This Week in ECAC Hockey: Clarkson gets first-round bye, ‘gives us time to fine tune a bit’

Aaron Kesselman (Princeton - 11) and Brett Gervais (Clarkson - 19) collide at the blue line. (Shelley M. Szwast)
Brett Gervais and the rest of the Clarkson team have this weekend off, but will host a second-round ECAC Hockey playoff series next weekend (photo: Shelley M. Szwast).

For Clarkson, the first-round bye in the ECAC Hockey playoffs couldn’t come soon enough as the Golden Knights finished the regular season on a 1-5-2 skid.

This past weekend was the first time the No. 10 Golden Knights have been healthy in a month as the team has been battling sickness. It showed as they tied Princeton 3-3 on Friday night and then grabbed a 4-2 victory over Quinnipiac on Saturday night.

“It gives us time to fine tune a bit,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said of the bye. “We got a few things we want to dial in that we can get a lot better at. Obviously, getting healthy and getting rested, too, is a big part of that. We are looking forward to hosting a second-round series at home, that’s for sure.”

In the past month, the Golden Knights have been in most games as in the eight-game stretch, only two games were lost by two or more goals. They lost to Harvard 5-2 on Feb. 17 and lost 4-2 to Quinnipiac on Feb. 3. They rest of the losses were decided by one goal.

The Golden Knights were struggling to close out games and the victory against the Bobcats will help rebuild the confidence that the team had the first four months of the season.

“We have been giving up leads and from a confidence perspective, it was important to hold onto that lead on Saturday night,” Jones said. “We had a two-goal lead on Friday night. It’s one of those situations where it wears on you if you don’t close things out. It was nice to get the reward on Saturday.”

Jones said that a focal point for the playoffs is to make sure his team tightens up defensively.

The winless streak did provide Jones the chance to see some positives in the team, especially in his younger players.

“We were going through a tough time with some of the top guys getting (focused on by the opponent),” Jones said. “We have had some upperclassmen who have had good years, but I really started to see Jack Jacome evolve with scoring chances and make plays. He has been a key catalyst with his line. That freshmen line has been good for us.”

Jacome has six goals and 20 assists in 32 games. Fellow freshman Josh Dickson has 14 goals and 10 assists while Kevin Charyszyn has seven goals and seven assists in 32 games.

It’s the second straight year Jones has a freshmen line that has done well for the team as Nico Sturm, Sheldon Rempal and Devin Brosseau burst on the scene last season.

For Jones, he has been impressed with how this year’s freshmen line has performed.

“That’s one thing we were waiting for,” said Jones, on if the freshmen had hit a wall. “We were sitting here, sometimes you get cold towards the end of the year. Sometimes (freshmen) run out of gas. It’s hard to sustain it over a whole season. I am really impressed with the fact they came and really had a little bit of a surge in the second half – they really started to get in games.”

Jacome has 11 of his 26 points since Jan. 2. Jones said Jacome had an injury to start the year that he battled through the first half of the season.

Ted Donato a proud father

Harvard coach Ted Donato and his son Ryan Donato have returned from PyeongChang as Ryan was one of the breakout stars of the Winter Olympics, leading the Americans with five goals and an assist in five games.

“There’s certainly a vast amount of pride being able to see your son in the Olympic Games and in general be part of the U.S. Olympic team, not hockey necessarily in particular, but the overall team is such an honor,” Ted Donato said after the 6-4 loss to Brown on Friday. “It was nice I got a chance to go watch him play. Ryan played his heart out and he played well. I thought the team did as well, obviously losing in a shootout is tough. I can’t say enough how grateful we are as family for him to have that opportunity.”

Ryan jumped right back into the lineup this past weekend in the losses to Brown and Yale. He had a goal and an assist against the Bears, but went scoreless against the Bulldogs on Saturday.

“I am excited to be back,” Ryan Donato said after the loss to Brown. “It was a lot of fun (over) there, but now that’s over, my focus is on this team. They deserve it.”

Players of the Week

Sam Lafferty of Brown was named the conference’s player of the week with three goals and an assist on the weekend against Harvard. He currently leads the Bears with 19 points on eight goals and 11 assists.

Quin Foreman of Dartmouth was named rookie of the week as he also had three goals and an assist in the 6-4 victory over Yale on Friday night. The freshman is third on the Big Green in scoring with seven goals and 10 assists on the season.

Luke Kunia of Brown was named goaltender of the week as he made 41 saves in the 6-4 victory over Harvard on Friday night. The following night, he made 29 saves in a 3-0 victory over Dartmouth. The freshman is 4-10-4 on the season with a 2.64 GAA and a .914 save percentage.

Gottlieb named NCAA’s second star of the week

Brown’s Max Gottlieb was named’s second star of the week as he had five points on the weekend. He had three assists in the victory over Harvard on Friday while adding a goal and a helper in the win on Saturday against Dartmouth.

Alumni moved at the NHL trade deadline

The Nashville Predators acquired two ECAC alumni at the NHL trade deadline in former Union goalie Troy Grosenick and former St. Lawrence forward Brandon Bollig from the San Jose Sharks organization.

Both players have spent the year with the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL.

The New York Islanders acquired Colgate alum Chris Wagner from the Anaheim Ducks.

Kyle Baun, a fellow Colgate alum, went to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Montreal Canadiens, along with Tomas Plekanec.

Scrivens wins bronze with Canada

Former Cornell goaltender Ben Scrivens helped backstop the Canadians to a bronze medal in the Olympic Games as he appeared in four games with a 1-1 record, a 1.61 GAA and a .928 save percentage.

He was injured in Canada’s quarterfinal game against Finland

BoxCast to live stream the ECAC playoffs again

If you can’t make it to the rink the next few weeks, you can catch all the playoff action on BoxCast from the first round all the way to the ECAC championship game in Lake Placid.

You can order individual games on for $9.95 per game.