Potsdam, NY – A matchup between two of the nation's top six teams did not disappoint, as the 4th/5th ranked University of North Dakota edged the 6th ranked Clarkson University Women's Hockey team 2-1 on Friday afternoon at Cheel Arena.
The loss drops the Golden Knights to 12-4-2 (5-2-1 ECAC Hockey) on the season while North Dakota improves to 10-3-2 (7-3-2 WCHA) on the year. The two teams will meet again tomorrow afternoon at Cheel Arena for a 3:00 pm start.
"I thought today was a good back and forth game between two great teams," stated Clarkson co-head coach Matt Desrosiers. "We came out of the gates very well in the first 10 minutes and North Dakota did a good job weathering the storm before settling in and getting the first goal at the end of the period. We battled our way back in the second to even things up and had a few other good chances that we weren't able to convert on. I fully expect another exciting game tomorrow as well."
Senior goaltender Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) came up big five minutes into the period as North Dakota's first scoring attempt came on a breakaway. A pass through the changing defense of Clarkson found Meghan Dufault wide open in the center of the ice. Drawing the puck into the zone, she attempted to beat Howe stick-side but a kick save kept North Dakota off the scoreboard. A second shot would hit the post less than a minute later, but the game remained scoreless.
Clarkson's first scoring chance came as senior Brittany Styner (Calgary, ALB) brought the puck into the zone and found classmate Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) wide open on the far side of the ice, but her shot was deflected wide by North Dakota goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie.
The Golden Knights had the first opportunity with the extra skater and managed two shots on the power-play but were unable to score.
North Dakota's first attempt on the power-play was killed off by the Green and Gold, as Clarkson kills over 90% of shorthanded situations.
With less than a minute to play North Dakota got on the board. Dufault controlled the puck behind the Clarkson net and passed to Shannon Kaiser, who passed to Josefine Jakobsen to the left of the Golden Knight net. After gathering the puck and winding through two defenders, Jakobsen put a shot on net that went through the five-hole by Howe to give North Dakota the 1-0 lead. The goal was the first allowed by Howe in 196:36 minutes.
North Dakota immediately tested Howe in the second period, getting two shots on net in the first 15 seconds. Clarkson would return the favor a minute later as senior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) passed through the defense to her sister sophomore Cayley Mercer (Exeter, ONT), but her shot was stopped by Amsley-Benzie.
Another Clarkson power-play was unsuccessful midway through the second period, although not without a chance as a deflected puck sat in the crease but the Knights could not find the net and remained down 1-0.
The Knights would not trail for much long, however, as Clarkson capitalized on a two-on-one opportunity at the 13:07 mark. Junior Jennifer Shields (Ingersoll, ONT) was able to beat the North Dakota defender and get her pass to Carly Mercer who took a shot that was saved by Amsley-Benzie. The rebound was quickly collected by senior Shelby Nisbet (Wiseton, SASK), and she ripped a shot through traffic in front of the net and beat the goaltender to tie the game at one a side.
Momentum remained with the Knights as they found themselves on the power-play with less than five minutes to play in the period. Sophomore Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) fired a shot from the blue line that hit the post, and another shot went just wide of the net to keep the game knotted at one.
The second period came to a close with North Dakota still serving 1:14 of another penalty committed late in the period. Clarkson outshot North Dakota 19-14 through two periods.
Sophomore Olivia Howe (Moose Jaw, SASK) had a chance seven minutes into the third period with a wrap-around that caught Amsley-Benzie by surprise, but her shot went wide of the net to keep the scored tied.
The third period was again up and down the ice but North Dakota was able to break the tie at the 13:37 mark. Susana Tapani found Lisa Marvin in front of the net, who beat Howe to put North Dakota up 2-1.
Styner had a chance less than a minute later, but her first shot was blocked, and her shot off the rebound was knocked away by the glove of Amsley-Benzie.
The Knights were able to pressure the North Dakota net late, but even as they pulled Howe for an extra skater late, North Dakota hung on for the victory.
Clarkson outshot North Dakota 27-20 on the afternoon, but failed to score on any of its five power-play attempts. Howe stopped 18 shots in the game.