A sluggish effort in specialty teams play cost the Clarkson University Hockey team on Saturday as the Golden Knights suffered their first shutout at Cheel Arena in over a year as Merrimack College blanked the Green and Gold 4-0 in their final non-league game of the regular season.
Clarkson, which defeated the Warriors 3-2 on Friday night, owns a 13-7-2 overall record as it enters the second half of the ECAC Hockey campaign. Ranked 11th in the country entering the weekend, the Knights return to league action for the first time since early December when they host defending national champion Yale next Friday and Brown on Saturday. Clarkson will look to rebound from its first home shutout loss since October 26, 2012, which capped a current 1-4-1 stretch against Hockey East competition.
The Knights went 0-of-8 on the power play against Merrimack (5-10-3), while the Warriors converted 2-of-6 man-advantage opportunities. Clarkson outshot Merrimack 34-24, but could not connect as it was blanked for the first time since last year's ECAC Hockey playoffs at Brown on March 8.
Merrimack took a 1-0 first-period lead on a goal by Clayton Jardine, who beat Clarkson sophomore goaltender Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) glove-side high on a rising wrist shot from the top of the left circle at 11:17.
Undisciplined play late in the first period and early in the second cost Clarkson as the Knights fell into a 3-0 hole while skating shorthanded for a lengthy stint early in the middle frame. With 16 seconds left before the first-period intermission, the Green and Gold were hit with a pair of infractions after the whistle, including a five-minute major.
The Knights successfully killed off a 5-on-3 to start the second, but the Warriors connected on 5-on-4 power play shortly after with Quinn Gould's goal at 2:16. The Knights were called for another penalty moments after Merrimack's second goal and found themselves down in another 5-on-3 situation. The Warriors' Mike Collins made Clarkson pay with his power-play tally at 3:54 to give the visitors a commanding lead.
Clarkson, which benefited from three power-play opportunities in the third period, outshot Merrimack 13-2 over the final 20 minutes. In a bid to get on the scoreboard, Clarkson pulled Lewis for the extra with over two minutes to play, but Merrimack sealed their win with an empty-net goal by Rhett Bly with 1:45 remaining.
Lewis finished with 20 saves.