Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Scouting the enemy: Clarkson Golden Knights

No. 6/7 Quinnipiac opens conference play in the ECAC with a road trip to North Country. The Bobcats head to Clarkson on Friday night. Clarkson head coach, Casey Jones team is off to a 3-4-1 start this season but only 1-4 at the home confines of Cheel Arena. The Golden Knights are coming off a weekend where they dropped two home games to Big Ten teams Minnesota and Wisconsin respectively. Quinnipiac was off this past weekend and comes into the game with a 4-2-1 record.

Clarkson is a team that features a lot of international flavor with fifteen Canadian born players and five European born players. Only five players are from the United States. That is expected when the Clarkson campus is close to the border with Canada. Expectations are much higher in Potsdam this season as the Golden Knights are expected to contend to reach Lake Placid and a possible berth in the NCAA tournament.

Jordan Boucher (photo by Tansey Photography)
Offensively the Golden Knights have been able to score goals averaging 3.25 goals per game on the season. They are led by senior forward Jordan Boucher who is off to a hot start with six goals and two assists. Junior Sam Vigneault has a goal and six assists on the season. They are getting early production from talented freshman Devin Brosseau (one goal and six assists) and Sheldon Rempal (two goals and two assists). Both Brosseau and Rempal had huge years for the Nanaimo Clippers in the BCHL last year. Brosseau had 84 points (27 goals and 57 assists) while Rempal led the league in goals with 59 and finished with 110 points. Rempal is a small quick forward that finished his BCHL career with 213 points in 167 games played. They have one drafted forward in Troy Josephs (2013 7th round, Pittsburgh) who has a goal and two assists on the season. They have a solid mixture of smaller guys and some players over 6 feet tall. The Clarkson power play is in the  middle of the pack at 17.65% (9 of 51). The Quinnipiac defense really needs to avoid players like Boucher, Brosseau and Rempal from getting hot because these are good players who can do a lot of damage. Being physical against the smaller Rempal will be
Sheldan Rempal (photo by Nanaimo Clippers)
a key to getting him off his game and not letting him get any space. If Quinnipiac can play fast and smart on defense they should have the talent to win this game.

Defensively the Golden Knights are giving up 3.38 goals per game. At home that number jumps to 3.8 goals per game and if you take out the Merrimack shutout that number jumps to a whopping 4.75 goals per game at home. The opportunity is there for Quinnipiac to score on the Golden Knights especially with their home struggles. Of the eight defenders on the Clarkson roster not one of them checks in below six feet. Led by senior James de Haas (2012 6th round, Detroit) and junior Kelly Summers (2014 7th round, Ottawa) they have combined for 10 points already on the blue line. Two freshman defensemen have already seen a lot of minutes in Greg Moro and Jordan Schneider. Quinnipiac will need to use its speed up front and as Rand Pecknold puts it "hunt the puck". If they are able to be fast and aggressive and get good looks they should be able to put the puck in the net against the Golden Knights. Clarkson is a middle of the pack penalty killing team at 84.2% (48 out of 57) so Quinnipiac could have the chance to improve on its power play which has been a real struggle early in the season.

The Golden Knights start Jake Kielly in goal a 6'2 freshman out of Eden Praire, Minnesota. Kielly is off to an uneven start. In 8 games so far he has a 3-4-1 record with a 2.99 goals against with a .909 save percentage. He did however shutout Merrimack 4-0 on October 14. He came to Clarkson after a successful year with Tri-City in the USHL winning the Clark Cup as the league champions. He had an outstanding playoff in which he posted a 1.64 goals against with a .950 save percentage. Kielly is an athletic goaltender for someone 6'2 with the capability to make highlight reel saves like he in the playoff against the Fargo Force. It is a must that Quinnipiac creates traffic in front of the net to get re-directs and rebound opportunities against Kielly.

The Bobcats have had good success the last five seasons against Clarkson at Cheel Arena where they are 3-1-1 against the Golden Knights. Quinnipiac's last loss at Clarkson was a 2-1 defeat back in the 2014-15 season.

Jonathan Singer is a 2004 Quinnipiac alum. You can follow him on Twitter @jonathan_singer.

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