Clarkson men's hockey looks to get back on track with weekend series in NY's Capital District region
Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 7:57 am

As the ECAC Hockey campaign winds down with four games remaining in the regular-season, the Clarkson University Hockey team is in contention for a top-four finish in the conference standings, currently tied with Cornell for the fourth spot, three points shy of third.

Guided by third-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy '00 and Andy Jones, the Golden Knights travel to NY's Capital District region this weekend in their final road trip of the season to play 3rd-ranked Union and long-time rival Rensselaer. Clarkson faces off against the Dutchmen at Achilles Center in Schenectady on Friday and then battles the Engineers on Saturday at Houston Field House in Troy. Game times are 7:00 p.m. both nights. Friday's game at Union will be televised by Time Warner Cable Sports. Clarkson closes out the regular season on February 28 and March 1 hosting Princeton and Quinnipiac.

Led by senior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT) and his six veteran teammates, the Knights post a 10-8 ECAC Hockey mark and a 17-13-2 overall record. League points have been hard to come by for the Green and Gold in recent weeks as Clarkson has earned just four out of a possible 12 points in the last three weeks. Since opening the 2014 portion of the ECAC Hockey campaign with a sweep of Yale and Brown by 3-2 scores at Cheel Arena on January 17-18, the Knights have gone 2-6.

This past weekend in Potsdam, Clarkson suffered its first league sweep at Cheel as Harvard and Dartmouth picked up key wins on the road. The Knights outshot the Crimson 31-17 on Friday, but Harvard scored the game's only goal with 14 seconds remaining in overtime to pull out the 1-0 win. On Saturday against Dartmouth, the Big Green tallied four goals in the final 11 minutes of the first period en route to handing Clarkson a 6-1 loss.

One of the top teams in the country, Union is unbeaten in its last five games (4-0-1) and sits atop the ECAC Hockey standings with a 14-3-1 league mark, four points in front of Quinnipiac in the race for the Cleary Cup. Overall, third-year head coach Rick Bennett's squad is 20-6-4. The Dutchmen were solid in a 4-1 victory over Cornell at Lynah Rink in Ithaca on Friday and battled back from a 4-2 second-period deficit at Colgate on Saturday to gain a 4-4 tie at Starr Rink in Hamilton. Union's last loss was a 2-1 setback at St. Lawrence on January 31. Union has already clinched a first-round bye. After opening the year 1-3-1 in their first four home games, the Dutchmen have gone 8-0 since at Messa Rink.

Rensselaer is making a late-season push to grab a top-four spot in the league standings. Guided by eighth-year head coach Seth Appert, the Engineers enter the weekend in seventh place with a 7-7-4 ECAC Hockey slate, two points behind Clarkson and Cornell for fourth. Rensselaer, which hosts St. Lawrence on Friday, owns a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) and is 5-2-1 since mid-January. This past Friday, the Engineers scored with 54 seconds remaining in the third to gain a 1-1 tie at Colgate and then jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead through 40 minutes at Cornell on Saturday to earn a 3-1 victory. Rensselaer is 6-3-4 at Houston Field House this season.

The Series:

The Knights hold a significant advantage in their all-time series against Union, leading 28-21-5 in the rivalry. The Dutchmen, however, are 18-14-3 against the Knights in games played during the 2000s, including a 9-1 mark in the last 10 meetings. Union won the first game this season, 4-3, at Cheel on February 1.

Clarkson has struggled recently at Achilles Center, where Union has won the last seven meetings and is currently 9-0-1 in Schenectady against the Knights. The Dutchmen hold a 14-12-4 all-time advantage over Clarkson at Achilles. Union has outscored the Knights 35-7 over the last five games in Schenectady and shut out the Green and Gold 4-0 in the last game there on March 2, 2013.

Allan McPherson has a team-high four points against the Dutchmen with one goal and three assists. Sam Labrecque has a team-high two goals in the series. Greg Lewis posts a .932 save percentage and a 2.50 GAA against Union. Steve Perry made 22 saves on 26 shots in the first meeting this season.

In a heated rivalry which dates back to the 1924-25 campaign, Clarkson leads the overall series against Rensselaer 85-48-8. The Knights snapped a three-game losing skid against their rivals with a 3-0 shutout over the Engineers at Cheel Arena on January 31.

Over the past 10 games in series both teams have five victories. Last year, RPI swept the regular-season from the Green and Gold, winning 6-2 in Potsdam and 5-0 in Troy. Clarkson had won the previous two meetings at Houston Field House prior to that loss on March 1, 2013. The Knights' last victory on the Engineer's home ice was a 3-2 triumph on January 28, 2012.

Sam Labrecque (2-3) and Ben Sexton (1-4) have recorded a team-high five points in the series. Allan McPherson and Alex Boak have also scored two goals against the Engineers. James Howden, Todd Christian and Kevin Tansey are the only other current Knights to have scored a goal against RPI.

Steve Perry turned aside all 16 shots he faced in the game in late January as Clarkson posted its first whitewash over RPI in 17 years. Greg Lewis has played 44 minutes in two games against the Engineers.

Knight Notes:

Clarkson has played in an NCAA-high 22 one-goal games, going 13-7-2 in those contests. The Knights have struggled in the tight games recently, going 1-4 in the past five nail-biters ... Clarkson has gone 1-1-2 in overtime games this season … The Green and Gold are 13-4-1 when scoring first, but just 1-7-1 when trailing after the opening 20 minutes … Clarkson is 10-1-1 when holding the lead through two periods, but 1-8-1 when behind after 40 minutes … Allan McPherson (Kinburn, ONT) and classmate Ben Sexton are tied for the Clarkson scoring lead at 23 points. McPherson has tallied a team-high 11 goals, including three in the last six games. He is tied for the third most game-winning goals in the country at five. The Knights are 9-1 when McPherson scores a goal. The senior center is closing in on the Century Mark with 39 goals and 55 assists through 140 games … Sexton, who sat out the two games over the weekend with an injury, is Clarkson's leading playmaker with 17 assists … Sophomore Jeff DiNallo (Aurora, ONT) continues to impress in his sophomore season as the Knights' third-leading scorer. He has nine goals and 18 points after posting four points (2-2) in his rookie campaign … Freshman Jordan Boucher (St. Therese, QUE) scored his second goal of the season against Dartmouth on Saturday for the Knights' lone goal on the weekend … Sophomore Paul Geiger (Stouffville, ONT) leads the Clarkson defensemen in scoring with 14 points (5-9) … A. J. Fossen (Maple Grove, MN), who has tallied three assists over the past four games, leads the Knights freshmen in scoring with 12 points on four goals and eight assists … Sophomore Steve Perry (Ligonier, PA) and sophomore Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) have seen the bulk of the action in the Clarkson goal … Perry and has played in 17 games with a .911 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average en route to an 8-7-2 record with three shutouts … Lewis has played 15 games and posts a .891 save percentage, a 2.69 GAA and an 8-5 record … Freshman Ville Runola (Raisio, Finland) has made two NCAA starts and holds a .862 save percentage, a 4.02 GAA and a 1-1 record.