Clarkson comes into this year’s Frozen Four as the defending national champion, ranked number one in the USCHO poll and, if it’s all possible for a team with that resume, flying a bit under-the-radar.
The Golden Knights were led by an incredible scoring duo in Loren Gabel and Elizabeth Giguere, who put up 143 points, but they were out-shined by Boston College’s dynamic duo of Daryl Watts and Caitrin Lonergan who put up 157. They traded the number one ranking back and forth with Wisconsin much of the year, but the western powerhouse Badgers draw considerably more media attention than the small school in upstate New York. They had an incredibly stingy defense, but that is almost taken for granted as a given at this point.
But whether they’re drawing the requisite hype or not, Clarkson is a really good team. And despite a near stumble in the quarterfinal round being taken to overtime by automatic qualifier Mercyhurst, it’s been a pretty smooth ride for the Golden Knights this year. Head coach Matt Desrosiers was hard-pressed to come up with any big turning points in their season, “We have been pretty fortunate to have a consistent season overall. Just making sure that we are taking care of things on a daily basis to ensure we are getting better each and every week and I think we have done that.”
In terms of style of play, Clarkson is perhaps the most physically strong team in the tournament, and plays incredibly tough defense. Even is a tight defensive league like the ECAC, where four teams allowed fewer than 2.00 goals per game, the Golden Knights where still nearly half-a-goal better than second place Colgate, posting a 1.21 goals against on the season. They rely heavily on their top line to carry the scoring load, but the lower lines are extremely difficult to play against.
Players to watch for the Golden Knights:
Loren Gabel, Junior, Forward: Gabel is a smaller forward, but plays bigger than her size. She’s got quick hands and an above average shot. Her ability to get heavy shots off in tight spaces helped her net 35 goals and 74 points this year.
Elizabeth Giguere, Freshman, Forward: Giguere is a tall power forward with exceptional hands. She was one of college hockey’s top playmakers this past season, setting up Gabel for a number of goals.
Shea Tiley, Senior, Goalie: A big goalie with good positioning. Tiley backstopped last year’s national champs, and has put up outstanding numbers once again, going 1.25/.942 on the year.