With home ice on the line and a possible first-round bye still within reach for the upcoming playoffs, the Clarkson University Hockey team will be looking for two solid efforts in New York’s Capital District region this weekend in the final games of the regular season.
Guided by second-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy ’00 and Andy Jones, the Golden Knights can finish anywhere from third to 11th in the final ECAC Hockey standings. Clarkson posts an 8-9-3 conference mark, good for seventh place. The Green and Gold are just two points out of fourth, but also just four points from dropping to 11th in the highly competitive 12-team league. Led by junior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT) and senior assistant captain Andrew Himelson (Monroe, NY), the Knights own a 9-16-7 overall record.
The Knights battle long-time rival Renssealer on Friday in a 7:00 p.m. game at Houston Field House in Troy. Clarkson then takes on 2012 ECAC Hockey champion Union in a 7:00 p.m. game at Messa Rink in Schenectady on Saturday to close out the regular season.
Clarkson enjoyed its best month of the 2012-13 campaign in February, compiling a 4-3-1 mark to put itself in contention for one of the eight top spots. The Knights closed out the regular season at Cheel Arena over the weekend by posting its second straight spilt in Potsdam.
On Friday, the Knights played a solid game against 19th-ranked Dartmouth and came away with a 4-0 win over the Big Green. Freshman Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) was sharp in the Clarkson crease with a 28-save effort to record his second shutout of the season. Junior Jarrett Burton (Echo Bay, ONT) scored two goals and classmates Mike Garlasco (Mahwah, NJ) and Alex Boak (Norwood, NY) tallied one goal and one assist apiece to highlight the offensive play.
Despite jumping out to a quick lead and outshooting the visitors 31-20, Clarkson could not carry over the momentum from Friday night’s victory as the Golden Knights fell to Harvard 6-2 in the final regular-season game at Cheel Arena, suffering its third straight Saturday night loss. Sexton and freshman Simon Bessette (St. Jean, QUE) scored for the Green and Gold. Clarkson trailed 3-2 after 40 minutes, but the Crimson pulled away in the third, scoring three goals on their first four shots of the period.
Battling to secure a top-four spot, Rensselaer posts a second-place 10-7-3 ECAC Hockey mark. The Engineers, guided by seventh-year head coach Seth Appert, have clinched a home-ice berth and need two points to clinch a first-round bye. Rensselaer stands at 15-12-5 overall. This past weekend, the Engineers split in Central NY. On Friday, RPI saw a six-game win streak come to a halt with a 4-1 loss at Cornell. They came back the next night with a 3-2 overtime triumph at Colgate. Rensselaer is 10-2-2 at Houston Field House this season.
Although Union will not claim its second straight Cleary Cup as regular-season champion, the Dutchmen can still finish anywhere from second to 10th in the standings. Guided by second-year head coach Rick Bennett, Union is one point ahead of Clarkson in sixth place entering the weekend with an 8-8-4 league mark. The Dutchmen stand at 15-12-5 overall heading into Friday’s game against St. Lawrence. This past weekend, Union lost two on the road, falling at Colgate 4-1 and Cornell 4-2. The Dutchmen are 7-3-2 in Schenectady this winter.
The Knights hold a significant advantage in their all-time series against Union, leading 28-19-5 in the rivalry, and celebrated one of their biggest win over the Dutchmen in their last meeting. Clarkson snapped a nine-game losing skid in the series with a 2-1 victory at Cheel Arena on February 8.
Union is 16-14-3 against the Knights in games played during the 2000s. Clarkson is 12-13-4 all-time at Messa Rink, and last won in Schenectady on March 6, 2005 (4-3 in overtime). In their last three games on the Dutchmen’s home ice, the Knights have been outscored 24-5. Last year in Schenectady, Union skated past the Green and Gold 5-2 on January 27, 2012 to extend its unbeaten streak over Clarkson at Messa Rink to nine games (8-0-1), including six consecutive victories at home.
Sam Labrecque and Allan McPherson scored the Clarkson goals in the first meeting this year, and Greg Lewis was solid in the crease with a 27-save effort.
McPherson has a team-high three points against the Dutchmen with one goal and two assists. Labrecque has a team-high two goals in the series. Ben Sexton is the only other current Clarkson player to have scored a goal against the Dutchmen.
Lewis posts a .964 save percentage and a 1.00 GAA against Union. Cody Rosen has seen action in two games of the series, turning aside 20 of 24 Union shots through 35 minutes.
In a heated rivalry which dates back to the 1924-25 campaign, Clarkson leads the overall series against Rensselaer 84-47-8. The Knights have won seven of the last 11 regular-season meetings against RPI. The Engineers, however, are on a two-game win streak overall against the Knights with a 6-2 victory at Cheel on February 9 and a 4-1 win in the third-game of the ECAC playoff series last March in Potsdam.
Clarkson has won the last two meetings in Troy. Last year, the Knights gained a 3-2 victory at Houston Field House on January 28, 2012.
Sam Labrecque has scored a team-high five points (2-3) through six games in the series. Alex Boak has also scored two goals against the Engineers. Adam Pawlick, James Howden, Allan McPherson and Ben Sexton, with the triple OT winner last year, are the only other current Knights to have scored a goal against RPI.
With a 28-save effort in the 4-0 win over Dartmouth at Cheel Arena on Friday, Greg Lewis became the first Clarkson freshman to post two shutouts in a season since Karl Mattson achieved the feat in 1999-2000. Lewis also blanked Yale in New Haven with 22 stops on November 9. Lewis has started 29 games in the Knights’ crease, including all 15 games in 2013. He posts a .901 save percentage and a 2.88 goals against average … In recent weeks Clarkson has struggled in Saturday games after coming off a big Friday night victory. After skating to a 5-1 win at Harvard on January 25 to snap a six-game winless stretch, the Knights fell 5-1 at Dartmouth the following night. Clarkson broke a nine-game losing streak to Union on February 8 by defeating the 18th-ranked Dutchmen 2-1. The next night, however, the Green and Gold lost to Rensselaer 6-2 in Potsdam. This past weekend at Cheel Arena, Clarkson shut out 19th-ranked Dartmouth on Friday, but suffered a 6-2 loss to Harvard on Saturday … Prior to the Harvard game, Clarkson had outscored its opponents 10-3 in the third period over the past seven games. The Crimson outscored the Knights 3-0 over the final 20 minutes to break open a close game … Mike Garlasco tallied his first points since December 2010 with the game-winning goal and one assist in Friday’s win over the Big Green. Garlasco’s goal at 2:11 of the first period was his second career score and first since October 9, 2010 … Alex Boak recoded his fourth career two-point game with a goal and an assist against Dartmouth … Jarrett Burton tallied his second, two-goal game of the season and fourth career multiple-goal game with a pair of tallies against the Big Green. He closed out the win with his third career shorthanded marker … Ben Sexton posted two assists against Dartmouth and scored a power-play marker against Harvard. Sexton, who has been battling injuries, has seven points (1-6) over his past six games … Simon Bessette earned his sixth goal of the season with an unassisted tally for the Knights’ second goal against Harvard … Clarkson is 7-2 when leading through two periods, but just 1-13-2 when trailing entering the third stanza. The Knights are 1-1-5 when tied through 40 minutes.