The Clarkson University men's hockey team failed to escape the first round of the ECAC tournament for the second year in a row, losing 3-2 Sunday evening at the hands of arch-rival St. Lawrence.
The Golden Knights were playing shorthanded the entire season after two defensive recruits were suspended by the school following an off-ice incident. Additionally, several defensemen fell to injury over the course of the season, forcing head coach George Roll to shift some pivots to the blue line. The results were poor.
Clarkson went through a long stretch of failures this season, going 1-12-3 from Nov. 21-Feb. 6. The lowest point came in an 11-2 loss at Union on national television on Feb. 5.
Roll, who took the Clarkson job in 2003 after leading Oswego State to the Division III championship game, is just 19-43-11 in the two seasons following the program's last Cleary Cup. Despite the suspensions and injuries that had depleted his roster, Roll came under fire from some impatient fans earlier this year.
In recent weeks Clarkson coach George Roll has been criticized in an anonymous letter to weekly publication North Country Now, and on the Internet in the Clarkson fan forum, LetsGoTech.com.
With a team currently in last place in the ECAC Hockey standings, coming off of last year's 10-19-7 season, some believe the criticism is justified.
Despite possessing a record of 5-20-3 on Feb. 11, Clarkson played competitively down the stretch and went 4-4-1 over their last nine games. They never lost by more than a goal during that stretch and came within five minutes and 13 seconds of ending fifth-seeded St. Lawrence's season on their own ice.
"I think the future is bright with the guys returning," said Roll. "I thought our young guys on defense (Andrew Himelson and Nik Pokulok) had really good freshmen years. I thought (forward) Nick Tremblay really started coming along.
"With the kids coming in, I like our prospects of getting it turned around in a hurry next year. But there is going to be a lot of sting from this one."