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Clarkson Hockey notes: McPherson ultimate pro at collegiate level

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POTSDAM — Ever since he arrived on the Clarkson University campus four years ago, Allan McPherson has brought a passion for the game of hockey that few can match.

After a game, whether it’s a win, loss or tie, McPherson will provide analysis that sounds almost like you are talking to one of the coaches on the team, not a player. And if Clarkson happens to lose, you can tell just how hard it has affected him by his mannerisms.

“I’ve cared about the game ever since I was young, maybe too much sometimes,” McPherson said. “I kind of take it back with me. That comes with the maturing process. You can’t get too down when you lose and too up when you win. I’ve been like that my whole life, really passionate for the game.”

Clarkson head coach Casey Jones has observed the same passionate traits in the senior from Kinburn, Ontario.

“He’s a good teammate,” Jones said. “He holds guys accountable within the locker room and holds himself accountable to a high standard and self-evaluates properly. That’s a good trait of a good player.”

The best trait McPherson has brought to Clarkson is his consistency, both in his performance on the ice and the way he goes about preparing for practices and games.”

McPherson scored a goal in his first game in a Clarkson uniform, though it did not count because it was an exhibition game. He scored his first real goal in the second regular-season game.

Every year McPherson has scored at least 23 points, and this year, he leads the team in scoring with 11 goals and 13 assists in 34 games. He’s the only Golden Knight with double-figure totals in goals.

McPherson also is five points shy of 100 career points with at least four games left, if not more, in his Clarkson career.

“He has done very well here,” said senior Mike Garlasco, McPherson’s roommate the past four years. “He’s been very consistent. It just comes down to hard work. He’s always worked hard and done the little things right and it shows on the ice. When he comes (to the arena), he is very professional about it.”

As a freshman, McPherson scored eight goals with 15 assists and he followed that with 11 goals and 12 assists in his sophomore year. Last year, he produced nine goals with 16 assists.

But in McPherson’s first two years he had a minus-11 rating in plus/minus. The past two seasons he has been plus-13.

“I’ve matured a lot as a player,” McPherson said. “I came in kind of as just a straight offensive kind of guy. I’ve learned the responsibilities of the game, different aspects of the game and I’ve learned a lot more about the game.”

McPherson, as a freshman, chose a player with similar traits to his own, Scott Freeman, to observe.

“He seemed like a guy who knew what he was doing and an offensive guy,” McPherson said. “All the (veteran) guys were really good to me, and they helped me develop into a better person and player. I try to do the same thing (now) the seniors did for me. I give (freshmen) a listening ear when they need it, give them advice here and there. If they ask questions I give them a sincere answer and realize where I came from as a freshman and come to that level with them. You embrace that role.”

Jones, a former assistant coach at Cornell when McPherson was a freshman at Clarkson, scouted him when he was playing junior hockey for the Kanata Stallions.

“He was a good hockey player and had good hockey sense,” Jones said. “You probably (just watching from afar) don’t appreciate some of his really outstanding qualities. He’s really competitive and comes to practice hard and loves the game of hockey.

“He brings a lot of intangible qualities to the table and a passion for the game that, as a coach, you really appreciate.

“Consistency is one of the best traits you can have, and obviously’s Al’s been that. His consistency in how he prepares and works and goes about the game has been outstanding. He is a big cog for us in terms of our success. I know he feels a big part of it and he prepares properly.”

McPherson is an explosive skater and that could be a skill that helps him play well in his hockey career after Clarkson.

“Between the blue lines he backs guys off as well as anyone in the league,” Jones said. “That’s probably one of his greatest qualities. He’ll have a legitimate chance of moving on. His hockey sense and his skating sense will enable him to do it. His role might chance. I think he’s got a lot of upside for where he’s going to play.”

A business major, McPherson said he’d like to own his own company someday, something that would be sports-related. But don’t be too surprised to find him on a bench in a suit and tie standing behind players.

“Staying with the game would be absolutely beneficial for me,” McPherson said. “I think I have a good mind for the game, but you don’t really know until you start coaching.”

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

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