One of the great things about sports is the surprise factor and the ability for teams to overachieve. The season is still early, but Clarkson's hockey program is certainly outperforming expectations to this point.
The Golden Knights, picked 12th in both the preseason ECAC coaches and media polls, sit at 6-1-1. Casey Jones, now in his third year behind the bench in Potsdam, has instilled some of the defensive philosophies he learned from his years assisting Mike Schafer at Cornell.
Clarkson is averaging 1.5 goals against per game after holding Colorado College to just one goal on the weekend. After downing the Tigers 2-1 Friday night, Clarkson scored a goal with nine seconds to play in overtime to break a scoreless tie, and finish off the sweep.
Senior Allan McPherson and junior Joe Zarbo have the team lead in goals with three while Boston Bruins prospect Ben Sexton has a goal and six assists.
The bigger story is the vast improvement of the goaltending position. Clarkson goaltenders combined for a .893 save percentage a season ago. Through eight games this year, that number stands a .939. Sophomore Greg Lewis and freshman Steve Perry have split the goaltending duties. Lewis has improved his numbers greatly, but Perry has come in and made a splash. The freshman from Ligonier, Pa. has a 3-0-1 record, a 1.20 goals against average, a .948 save percentage and two shutouts.
ECAC play begins for the Golden Knights this weekend as they travel to take on Brown and Yale, which will be no easy task. Brown won the Liberty Hockey Invitational by downing Yale and Dartmouth this past weekend. Yale, the defending NCAA Champions, still have a good amount of talent.
Who knows if Clarkson can maintain this level of success, but it sure is a great early season story for a historically strong program that has seen its share of misery in recent years.
Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.