One of the more exciting season-opening home stands in the 96-year history of Clarkson University Hockey takes place at Cheel Arena this weekend as the Golden Knights officially open the 2017-18 campaign by hosting a pair of high-profile Big 10 programs. The Golden Knights, guided by seventh-year head coach Casey Jones and assistant Phil Roy '00 and Josh Hauge, will battle Penn State on Friday and the University of Michigan on Saturday. Face off both nights is 7:00 p.m.
Eighteen lettermen return from last year's team that skated to 18 wins and came within one goal of advancing to the ECAC Hockey Championship Tournament in Lake Placid. Senior captain Nic Pierog along with assistant captains, senior Brett Gervais and sophomore Devin Brosseau will lead a Clarkson squad that will be striving to break through to a top-four finish in the league standings after near misses over the past several years. The coaching staff has brought in another talented recruiting class, which looks to contribute significantly. The nine freshmen, consisting of five forwards, two defensemen and a pair of goaltenders, will enhance the roster and help Clarkson make up for the loss of 58 goals and 143 points, and two goaltenders through graduation.
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- Clarkson and Penn State have met just once with the Nittany Lions skating to a 5-1 victory in the consolation game of the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburg, PA on December 29, 2015. Senior defenseman Terrance Amorosa is the only current Knight to have recorded a point against Penn State, with one assist.
- Two traditional powers in NCAA Hockey, Clarkson and Michigan have only played each other four times with the Wolverines holding a 3-1 advantage. The series first started on November 28, 1959 with Michigan earning a 6-3 victory at Clarkson Arena. The Wolverines won again in Potsdam, earning an 8-0 shutout on November 27, 1959. The Knights' lone win was a 5-4 triumph in the 1962 NCAA semifinals, 5-4 on March 15 in Utica. In their last meeting on March 29, 2008, Michigan edged the Green and Gold 2-0 in the NCAA East Regional held in Albany.
- • Friday's game will mark the third straight season, but only the fourth time in the past 19 years that the Knights have opened the season in Potsdam. Clarkson is 15-9-2 in its previous 26 home openers at Cheel. Since the 2000-2001 campaign, the Knights are 6-10-1 in official season openers, and are 3-2-1 with Casey Jones as head coach. Last season, Clarkson fell to Vermont 5-2 on October 7.
- Clarkson is looking for its first win against a Big 10 opponent having gone 0-4 since the league was formed in 2013-14. The Knights lost two close games last season to Big 10 foes, falling to Minnesota (4-3ot) and Wisconsin (5-4).
- Captain Nic Pierog is the first Golden Knights to wear the #6 jersey since the late Mike Morrison '89 wore it in his senior campaign of 1998-89.
- Clarkson played to a 3-3 tie with Guelph in exhibition action this past Saturday at Cheel. The Knights picked up goals from three different players and received a 22-save effort from a pair of goaltenders.
- The Knights' sophomore class, coming off a standout year last season, made a big impression against Guelph as Devin Brosseau and Sheldon Rempal scored goals and Jake Kielly made 10 saves.
- The Knights dressed 24 of the 27 players on the roster, including all nine freshmen in Saturday's exhibition contest.
- Freshman Josh Dickinson scored the Knights' second goal and classmate Nicholas Latinovich made 12 saves on 14 shots, playing the final 31 minutes in the Clarkson crease.
- The Knights will jump right into the fire with seven of their first eight games against teams that competed in last year's NCAA Tournament.
- Clarkson is receiving votes in both national preseason polls, and is picked to finish fourth in the ECAC this year by the league coaches.
- In its 96th season, Clarkson boasts 72 winning campaigns and a 1,413-851-154 all-time record for a .616 winning % since 1920-21.
Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions, guided by former Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky has emerged as a top program in the NCAA in only its sixth year of existence. Penn State made its first NCAA tournament last year and defeated Union 10-3 in its first tournament game before falling to eventual National Champion Denver, 6-3. The Nittany Lions also won the Big Ten tournament and were briefly ranked No. 1 in the nation. Penn State went 25-12-2 overall and 10-9-1 in the Big 10. The Nittany Lions dropped an exhibition game on Sunday, losing to Ottawa 4-3 in overtime.
A nine-time winner of the NCAA National Title, Michigan embarks on a new era this season after legendary coach Red Berenson retired after 32 years guiding the Wolverines. Mel Pearson takes the reigns and will look to lead Michigan back into the national spotlight after a 13-19-3 season, including a 6-12-2 Big 10 mark in 2016-17. The Wolverines blew by Western Ontario 10-1 in exhibition play on Saturday. Michigan officially opens the season at St. Lawrence on Friday.