POTSDAM Four players will take part in their last regular-season games at Cheel Arena this weekend as the Clarkson University mens hockey team hosts Dartmouth and Harvard.
After Saturdays game against the Crimson, seniors Andrew Himelson, Nik Pokulok, Adam Pawlick and Cody Rosen will be honored.
They all stayed over the course of the summer and made a complete commitment to what were trying to accomplish here for a culture that were trying to embody, Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. Theyve been really good with our younger guys. They are part of my leadership group that we talk about all the time. They are tremendous representatives of the campus in the community.
Each of this years seniors has watched three other classes go through this weekend in the past.
I dont think its sunk in yet, Himelson said. It will all sink in when the seasons over, and you finally think about it.
Said Pawlick, It seems like just the other day I was starting my freshman year. I dont really want to think about it too much, its sad. Hopefully its not our last home weekend.
Each player, with the exception of Pokulok who had a medical appointment and missed practice Wednesday, spoke of how attending Clarkson changed them as players and people.
From when I first got here to now Ive just matured as a player and a person, Rosen said. You learn good work habits. Its affected my life pretty big. Clarkson is a good university and a great school.
Said Pawlick, I would like to think I became a more well-rounded player, playing center the last two years. I think I picked up more defensive responsibility playing on the penalty kill.
Each member of the senior class plans on pursuing a professional hockey career, but each also has plans for life after hockey as well.
(School) has been eye-opening, Pawlick said. I thought I knew what I wanted to do after school, but now there are so many opportunities out there. Clarkson gives you such a good education where you can jump into a bunch of fields with the degree you get here. Originally, I wanted to own my own business, now Im not sure.
Said Rosen, Im pretty excited about the opportunity that Clarkson gives and Im going to try to take full advantage of it.
While each senior has played a key role on the ice, Jones has grown to admire each player as a person in the two years hes worked with the quartet.
I think they are leaving here as good people and they will take good advantage of the Clarkson opportunity to set themselves up, Jones said. I think youre going to see some very successful people in this class going forward.
BIG WEEKEND AWAITS
With just four games left in the ECAC Hockey season, Clarkson (8-15-7 overall, 7-8-3 conference) still can finish as high as second place and as low as last place.
The Golden Knights are tied for seventh with Princeton entering tonight, and the top eight teams are guaranteed a home playoff series.
But Clarkson is only three points behind St. Lawrence University and Union, which are tied for third. The top four teams earn a first-round bye.
Last year we went into the last weekend with a lot at stake, Jones said. The last game at Harvard we could have been in third place and we end up tied for sixth or whatever it was. Thats the way its been the last couple of years. Youve got to play your best game or someones beating someone, and it could be anybody in the course of time. We want to play our best and, if a team beats us right now, we want them to earn it.
Tonights opponent, Dartmouth (12-9-4, 8-7-3) is two points ahead of the Golden Knights. Saturdays foe Harvard (7-15-3, 4-12-2) is in last place, but has a four-game unbeaten streak (2-0-2) heading into this weekend.
Dartmouth handled us pretty easily in their building, Jones said. They had the puck for most of the game and we didnt have a great game. They are all tough games in the course of a season. Everybody is jumbled. Theres no separation between these teams. Harvards been hot lately. They are a tough game.
Sportswriter Cap Carey covers Clarkson University hockey for the Times. He can be reached at email@example.com