Senior goaltender Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) came through with a big effort over the final 20 minutes and the Clarkson University Women's Hockey team closed out a hard-fought game against Syracuse University with two late, third-period scores to defeat the Orange 4-0 on Saturday afternoon at Cheel Arena.
The Golden Knights, who skated past Syracuse 2-1 in Central NY last night, are perfect to start the 2013-14 campaign, matching their best start ever with a 5-0 record. Clarkson closes out the season-opening, non-league portion of its schedule next weekend when it hosts highly-regarded Mercyhurst College in a two-game series in Potsdam.
"Syracuse definitely made it tough on us again tonight," stated co head coach Matt Desrosiers. "They are a hard-working team that I can see having some success this season. I thought we did a good job generating some quality scoring chances that we just weren't able to capitalize on. Our players did a good job staying with it and playing within our system which resulted in a few goals and the win. I also thought Erica had a solid game in the net. She made a few key saves to not let them back in the game and was able to take whistles to stop any kind of pressure Syracuse put on us."
The Knights dominated the first two periods against the Orange (1-3), out shooting the visitors 30-12 through 40 minutes en route to grabbing a 2-0 lead.
Senior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT), who tallied both goals in the win at Syracuse on Friday, opened the scoring midway through the first. Mercer picked up a rebound at the side of the net after a tip by her sister, sophomore Cayley Mercer (Exeter, ONT), and knocked in her fourth goal of the season, a power-play marker at 10:33. Sophomore defenseman Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) started the play with a shot from the point.
At 8:11 of the second period, freshman Genevieve Bannon (Candiac, QUE) gathered in a pass at the blueline, skated in front and slipped a shot past the Orange goaltender for a 2-0 lead. Junior Christine Lambert (Thetford Mines, QUE) and Carly Mercer were credited with the assists.
Benefiting from three power plays and a shorten Clarkson bench due to injuries, Syracuse came on strong over the final 20 minutes, but Howe stood tall in the Clarkson net and held off the Orange to record her 16th career shutout. Howe posted 14 third-period saves and finished with 26 overall.
Ambrose tallied her team-high seventh goal of the season shortly after the Knights went on a power play. Ambrose took a pass off a faceoff from Carly Mercer, skated up ice and flipped in a dump-in that bounced off the back boards, over the Syracuse net and deflected off the back of Orange goaltender Kallie Billadeau into the goal at 16:57.
With 23 seconds remaining, senior Vanessa Gagnon (St. Constant, QUE) stole the puck at center ice and sealed the Knights' sixth straight victory over Syracuse with an empty-net tally.
Clarkson outshot the Orange 36-26. The Knights were 2-of-4 on the power play and killed off all four of Syracuse's man-advantage opportunities. Billadeau finished with 32 saves.