loud throughout.â€
The largest crowd for a UNH womenâ€™s regular season game is 1,878, set back on Nov. 20, 1999 against Harvard, during the heyday of what was then a fierce rivalry between the schools.
New Hampshire has seen crowds in excess of 2,000 during the two NCAA Frozen Fours it has hosted.
By the way, Poole, who has been the programâ€™s media contact for a decade, has become one of the nationâ€™s leading advocates for womenâ€™s hockey, and is one of its leading authorities.