Off to its first 2-0 start since the 2006-07 season, Clarkson will be challenged this weekend as it heads to the University of Minnesota to take part in the Ice Breaker Tournament.
The Golden Knights will open with a 5 p.m. game Friday against the University of New Hampshire, which went 20-12-7 last year and is No. 13 in the USCHO preseason poll. On Saturday Clarkson will face either No. 5 Minnesota, which went 26-9-5 last year, or Mercyhurst, which went 19-17-5 last year and is led by former SUNY Canton coach Rick Gotkin.
Clarkson started on the road last weekend with a pair of games at No. 20 Niagara and came away with 2-1 and 2-0 wins. The Golden Knights did not win their second game last year until the 11th game of the season.
Coach Casey Jones
The game-winning goal in the season opener came from senior Jarrett Burton, who missed all of the practices during the week after the death of his grandmother. Burton scored the winning goal with 14 minutes, 17 seconds remaining. Last year Clarkson was only 3-15-4 when it did not score the first goal of a game and the Golden Knights were just 1-1-5 when tied after two periods a year ago.
Burton's game-winner was set up by a shot from defenseman Kevin Tansey, a sophomore who missed all of last season while recovering from an assault which happened in the summer of 2012. Tansey returned to Clarkson at the start of the second half last season and was part of practices, but he took precautions to avoid much physical contact last season.
Sunday's game marked the college debut of freshman goalie Steve Perry, who became the first Clarkson goalie to record a shutout in his career opener since Jason Poirier shut out RIT on Oct. 25, 1986. Perry finished with 30 saves, including 12 which came during Niagara power plays. Last year's starting goalie, Greg Lewis, stopped 19 of 20 shots in the season opener. Perry and Lewis are both from the Pittsburgh area and have known and competed against each other throughout their childhood. They also share a goalie coach.
A Look at New Hampshire
The Wildcats will have one edge on Clarkson in Friday's game. Minnesota's Mariucci Arena features an international-size ice sheet, which is similar to the surface the Wildcats skate on in their own Whittemore Center.
UNH was picked to finish third in Hockey East by the conference's coaches. The Wildcats finished fifth last year in the conference and made it to the NCAA Quarterfinal before losing 2-0 to UMass-Lowell.
The team captain is defenseman Eric Knodel (10 goals-11 assists) and the returning leading scorers include: Kevin Goumas (10-32), Grayson Downing (15-16) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (8-25). UNH also returns junior goalie Casey Desmith (19-10-7, 2.23 goals-against average, .924 save percentage).
Clarkson will be UNH's official opener, though the Wildcats did defeat Acadia 6-3 in an exhibition game last Saturday,
The Golden Knights have not faced UNH since Dec. 3, 2004, when the Wildcats won 3-1 in Durham, N.H.
(video from UNH Athletics)
The Golden Gophers were one of the top teams in the nation last year, but fell to eventual national champion Yale 3-2 in overtime in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota averaged 3.48 goals and allowed just 2.00. The Golden Gophers scored on 24.6 percent of their power plays a year ago and were 19-1-4 when they struck first in a game.
The Golden Gophers have not played an official game, but did defeat Lethbridge 5-1 in an exhibition game on Saturday.
(video from Minnesota Athletics)
Mercyhurst reached the Atlantic Hockey championship game last year but lost 7-2 to Canisius. The Lakers played at Clarkson last Dec. 15 and won 3-1. Mercyhurst opened the season on Tuesday with a home exhibition game against Guelph, but lost 4-3.