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Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Clarkson Head Coach George Roll

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, January 9 at 2:00 p.m. ET, Clarkson Head Coach George Roll pays a visit to "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. The Golden Knights face ECACHL rivals Colgate and Cornell this weekend.

George Roll

As the Clarkson University Hockey program enters its fourth season under head coach George Roll, the future looks very bright for the Golden Knights. With diligent work on the recruiting trail, Roll along with associate coach Greg Drechsel and assistant coach Jean-Francois Houle have brought in a talented group of players who appear ready to lift the Green and Gold to the upper echelon of the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League (ECACHL). Roll's recruiting classes, which form the foundation for the Knights' resurgence, have generated 10 NHL Draft picks, including seven selected over the past three years.

In his first season as the Knights' head coach, Roll guided the Green and Gold to an 18-18-5 overall record in 2003-04, but the Knights stellar play in the postseason, where they skated in the ECACHL Tournament Championship game for the first time since 1999, defined the new coaching staff's debut at Clarkson. Last season, the Knights skated to their first winning campiagn in four years with an 18-17-3 overall record.

A former assistant coach at Clarkson, Roll came back to the University after a very successful tenure as the head coach at Oswego State. Roll completed his seven-year stint at Oswego when he guided the Great Lakers into the title game of the 2003 Division III National Championships. From 1988-1996, with Roll as an assistant coach, Clarkson complied a 176-82-26 overall record, claimed two ECAC Tournament titles and advanced to the Frozen Four in 1991. In seven years at Oswego State, Roll amassed a 119-74-16 overall record and guided the Lakers to two NCAA Tournament appearances. A native of the Chicago suburb of Blue Island, Illinois, Roll played four years at Bowling Green State University under former Clarkson head coach Jerry York and was a member of the Falcons' 1984 National Chmapionship team.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: George won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 9th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Good afternoon, and welcome to "Tuesday @ the Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We're joined now by Clarkson head coach George Roll.
Coach Roll: Hi everyone, I'm looking forward to answering your questions. I appreciate your interest.

Richter547: How important is this weekend's series against Colgate and Cornell and how does this series set the tone for the rest of the ECACHL schedule?
Coach Roll: I think it's a pivotal series for all four teams involved. Right now, in our league there's a great disparity in terms of league games played. We're at the low end, and we need to make up ground on the teams ahead, and I 'm sure the other teams feel the same way. I do feel this weekend will go a long way in determining who finishes in the top four. That being said, if any of the teams don't have as much success this weekend, there are still plenty of games to make up ground, but they're still key games for any of the teams that will be challenging for a league championship.

Audrey (Canada): You've had some great playoff series against Cornell, and it seems that there's a strong dislike between the two programs and you and coach Schafer. Can we expect any fireworks on Saturday night?
Coach Roll: I don't think there's a great dislike. I have a lot of respect for Mike as a coach, and feel their program, over my tenure, has been the top program in our league, or one of the top, and that's where we aspire to be. The series has been very intense and competitive, and sometimes emotions do spill over, but from my perspective, I learned a lot from our experience last year at Cornell. I'm certainly a better coach for it.

Andy (Massena): Mr. Roll, are you going to appeal the game disqualification against Nick Dodge given by official John Murphy? Can you appeal something of that nature? Thank you.
Coach Roll: No. There is no appeal process. We brought it to the league's attention and were told by Mr. Hagwell that there is not an appeal process for a call of this nature.

Bob (Rochester): George: Alumni of Clarkson. Great job so far this year. The typical Clarkson season, for the past few years, has been play so-so until mid-January, then kick tail to the playoffs. With your great start so far, has this team hit its stride, or can they take it up a notch and get a top seed in the ECAC?
Coach Roll: We've played very well during this stretch, but there's always room for imporvement. Our best days are still ahead of us, and we certaily feel that with our record in our non-league schedule, we're certainly pleased with our play to this point. Now, as we get into the meat of the ECACHL schedule, we need to continue that type of effort and execution of our systems to have success the rest of the way.

Tom , Parishville, NY: The Knights have shown significant improvement in their road record this year... what changes have you made to cause such a major improvement in that area?
Coach Roll: I thought, two years ago, we were 10-11 games under .500, and last year we were one game over .500, and there were a lot of significant improvements, not only in our record, but I thought our special teams, our commitment and dedication on and off the ice were much improved. Out improvement this year is a reflection of what we went through last year in terms of learning. We lost a lot of tough games on the road. We've grown up as a team. We were very young last year, and sometimes, you have to go through a maturing process. I think there were a lot of positives in terms of turning the road record into a positive. We weren't satisfied with our record last year overall, but we really felt as a staff that we had turned a corner in terms of the direction of the program.

Oswego State: Coach - How do you feel Steve Zalewski has progressed in your program since his freshman year? What impact will Steve have on your team's chances of a league / national championship?
Coach Roll: I think Steve, along with a number of other players in that class, have really made a significant progression as a class. They've really stepped up as a class and become very strong college players at this level with the chance to be elite players at the college level. Steve has had an exceptional year, not just in terms of his point production, but also his defensive play, and winning draws. Every facet of the game, he excels at and he's a very competitive young man.

Vic Brzozowski (Ellicott City, Md): George, Freshman Goalie Matt Smith recently left school for the QMJHL due to lack of playing time. What does the coaching staff try to do to get kids that are ambitious and talented but not playing due to an upper classman (David Leggio) having a great year to have some patience and stick it out.
Coach Roll: I think we tried to explain to Matt examples of players like Mark Dekanich, who didn't play much as freshman at Colgate and, the next year, was top goalie in our league. David Leggio has had an exceptional season to date, and we just felt that with the way he was playing, he was going to get the majority of the minutes. Matt was our goaltender of the future, but made a decision to go a different path. We wish him nothing but the best.

Devin (Dryden, NY): The St. Cloud road trip seems to have been a defining point in the season, what did you and the rest of the coaching staff do to motivate the team after such a miserable road trip?
Coach Roll: I think for all of us, it was certainly an eye-opener in terms of the work ethic that's needed to win night in and night out, and in that four-game losing streak, we did not have that determination and work ethic to get to that level St. Cloud was at. I give J.F. Houle, who is a proud alum, a lot of the credit for putting things in perspective. A lot of things guys take for granted were taken away. We got wood sticks, and made the players' lounge off limits. I'm not saying it was all based on that, but I'd say that we realized that to have success we needed to do more than just show up. Night in and night out, we have to come with a determination and an effort, and with a passion to play the game. The players deserve a lot of the credit also. They took it upon themselves. Our work ethic in practice has been much better from that time on. That's where players get better and establish habits that make themselves better and make their teammates better, and those practice habits have carried over to the games.

Chris, Green Bay, WI: Coach, I'm a Clarkson Fan that was born and raised in Potsdam, NY. Clarkson has had some great teams through my high school years and has produced some NHLers (Craig Conroy, Todd White, Willie Mitchell, Erik Cole, Chris Clark, for example). As a fan I was so disappointed that they couldn't get in done in the NCAA tourney. How much confidence did this years team gain by beating the Badgers in their house? Also, How good is this Golden Knights Team compared to other years, and do you feel this team can go far in big tourney? Thanks, Chris LaSalle
Coach Roll: We haven't looked at the big picture at this stage. We've gone through three years of not putting ourselves at the level to get to the NCAA tournament. At this stage, we're not looking beyond our next game, but the confidence we've gained from beating Miami at home, beating a Wisconsin team that certainly wasn't at their 'A' game, certainly proves that we have the ability to play at a high level. If you start looking past that, to the NCAA tournament, you're going to lose sight of how to get there. Certainly, our goal when we took over here as a staff was to get back to the NCAA tournament, and I truly feel the ingredients and the chemistry are there for this team to make a run in the postseason. As for how this Clarkson team stacks up to others, I can only speak to the teams when I was here as an assistant, and I certainly feel that this team upfront is very deep, and can roll three solid offensive lines, and our D corps, although not deep in terms of numbers, certainly has the quality. David has played as well as any goalie that I've seen at Clarkson during my tenure as an assistant and head coach.

Ithaca N.Y: you have 8 SR. on the team do you think that gives you a advantage in the ecachl and how will it affect you next year,GO BIG RED!!!
Coach Roll: I think everybody goes through replacing guys, and that's part of the process, but this year's senior class has played extremely well for us to this date. They've provided great leadership, and have worked extremely hard. They've gone through three frustrating years, and took it upon themselves to get Clarkson back to being one of the top teams in our league.

Eric (Rochester, NY): Coach Roll, First, Congratulations on the big win at the Badger Showdown against Wisconsin and Lake Superior State. Do you think the ECACHL will ever be truly competitive with the WCHA and the CCHA? if so, what needs to happen?
Coach Roll: Obviously, the WCHA has proven with the past five national championships, that they're at the top of their game in terms of their league's standings. I can speak to us as a program in terms of becoming competitive with them. Next year, we start a two-year agreement with Colorado College (away and home), and St. Cloud will be coming to Potsdam to play two. We certainly want to do our part to help our league gain respect, not only against the WCHA but the other conferences as well.

Brewer, Maine: As a former Potsdam resident and (still) Golden Knight fan, I want to congratulate you on the job you've done in rebuilding the program. Is there a coach that you've emulated or that's had a profound affect on you?
Coach Roll: Having played under Coach York at Bowling Green, and working under him for one year as a grad assistant, I wouldn't have gotten into the profession if it wasn't for Jerry. He's taught me more in terms of life skills and how to deal with situations, and has had a very positive effect on my career as a coach. Jerry went through two tough years at Bowling Green and it took him time to get BC to where it is today, and the one thing he told me that helped me through our tough times here at Clarkson is to remain positive amd stay the course. I think his experiences taking over programs helped me get through the situation I inherited here at Clarkson. He always told me to stick to your values and stay the course, and eventually, things will turn in a positive manner.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Roll this afternoon.
Coach Roll: Thanks for the insightful questions.
CSTV.com Moderator: That will do it for this week's "Tuesday @ the Rink" Chats. Keep checking back for info on next week's guests.

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