Coming off a pair of big victories over archrival St. Lawrence, the Clarkson University Hockey team will look to close out the 2012 portion of the schedule with another solid effort as it hosts Mercyhurst College in a non-conference game at Cheel Arena beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. Individuals who bring a canned good will receive complimentary general admission. Help the Golden Knights support the Potsdam Neighborhood Center.
The Golden Knights, guided by second-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy ’00 and Andy Jones, are currently enjoying their longest win streak of the season at two games after skating past St. Lawrence twice last week. Clarkson posted a 4-1 ECAC Hockey victory over the Saints in Canton on Wednesday and then took down its Route 11 neighbor 3-1 in Lake Placid before an enthusiastic crowd of 5,000 at the historic 1980 Herb Brooks Arena on Saturday.
Led by junior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT) and senior assistant captain Andrew Himelson (Monroe, NY), the Knights own a 4-7-5 overall record and will enter 2013 tied for fifth in the ECAC standings with a 3-3-1 league mark. Twelve of Clarkson’s first 16 games have been decided by two-goals or less, with the Green and Gold going 1-6-5 in those contests. Three of those losses were one-goal defeats.
The Golden Knights displayed a balanced offense, a stingy defensive-effort and an improved penalty-killing unit in the wins over St. Lawrence. Junior Will Frederick (Allison Park, PA) scored two goals and recorded an assist and freshman Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) posted 34 saves as Clarkson earned its fifth straight ECAC Hockey win over archrival St. Lawrence with the victory at Appleton. Sophomore Joe Zarbo (Grand Island, NY) and freshman Simon Bessette’s (St. Jean, QUE) also scored in the win. St. Lawrence outshot the Green and Gold 35-31, but Lewis was on top of his game and posted a career-high 17 stops in the second period.
Members of Clarkson’s freshman class made an impressive debut in their first appearance on the Olympic ice in Lake Placid helping the Knights to their seventh win in the past eight meetings against their archrivals. Bessette tallied a goal and an assist, while classmate Jeff DiNallo (Aurora, ONT) scored the game-winner. Lewis was sharp again in the Clarkson crease as he held the Saints to just one goal for the second consecutive game with a 25-save effort. Junior Jarrett Burton (Echo Bay, ONT) tallied Clarkson’s third straight goal, his team-high seventh of the season, as the Knights overcame a 1-0 deficit.
Clarkson’s shorthanded unit, which has struggled early in the season, was strong against the Saints, killing off nine of St. Lawrence’s 10 power plays over the two games. Much of Clarkson’s success on the penalty kill can be attributed to the strong play of Lewis, who was named ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week.
Mercyhurst, which will be making the one-game trek to the North Country on Saturday, is no stranger to travel this season. The Lakers, guided by 25th-year head coach Rick Gotkin, have played 11 of their first 13 games on the road. Mercyhurst owns a 6-6-1 overall record, including a 5-5-1 mark on the road, and is tied for third in Atlantic Hockey with a 6-3 league slate. Playing its first games of the season in Erie, PA this past weekend, the Lakers spit a series against conference foe American International. On Friday, Mercyhurst lost to AIC 7-3, but came back on Saturday with a 7-2 win over the Yellow Jackets. In their only other action against an ECAC Hockey opponent, the Lakers were swept (4-2, 4-1) by Renssealer in Troy on November 16-17.
The Golden Knights and Lakers have faced each other five times, all in Potsdam, with Clarkson claiming victory in each game. In their last meetings, the Green and Gold swept Mercyhurst in a weekend series at Cheel Arena, winning 4-3 in overtime and 8-2, on January 2-3, 2004. Clarkson also defeated Mercyhurst 2-0 and 8-1 on January 4-5, 2002, and edged the Lakers 2-1 in their first meeting on October 21, 2000.
Greg Lewis turned aside 59 of 61 shots (.967 save%) combined in the Knights’ two victories over St. Lawrence, allowing only one goal in each win. He made a career-high 17 stops in the second period in the 4-1 win at St. Lawrence. Lewis was named ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week. Lewis has played 15 of the first 16 games, including 14 starts. He posts a .908 save percentage and a 2.67 goals against average en route to a 4-6-4 overall record, including one shutout in his freshman campaign ... Although Clarkson does not feature any players near the top of the lists in major offensive categories in the country, the Knights are receiving a balanced scoring effort … Sixteen Golden Knights have scored goals led by Jarrett Burton with seven … Joe Zarbo, with three goals over the past four games, has six goals, including a team-high four power-play markers … Rookies Simon Bessette and Jeff DiNallo have produced big goals in recent games and are playing a key role in the improving play of the Green and Gold … Bessette, who has four goals overall, has tallied three times over the past five games, including a score in both wins over St. Lawrence … DiNallo, who recorded his first career goal at Colgate (12/1), netted the game-winning goal in Saturday’s victory over the Saints, converting a perfect passing combination from classmate Todd Christian (Norwalk, CT) and Bessette … Will Frederick enjoyed another big game at Appleton Arena on Wednesday with a three-point outing in the 4-1 win over St. Lawrence. He scored the game’s opening two goals with first-period tallies and also set up a score. In last year’s 5-3 win at St. Lawrence (12/6/11), Frederick also posted a three-point night with two goals and one assist. Frederick, who also recorded an assist in Saturday’s victory in Lake Placid, has nine points (4-5) this year, equaling his point total from last season (3-6) … Junior Allan McPherson (Kinburn, ONT) leads the Green and Gold in scoring with 14 points, including a team-high 11 assists … Burton follows with 13 points (7-6) after posting six (2-4) last year … Clarkson’s captain Ben Sexton, who has missed the past five games with an injury, is the only other Knight recording double figures, with 10 points (4-6) through 11 games … Pat Megannety (Oakville, ONT) leads the freshmen in scoring with five goals and three assists … Rookie defenseman Paul Geiger (Stouffville, ONT) is Clarkson top scorer from the blueline with six points (2-4) … McPherson, Andrew Himelson and junior defenseman Alex Boak (Norwood, NY) shared the team plus/minus lead at +8 each … Boak has a team-high 45 minutes in penalties … After Saturday’s game against Mercyhurst, which is the first of six straight games in Potsdam, the Knights are off until the New Year when they return to play hosting UMass-Lowell on January 4-5 in the final non-league games of the regular season ... Clarkson resumes ECAC Hockey play on January 11 when they faceoff against Brown at Cheel Arena.