Potsdam, NY – A goal in the opening minute of the game allowed the 6th ranked Clarkson University Women's Hockey team to manage a split against the 4th/5th ranked University of North Dakota by the final score of 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Cheel Arena.
The win improves the Golden Knights to 13-4-2 (5-2-1 ECAC Hockey) while the loss drops North Dakota to 10-4-2 (7-3-2 WCHA). Clarkson will end the fall semester schedule when they travel to take on the Rochester Institute of Technology in an outdoor game at noon next Saturday.
"Tonight was another great hockey game between two top ten teams," stated Clarkson co-head coach Matt Desrosiers. "There were times where we had to weather some storms as North Dakota put some pressure on us but I thought we did a good job staying composed and doing a lot of the little things needed to get the win. Our players knew how big of a game this was for us and brought a gritty effort tonight. Our staff is proud of the way the team has been playing lately and hope to continue our strong play into the outdoor game next weekend."
Clarkson got on the board almost immediately, as the Knights pressured the North Dakota net and scored 23 seconds into the game. Senior Vanessa Gagnon (St. Constant, QUE) found classmate Brittany Styner (Calgary, ALB) in front of the net. Styner attempted a shot but could not get a clean look and senior Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) was there to put the puck in the net for her 13th goal of the season, giving the Knights the early lead.
Finding themselves with 21 seconds of a five-on-three advantage, the Knights we unable to capitalize on two early North Dakota penalties, but held on to a 1-0 lead.
After sophomore Shelby Amsley-Benzie picked up the victory last night over Clarkson, North Dakota opted to start freshman Lexie Shaw for Saturday's matchup. The Knights tested her early and often, recording five shots in the first four minutes of the game.
A turnover on the defensive end for Clarkson led to multiple shots for North Dakota nine minutes into the game, but senior goaltender Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) stopped one with the body before smothering the puck under her pads on a rebound attempt to keep North Dakota scoreless.
A North Dakota power-play was unsuccessful midway through the first period, in part because Styner blocked a shot from a wide open shooter from the point.
Clarkson's next chance with the extra skater was killed off by North Dakota, but not without multiple chances for the Green and Gold. One shot was deflected and fluttered over multiple sticks before hitting Shaw in the helmet. Another shot bounced over Shaw but went just wide of the net.
Another scoring chance presented itself late in the period as the puck trickled through the crease to freshman Genevieve Bannon (Candiac, QUE), but she could not put it away and the game remained 1-0.
Clarkson outshot North Dakota 8-5 in the first period, including four shots on three power-play attempts.
Senior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) had a breakaway attempt early in the second period as part of a four-on-four, but her shot was turned away by Shaw to keep the Clarkson lead at one goal.
The Knights continued to impress on the penalty kill, as North Dakota was once again stifled by the Clarkson defense with the man advantage. The Knights have killed over 92% of shorthanded situations, only behind Harvard for best mark in the nation.
Adding to that success, the Knights did not allow North Dakota to establish possession of the puck in the attacking zone until 11 seconds remained in the next North Dakota power-play attempt. That penalty was once again killed off by the Green and Gold.
A body-checking penalty drawn by senior Shelby Nisbet (Wiseton, SASK) led to a power-play chance for the Knights, and they took full advantage, as Carly Mercer pass out to sophomore Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) at the blue line. Ambrose found Rattray open to the left of the net and Rattray netted her second goal of the game and team-high 14th of the season.
North Dakota held an 18-12 advantage on shots after two periods, but solid penalty killing kept them off the board and led to a 2-0 Clarkson lead.
North Dakota got on the board at the 6:55 mark in the third period as Susanna Tapini brought the puck into the Clarkson zone and found Amy Menke, who beat Howe to cut the Clarkson lead in half.
Puck possession was dominated by North Dakota throughout much of the third period, and Clarkson was continually finding themselves on the defensive end.
A hooking penalty against North Dakota with less than seven minutes to go allowed the Knights to control play, and although they were unable to score, it slowed down the North Dakota attack.
North Dakota pulled Shaw with 36 seconds to play but could not come through with the six-on-five advantage and the Knights hung on for the victory.
Howe stopped 25 shots to pick up the victory. North Dakota outshot Clarkson 26-17 on the afternoon but failed to score on any of their six power-play attempts.