Opening Faceoff: Reunion night for Union men’s hockey head coach Hauge at Clarkson

Josh Hauge, right, stands behind the Clarkson men's hockey bench next to head coach Casey Jones during a game last season. Hauge, who spent seven years as an assistant coach with the Golden Knights, returns to Clarkson on Friday as head coach of Union when the Dutchmen face the Golden Knights at Cheel Arena. (Clarkson Athletics photo)

Josh Hauge, right, stands behind the Clarkson men's hockey bench next to head coach Casey Jones during a game last season. Hauge, who spent seven years as an assistant coach with the Golden Knights, returns to Clarkson on Friday as head coach of Union when the Dutchmen face the Golden Knights at Cheel Arena. (Clarkson Athletics photo)

OPENING FACEOFF – Clarkson University held its Family Weekend two weeks ago. The Golden Knights will hold a second one Friday night at Cheel Arena.

First-year Union men’s hockey head coach Josh Hauge makes his return to Potsdam when the Dutchmen play the Golden Knights at 7 p.m. Friday.

Hauge spent seven seasons as an assistant coach under head coach Casey Jones, the last three as the associate head coach. While at Clarkson, the Golden Knights had five 20-win seasons and won the 2019 ECAC Hockey tournament title.

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I think Hauge knew the questions that would be asked during Tuesday’s media availability at Messa Rink. He was smiling the second he walked into the press room, probably because he knew he would be the focus of attention.

“I’m excited to see a lot of friends,” Hauge said. “I consider a lot of the people up their family. It was a great spot, so [I’m] excited to get back and see everyone.”

Jones is also looking forward to the reunion.

“I’m anxious to watch him,” Jones said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I’m not sure if his family’s coming up. We’re good friends, so I am anxious to see what he’s doing and catch up with him.”

Hauge and Jones hit it off immediately when Jones hired Hauge seven years ago. They remain close.

“I think anytime you go to a spot, and you know, you’re leaving your family, as far as your parents and your grandparents, and you’re coming to a spot where you don’t have any help, you become a family,” Hauge said. “That’s what we had up there. His family looked after my boys, and his wife would babysit when we needed it. I would try to do lessons with his kids to help them on the ice. It was a family atmosphere.”

What was the biggest thing he learned from Jones?

“I think just how to be a leader and how to be honest,” Hauge said. “Sometimes it hurts to tell players the truth, but they appreciate it in the end.”

Hauge is doing best not to have his return to Clarkson be a distraction to him and his team. But he has been hearing from people in the Potsdam and Canton area. The Dutchmen face St. Lawrence at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I do think a few more people have asked for tickets,” Hauge said. Some people have reached out, and they’d like to say hi or have coffee when [I’m] there. But for the most part, it’s pretty business as usual for me and we’ve got two tough games. It’s funny because I coached with both coaches. Coach [Brent] Brekee at St. Lawrence, we were both assistants together. So, both games have some ties, but everybody kind of seems to focus on the Clarkson one.”

The Dutchmen are aware of what this game means to Hauge, and they will do everything they can to win the game for him. But it is important to the Dutchmen for them to keep their focus on the ice and not the hype surrounding the game.

“I’m sure it’s always going to be in the back of his head. He spent a lot of time there,” Union forward Liam Robertson said. “But for us, it’s another game, and we’re going to help him out as much as we can. It’s gonna be exciting, and we’re looking forward to getting up there and getting back after it.”

Hauge will make sure that he goes to the right locker room on Friday. However, there is one thing Hauge isn’t looking forward to – walking from the tunnel to the visiting bench across the ice.

“It will be different to walk across the ice surface,” Hauge said. “[The] one thing that I don’t really enjoy is walking across the ice at any rink, especially there when their student section is just yelling at you to fall.”

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RETURN TO CLARKSON, PART 2

Friday’s game isn’t only about Hauge’s return to Clarkson. It marks the Dutchmen’s first game there since getting swept by the Golden Knights in the best-of-three ECACH tournament quarterfinals in March, with the two losses coming in overtime.

Add the Jan. 15 8-2 loss at Cheel, which turned out to be the last game Rick Bennett would be Union’s head coach, the Dutchmen were 0-3 there. In fact, Union has lost six straight at Cheel. Its last win there occurred Jan. 27, 2017, a 6-2 triumph.

Union sophomore defenseman Cullen Ferguson said the team hasn’t forgotten what happened last season.

“I think it’s honestly a good thing to have that in the back of your mind,” Ferguson said. “It keeps you ready. It keeps you focused. You’re never going to be taking it too lightly. And for Hauge going back there, we all know it’s a personal one for him. I think it’s more that we want to win for our coach than thinking about what happened last year. That’s in the past, and we’re just moving forward.”

UNION NAMES THREE CAPTAINS

After playing the first 10 games without a captain, Union named three players as captains on Thursday.

Senior goalie and Hudson Falls native Connor Murphy, senior forward Owen Farris and junior forward Ben Tupker will wear the “C” on their jerseys.

“I am really excited about the leadership group we have for this season,” Hauge said. “All three of them are great representatives of what we want our program to be about. They are men of character and do things the right way in the classroom, socially, and on the ice.”

Murphy is in his second season with Union after transferring from Northeastern. He set a program record for save in a season last year with 1,060.

Farris is a three-time member of the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team. He serves as a member of the Athletic Liaison Committee and on the General Education Board.

Tupker, in his first year with Union, transferred from Cornell after last season. He has two goals and seven blocked shots.

ECACH HONORS UNION, RPI PLAYERS

The ECACH was busy this week handing out league awards for members of the Union and RPI men’s hockey teams.

Murphy was named Goalie of the Week on Monday. He made 53 saves in the two-game series against RPI. Murphy 30 saves in last Saturday’s 6-0 win over the Engineers. It was Union’s first home shutout of RPI at Messa. The last time Union posted a home shutout of RPI was Feb. 23, 1924, a 7-0 win.

Also on Monday, Union freshman defenseman Cal Mell earned Rookie of the Week. He had three assists in last Saturday’s game.

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The conference announced its monthly awards for October on Thursday. Union freshman forward Nate Hanley was named Rookie of the Month. Hanley had two goals and seven assists in the 10 October games. He leads the team in scoring.

RPI’s Jakob Lee and Jack Watson were also honored. Lee, a forward, was named Player of the Month. Lee had three goals and six assists during seven games last month. His nine points leads RPI.

Watson was named Goalie of the Month. Watson went 5-2 with a 2.64 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage and one shutout.

UNION WOMEN FINALLY HOME

After playing its first eight games on the road, the Union women’s hockey team makes its Messa Rink season debut Friday when it hosts Harvard at 6 p.m.

The Dutchwomen went 3-5 on their eight-game excursion, which included ECACH-opening losses at Clarkson and St. Lawrence last weekend. Union is excited to finally play at home.

“It’ll certainly be nice to be home,” said Union head coach Josh Sciba, who missed last weekend’s games because of the flu. “The girls have been well traveled through the first couple of weeks. I think they’re looking forward to wearing a different jersey, quite honestly. But it’ll be nice to be at home.”

The Dutchwomen are coming off last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to St. Lawrence, a game in which the Saints’ Julia Gosling scored with 1.6 seconds left in regulation. It was a tough loss for Union, but one it plans to get over.

“It is a big deal, but not that big of a deal,” Union sophomore goalie Sophie Matsoukas said. “It happened. It might happen again. We played well [in] that game. Everyone in front of me played amazing, and they supported me and I supported them. That one goal at the end of the period has no impact on anything else.”

The matchup with Harvard begins a stretch of seven straight home games for Union. The Dutchwomen play Dartmouth at 3 p.m. Saturday, entertain RIT for two games next Friday and Saturday, hosts Capital Region-rival RPI on Nov. 15 and finish with Quinnipiac (Dec. 2) and Princeton (Dec. 3).

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