2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Clarkson Golden Knights

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Matt Desrosiers (8th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Shannon MacAulay (C), Erin Ambrose (A), Renata Fast (A), Olivia Howe (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 24-11-3 (16-4-2 ECAC/T-1st place)
ECAC Postseason: Conference semifinals; advanced to ECAC semifinals with quarterfinal series win vs. Dartmouth, eliminated by Cornell in semifinals
NCAA Tournament: Eliminated by Boston College in NCAA quarterfinals

The first game of the 2014-15 season certainly made for an interesting start to the year as the defending national champions fell to ECAC rival St. Lawrence by a score of 5-3. The Golden Knights returned the favor in their home opener the next day, defeating the Saints, 2-1. A sweep over Providence followed suit, before Clarkson dropped a pair of games to Boston University at home. After a 3-3-0 start to the season, a 9-0 win over Syracuse on Oct. 24 sparked a seven-game unbeaten streak for the Golden Knights. They earned another win over St. Lawrence during that stretch, as well as a tie against Harvard.

They dropped a 1-0 decision to Quinnipiac next but headed into the Nutmeg Classic coming off of a win over Princeton. Clarkson escaped the Nutmeg semifinal game with a 2-1 overtime victory over UConn, but again fell to Quinnipiac in the championship game. They had a hard time handling Cornell’s offense the next weekend and found themselves on the wrong end of an 8-3 rout before defeating Colgate to close out their December slate.

Clarkson opened January with another win over the Raiders, and fared much better the second time against the Big Red, skating to a 1-1 tie with them. After picking up wins against Union and RPI, the team closed out its non-conference schedule with a series against Wisconsin but could not muster a win against the Badgers, tying them, 1-1, before falling, 4-0, in game two. An upset loss to Yale put the Golden Knights on a three-game winless skid, but they ended the season in better form, going 7-1-0 in their last eight games of the regular season. That lone loss came against the Bobcats again, but the team did secure wins over Harvard, St. Lawrence, and Princeton over that stretch.

In the ECAC Tournament, Clarkson started things off with a sweep over Dartmouth in the quarterfinals, defeating the Big Green 6-0 and 4-1. In their semifinal game against Cornell, their tournament was ended as they fell to the Big Red, 3-1. In the NCAA quarterfinals, their quest for a repeat championship was halted by Boston College, who skated away with the 5-1 victory.

Even with the loss of several key players from the season before, the Golden Knights still had lots of standout individual performances in 2014-15. Freshman Shea Tiley was named both the ECAC Goaltender of the Year and Rookie of the Year after a fantastic first campaign. Junior defender Renata Fast and classmate and forward Cayley Mercer were both named to the All-ECAC First Team along with Tiley, and fellow juniors Shannon MacAulay and Erin Ambrose collected All-ECAC Third Team honors. Along with Tiley, defenseman Savannah Harmon was selected to the ECAC All-Rookie Team, while head coach Matt Desrosiers was honored as the league’s Coach of the Year.

Meet the Newcomers

D Emma Keenan, Okanagan Hockey Academy

Keenan was an assistant captain at Okanagan (British Columbia), and was also a member of Team Alberta, winning a bronze medal at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Coach Desrosiers on Keenan (via ClarksonAthletics.com):

“Emma is extremely hard working both on and off the ice.  She comes from a very athletic family and takes a lot of pride in her conditioning and working towards becoming a better player and athlete.  She is a solid and steady defenseman that has the ability to add to the offense off the rush and from the blueline.  Emma was coached this past year by a former NCAA coach so I fully expect her to be well prepared to step in and adapt quickly to the college game.  We are looking forward to working with Emma over the next four years.”

D Josiane Pozzebon, Canadian Under-18 Team, Nepean Jr. Wildcats

Pozzebon played for several U18 national and provincial teams, winning a silver medal with Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championships. She also participated in Canada’s Strength and Conditioning Camp this past spring, and attended the National Women’s Development Team Camp in August. Pozzebon was an assistant captain with Team Ontario at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, which took home silver, and helped Team Ontario Blue to a runner-up finish at the 2013 Canadian Women’s National Under-18 Championships.

Coach Desrosiers on Pozzebon (via ClarksonAthletics.com):

“Josiane is going to be a great addition to our blueline and program.  She is a tremendous competitor who works extremely hard every shift and isn’t afraid to play strong and gritty down low in the corners.  Josiane has the ability to add to the offense as she makes great first passes on breakouts and will also look to jump up into the play off the rush.  The experience she has had at the International level with Hockey Canada will help her make the transition to the college game seamless.”

F Loren Gabel, Oakville Jr. Hornets

Gabel also won silver with Team Ontario at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, and attended Canada’s Under-18 Strength and Conditioning Camp in 2013 and 2014 as well as the selection camp for the Under-18 Team in 2014.

Coach Desrosiers on Gabel (via ClarksonAthletics.com):

“Loren has always been a very solid contributor throughout her years in the PWHL but she really came into her own this past season.  She worked hard to focus on improving certain areas of her game and it really paid off for her. Loren has a tremendous skill-set as she skates very well, has a great set of hands, and can really shoot a puck.  If she continues to work hard both on and off the ice she will most certainly be an exciting player to watch over her career at Clarkson.”

F Kelly Mariani, Mississauga Jr. Chiefs

Mariani was in the player pool for Canada’s U18 program but missed making a final roster. She attended the selection camps in both 2013 and 2014, as well as the Strength and Conditioning Camp in both of those seasons as well. She was a member of the silver-medal-winning Team Ontario at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, and helped Team Ontario Red to a gold medal at the 2013 Canadian National U18 Championships.

Coach Desrosiers on Mariani (via ClarksonAthletics.com):

“Kelly is an extremely smart player that does a great job at making her linemates better.  She is very good and smart with the puck and has the ability to make plays all over the ice.  Kelly is the type of player that you can put into any number of situations and she will excel at them.  She has played at a high level since a young age which has allowed her to gain valuable experience and will bode well in her transition to college hockey.”

F Rhyen McGill, Canadian Under-18 Team, Whitby Jr. Wolves

A silver medalist with Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championships, McGill captained the Jr. Wolves in 2014-15. She won silver with Team Ontario Blue at the 2013 Canadian National U18 Championships, and earned a runner-up finish again with Team Ontario at the 2015 Canada Winter Games. McGill was also invited to attended Hockey Canada’s Strength and Conditioning Camp in the spring.

Coach Desrosiers on McGill (via ClarksonAthletics.com):

“Rhyen is a very talented player that possesses some elite level skills.  She is a very quick, strong, and powerful skater which helps her create a lot of scoring chances for herself and her teammates.  She has a knack for finding the back of the net and has the ability to score some highlight-reel goals.  The experience Rhyen has gained at the International level with Hockey Canada will be extremely valuable to her progression as a player and we look forward to having her as part of our program here at Clarkson.”

F Cassidy Vinkle, Whitby Jr. Wolves

Vinkle just missed the cut for Canada’s Under-18 roster, attending both the selection camp and the final selection camp before the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championships. She was an assistant captain for the Jr. Wolves last season and captured a silver medal with Team Ontario at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Coach Desrosiers on Vinkle (via ClarksonAthletics.com):

2015-16 Season Preview

Key Departures: F Christine Lambert, D Daniella Matteucci, D Jennifer Shields
Key Returners: F Shannon MacAulay, F Cayley Mercer, F Geneviève Bannon, F Olivia Howe, F Brielle Bellerive, D Erin Ambrose, D Renata Fast, D Savannah Harmon, G Shea Tiley
Key Additions: F Rhyen McGill, F Cassidy Vinkle, F Loren Gabel, F Kelly Mariani, D Josiane Pozzebon

It wasn’t going to be easy for the Golden Knights to defend their national title last season, as the team was dealing with significant losses at all three positions, including Patty Kazmaier Award winner Jamie Lee Rattray as well as starting goaltender Erica Howe. But the team dealt with those hits about as well as anyone could expect of them, and they went on to share the ECAC regular season crown with Harvard. With the emergence of several key players last year and no departures this year to write home about, Clarkson should be well-stocked to compete again this year.

The play of goaltender Shea Tiley as a freshman was a big reason why the Golden Knights were able to stay afloat and capture first place in the league again. It was an almost seamless transition from the Erica Howe era thanks to Tiley; she immediately stepped in and posted a .939 save percentage, 1.40 goals-against average, nine shutouts, and 24-11-3 record. Clarkson’s defensive play in front of her was likely a big help, but she was still tested and had to be reliable in close games. The same will be expected of her this season, but she showed a ton of promise as a rookie and the Golden Knights have already gotten great return on it.

As mentioned, the defensive corps in front of her does a good job of managing the game. They’ve got several players from national team pools leading the way there, namely Erin Ambrose and Renata Fast. Ambrose had some ups and downs last year after coming off of an injury, but she was a 50-point defender in 2013-14. Fast, a fellow senior, raised her own game quite a bit last season to shoulder more of the responsibilities, and sophomore Savannah Harmon had an excellent rookie campaign with seven goals and 21 points. Daniella Matteucci and Jennifer Shields both played more stay-at-home roles, but they were relied on a lot defensively, so the Golden Knights will have some holes to fill there. Rookie Josiane Pozzebon should make an immediate impact, and junior Corie Jacobson is a bit more under-the-radar but the Golden Knights will hope to see her contribute a bit more.

Clarkson graduates just one forward from last season, and although Christine Lambert was certainly an important player for the team, they’ll have all of their primary offensive pieces returning. Cayley Mercer, Shannon MacAulay, Geneviève Bannon, and Olivia Howe are the team’s go-to scorers; all four did a great job stepping up last season into bigger scoring roles last season, so they should be well-prepped for more of the same this year. This could be a big season in particular for Bannon, who certainly has the potential to take an even bigger step forward from her 32-point pace last year. Brielle Bellerive and Amanda Titus both had solid freshman campaigns in 2014-15, and they should be able to chip in even more this season. The Golden Knights incoming class of forwards isn’t short on talent, either. Rhyen McGill should slot into a secondary scoring role right away and we’ll likely see flashes to start from Cassidy Vinkle, Loren Gabel, and Kelly Mariani.

Overall, this Clarkson team will be a strong contender both in the ECAC and on a national level. They’ve got a well-rounded offense with plenty of scoring depth, though they’re still missing a top-level game-changing player like what they had in Rattray. That shouldn’t matter so much if they can count on several people for production, and it looks like they can with Mercer, MacAulay, Bannon, and Howe. They’re losing a bit more depth on the back end, but they’ll still be icing a skilled defensive corps and they certainly have the pieces in place to make up for their losses. Tiley is the last and most important piece of the puzzle; if she continues to build off of her rookie season the Golden Knights won’t have much to worry about in terms of giving up goals. Clarkson looks set at every position with a significant amount of depth and high-end players looking to make an impact, and should be able to assert themselves as a top team nationally.

Schedule Highlights

Oct. 2 vs. St. Lawrence
Oct. 3 at St. Lawrence
Oct. 9 at Vermont
Oct. 10 vs. Vermont
Oct. 16-17 at Boston University
Oct. 30 at Harvard
Nov. 10 vs. Syracuse
Nov. 20 vs. Quinnipiac
Nov. 21 vs. Princeton
Dec. 5 vs. Cornell
Jan. 16 vs. Harvard
Jan. 22 at Cornell
Jan. 28 at St. Lawrence
Jan. 30 vs. St. Lawrence
Feb. 13 at Quinnipiac
Feb. 20 vs. Yale

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