POTSDAM The Clarkson University mens hockey team faces what has traditionally been its toughest road trip of the season this weekend.
The Golden Knights (2-5-5 overall, 2-1-1 ECAC Hockey) play at Cornells Lynah Rink at 7 tonight and play at Colgate at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Clarkson has gone 1-3-1 at Lynah Rink the past five years and the Golden Knights are 0-3-2 at Colgate in the same span.
The road trip has also led to stumbles in subsequent games. Last year, Clarkson went 1-4-1 in the six games after this trip and two years ago it went 3-6 after the trip. The year before that the Golden Knights went 4-6-1 after this trip and four years ago Clarkson went 1-5 after the visit to central New York.
We look at every weekend the same, Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. The ECAC games are tough and its always tough on the road.
Both opponents are actually behind Clarkson the standings, when going by win percentage. Cornell (4-3-2 overall) is 1-3-2 in conference play and Colgate (6-6-2) is 2-3-1.
But the Big Red is coming off a 5-1 win over Michigan last weekend in Madison Square Garden in a nationally televised game.
Obviously (Cornell) looks like theyve righted the ship, said Jones, who was an assistant with the Big Red two years ago.
The visit to Cornells Lynah Rink is one that gets the attention of Clarksons players because it features what may be the most passionate fans in the conference. Cornells fans actually research players for taunts, and will mention a mother by name, or a sister. In a playoff series six years ago, Cornells fans blew up a photo of several Clarkson players sitting in a hot tub at a party and held it up in their sight as they came out of the locker room onto the ice.
Ive heard a lot about Cornells rink, freshman forward Pat Megannety said. Its a fun place to play. It gets pretty rowdy, so that should be a good experience. Its a new experience for all the freshmen and it should be pretty fun.
The Golden Knight who will get the most abuse from Cornells fans is freshman goalie Greg Lewis.
I heard its a good atmosphere and its loud there, Lewis said. Thats all I really now. Ive never been there before. (Taunting) drives me to play a little better, to be honest. Its just part of the game when you play at other teams rinks.
Jones, who played at Cornell, knows the taunting well. When he returned with Clarkson as a young assistant coach in the early 90s the fans were calling him a traitor.
I just know its going to be hard fought, Jones said of the game. (Cornell) hasnt started where they wanted to be in league play, but the Michigan game was a big step. They are hungry to get things going. They are a good team and they are deep. Colgate is explosive and can skate.
The top forward from Joness first full recruiting class has been Megannety, a native of Oakville, Ontario.
Megannety, who played for the Georgetown Raiders last year, ranks fourth on the team in scoring with five goals and two assists. His five goals rank second to Jarrett Burton, who has six. Megannety has also excelled on special teams, with two power-play goals and a shorthanded goal last weekend against Rochester Institute of Technology.
I worked hard in the summer, Megannety said. Ive had a lot of help with my linemates (Allan McPherson and Ben Sexton for most of the year). They are older guys which makes the transition easier. You just have to take it game by game.
Megannety was a big scorer last year as well, tallying 26 goals and 20 assists in 41 junior games.
FULL TRAINERS ROOM
Clarkson did not have enough healthy players to scratch anyone from last weekends lineup and actually played RIT with only 17 skaters, instead of the usual 18.
But the Golden Knights are healing and only had three players Sexton, Adam Pawlick and Mike Garlasco sitting out of practice this week.
We are bringing some guys off the injury list and that will afford us a little bit of depth in the lineup, Jones said. Its getting better. Some guys probably could have gone (last) Friday, but being nonleague play, we wanted to make sure we didnt get guys nicked up. Were trying to make sure we make precautionary decisions heading into ECAC play. Well have a few bodies back, but injuries are part of the equation.
KNIGHTS OF ROCHESTER?
Last Fridays 3-3 tie against RIT was in Rochester, but a look at the stands made it hard to tell it was not a neutral site or even a Clarkson home game.
It was awesome, Megannety said. We had a whole section behind our bench, pretty much full of Clarkson alumni. That support is huge. Any time you get that, its big.
Said defenseman James Howden, They were louder than the other fans. It was like a home game rather than a neutral site.
Sportswriter Cap Carey covers Clarkson University hockey for the Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org