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Top Secret Fyles: Golden Knights deserve the praise of being hard-working champions

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From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

When Clarkson high-scoring forward Jamie Lee Rattray won the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award on Saturday, it was an omen — though nobody knew it at that time, except for the Clarkson University women’s hockey team.

Rattray, who along with other key seniors became the cornerstones of this hard-working squad, won the greatest individual honor given to a collegiate female hockey player. She was deemed the best player in the land.

Thirty hours later on Sunday, the Golden Knights became the best TEAM in the land, with a 5-4 victory over the University of Minnesota in the NCAA Division I championship game at Hamden, Conn.

The team arrived back in Potsdam on Monday afternoon, with no doubt that NCAA Championship plaque well in hand, to the smiles of coaches, players, students, university administration and the adoring public.

A championship does wonders in the business world of recruiting future hockey stars.

The Golden Knights had done the hard-to-believe, beat Minnesota — a school that consistently produces U.S. and Canadian Olympians.

The Golden Gophers, who had entered Sunday’s game with a sterling 87-1-1 record in its past 89 games, fell victim to a team that had a chance and ran — or more precisely, skated — to glory.

Clarkson’s feat made ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Day at No. 9.

That’s pretty good.

This monumental achievement — becoming the north country’s first Division I squad to win a national hockey championship — became even more spectacular, considering the Golden Knights had lost to Cornell in the ECAC Hockey title game at Potsdam. Thank goodness for NCAA Tournament at-large bids. The committee realized that the Golden Knights deserved a second chance.

Nobody, including myself, gave them a chance against a hotbed of hockey — Minnesota, the two-time defending national champ. Shame on me.

The Golden Knights believed in themselves and their abilities, from Rattray all the way down to the last player on the bench.

And that’s all it took to bring home a national championship.

n There are reports about the overall health of Yankees shortstop and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, who has struggled in spring training. With less than a week to go before the season, Jeter is batting 5-for-44 (.114) in 15 games.

Manager Joe Girardi said he’s positive Jeter, who played only 17 games last season, will be able to produce for the Yankees this season.

Jeter’s speed has slowed and his range has become limited. It would be sad to see Jeter, who turns 40 in June, replaced by Brendan Ryan during the season. The Yankees would be in trouble with Ryan (great fielder, but a terrible hitter).

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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