Alumni Magazine Summer 2014 - page 17-18

Summer 2014
Summer 2014
Fall 2013
tanding in a circle,
their arms locked
around each other’s
shoulders and waists,
it was impossible for
some of the players
to hold back tears.
In those tension-filled
moments before
Clarkson’s women’s hockey team took
to the ice for the NCAA Tournament
championship game in March, assistant
coach Matt Kelly’s message struck a nerve.
The right one.
“I told them we’re going to come out
of this the same way we came into it —
together,” says Kelly, who throughout the
season usually delivered the motivational
pregame speech. “I didn’t expect the tears,
but I think they were mostly tears of joy,
because the girls knew they had worked
so hard to be in that moment. They were
ready for it.”
After 60 of the hardest-fought minutes
many of them ever played, they were
awash in emotion again. Clarkson shocked
the hockey world by defeating the sport’s
Goliath, two-time defending champion
Minnesota, in an epic title game that
marked the culmination of a program
reborn just 11 years ago.
In becoming the first program outside
of Minnesota or Wisconsin to win the
Division I title, Clarkson cemented its
place in history by playing a team-first
style of hard-working hockey favored by its
historic husband-and-wife head coaching
duo, Matt and Shannon Desrosiers.
“We had a big team meeting before
the season and set goals,” says Shannon.
“One of our goals was to win the national
championship. I think our players and staff
felt like it was realistic.”
Turns out it was, even if actually doing
it felt like a dream.
Rick Seeley’s first day of work as the
inaugural head coach of the second
iteration of the Clarkson women’s hockey
program (the school also fielded a team
from 1974-84) was quite busy. On the
agenda that day in 2002 was … everything.
“When I showed up my office
was basically a closet where all the old
furniture went,” he says. “I cleared that
out, didn’t have a phone to start. No locker
room or anything like that. You’re trying to
sell something that doesn’t exist.”
He must have been a talented
salesman, because over the course of his
five seasons Seeley built Clarkson into a
solid D-I program that cracked the top 10
in national rankings. When he left to take
over the women’s program at Quinnipiac
University in 2008, Athletic Director
Steve Yianoukos made the unprecedented
decision to hire both of the Desrosiers, then
Clarkson assistants, as co-head coaches.
“We thought they had great individual
characteristics, and that together, the sum of
the parts would be even better,” he says.
He was right. Over their first five
years, the couple guided the Golden
Knights to two NCAA Tournament
appearances, but couldn’t secure a
“Right from
September, I
thought this was
going to be a
special season.”
— Carly Mercer ’14
Goaltender Erica Howe ’14 successfully defends the net
during the championship game.
By Mike Unger
John Hassett Photography
Photo by Ting-Li Wang
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