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Lake Placid arena holds special memories for ex-goalie Grant

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POTSDAM — Shawn Grant will be up near the rafters Saturday night as the Clarkson University men’s hockey team faces off against rival St. Lawrence University at 7:30 p.m. in a nonconference game at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid.

Grant, a Potsdam native, is a volunteer coach for the Golden Knights this season, primarily working with the team’s goaltenders Greg Lewis, Cody Rosen and Andrew Hunt.

But as he makes notes during the first and second period to share with Golden Knights head coach Casey Jones during intermissions, Grant will likely recall a special night in 1999 when he played the greatest game of his life on the same sheet of ice.

Grant was a freshman goalie for Clarkson on March 20, 1999, when he made 46 saves against the Saints in the ECAC championship game, helping Clarkson earn a 3-2 victory.

“We had a great team and we came on strong at the end of the year and went on a great winning streak and obviously there was no better team for us to beat in the finals,” Grant said.

When asked if he considered that to be his best career game Grant replied, “I would have to say so. It was not just the amount of saves, but key saves at great times and having a great team in front of me. It was a great day.”

And in Grant’s home is a worn out video cassette that he’s always happy to pop in whenever one of his friends asks him to show them the game.

“I’ve watched it quite a bit,” Grant said.

A knee injury forced Grant to have to end his Clarkson career in his junior season, but he’s kept active in hockey.

He’s had two previous stints working with Clarkson’s goalies and he was a full-time assistant at Division III Neumann College.

“It’s been a big relief off my shoulders,” Jones said of adding Grant to his staff. “Young guys don’t want to talk to me all the time and it’s an opportunity for them to have a goaltender who is in the position before for them to talk too. It’s afforded me more time for other aspects of our team. We are really excited to have Shawn on board. It’s a real big piece of the puzzle for us.”

Clarkson’s goalie for most of the season has been a freshman who wears No. 33, as Grant did, Greg Lewis.

“We work on rebound control a lot,” Lewis said. “That’s one of the big things I need to work on. (Grant) is another person telling you what you can do better. It helps.”

Grant works fulltime at Clarkson as a service center support representative. He spends two days a week during his lunch hour working with the goalies and attends weekend practices on home dates.

“Every goalie I’ve worked with here has always been appreciative and willing to learn and they ask questions and work hard,” Grant said.

After his Potsdam High School career ended, Grant spent time at Lake Placid’s Northwood Prep school before he arrived at Clarkson. The Herb Brooks Arena was his home rink at the time.

“It’s a very special place to me,” Grant said.

“My mom actually lives (in Lake Placid) now and I loved playing on the 80 rink and the atmosphere of Lake Placid.”

STARTING OVER

Clarkson barely had time to enjoy a 4-1 win over St. Lawrence University in an ECAC Hockey game at Appleton Arena on Wednesday night.

The Golden Knights did the same thing last season, beating SLU 5-3 in Appleton on a Tuesday, then lost 4-1 to the Saints four days later in a nonconference game in Lake Placid.

“We laid an egg there last year,” Jones said. “It’s important for us to finish off this first half well. We’ll refocus, look at what we have to do and get ready for a big tilt on Saturday.”

Said Clarkson defenseman Andrew Himelson, “You come off such a high from winning this game and you have to get back into practice and forget about it.

“We came out flat last year in the Lake Placid game and it cost us the game,” Himelson aeded. “We have to learn from that.”

Sportswriter Cap Carey covers Clarkson University hockey for the Times. He can be reached at ccarey@wdt.net

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