The 2010-11 NCAA campaign starts off in a big way for the Clarkson University Women's Hockey team as the Golden Knights host national powerhouse the University of Minnesota in a two-game series at Cheel Arena this weekend. The Knights and Gophers officially open their seasons on Friday with a 7:00 p.m. faceoff, followed by an afternoon encounter on Saturday beginning at 3:00 p.m.
Both Clarkson vs. Minnesota games will be streamed live on video by The B2 Networks and will have LiveStats. Saturday's game will be broadcast over the radio and internet by WQTK.FM 92.7. Go to Clarkson Hockey Broadcast Central for access to all these features.
Expectations are high for Clarkson. Coming off their most successful season in the seven-year history of the program, the Golden Knights will look to continue the momentum generated from the 2009-10 campaign when the Green and Gold established themselves among the elite in Division I.
Guided by the head coaching of Matt and Shannon Desrosiers, now in their third-year at the Clarkson helm, assistant coach Matt Kelly, and volunteer assistant Carlee Eusepi the Knights return 14 letterwinners from last year’s squad which posted a 23-12-5 overall record and a second-place 14-5-3 ECAC Hockey mark.
Clarkson narrowly missed out on the 2010 ECAC Championship Tournament title, falling in overtime to Cornell, and fell just one goal short of advancing to last year’s NCAA Frozen Four, as the Green and Gold lost at Minnesota, in another overtime heartbreaker, in the NCAA quarterfinals. Making its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, Clarkson put in a strong effort against the Gophers, but Minnesota was able to make the most of its home-ice advantage and pulled out a 3-2 overtime victory last March 13 in Minneapolis.
Looking to repeat and surpass last year’s achievements will be no easy task for Clarkson, which graduated a talented senior class last May. Despite the loss of the six talented veterans, including two of the program’s all-time leading scorers in Britney Selina and Genevieve Lavoie, and the Knights’ all-star defenseman Eusepi, the Knights are still a highly regarded team.
Clarkson is picked for a second-place conference finish in the ECAC Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll and is ranked seventh in the both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls.
Leading the Knights this season is senior captain Courtney Olson (Brunswick, GA), a solid defensive-defenseman the past three seasons. Along with the veterans, the coaching staff will be looking for the heralded freshman class, comprised of six forwards, one defenseman, and one goaltender, to make a major impact and help fill the void left by the Class of 2010.
A balanced effort by the Knights led Clarkson to a convincing victory in its first action of the season as the Green and Gold defeated the Bluewater Jr. Hawks 4-0 in an exhibition contest in Potsdam last Friday night. Eight different Knights recorded points, led by freshman Brittany Styner’s (Calgary, ALB) two goals, and all three Clarkson goaltenders chipped in for the shutout. Junior Gabrielle Kosziwka (Limehouse, ONT) and sophomore Danielle Skirrow (Trenton, ONT)also scored.
Minnesota was equally impressive in its exhibition opener this past Sunday, skating past Manitoba 8-0. The Gophers return 15 letterwinners from last year’s squad which posted a 26-9-5 overall record and tied for first in the WCHA with an 18-6-4 league mark.
Clarkson and Minnesota have played three times, all last season in Minneapolis, with the Gophers winning all three games by a combined score of 9-2.