LAKE PLACID - For the second time in less than a week, Clarkson's hockey team took down its rival from St. Lawrence.
On Dec. 8 at the Olympic Center, the Knights erased a one-goal deficit to claim a 3-1 Festivus Faceoff victory over the Saints in front of 5,000 fans who appeared equally clad in the scarlet and brown and green and gold colors of their favorite college hockey teams.
It marked the third time in as many years the two rivals have squared off in Lake Placid in NCAA Division I men's college hockey action. Clarkson won here two years ago in overtime and St. Lawrence captured the victory in December 2011.
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
Clarkson University freshman goalie Greg Lewis covers the net and teammate Alex Boak helps defend as St. Lawrence’s Jeremy Wick applies pressure during their Dec. 8 game at the Olympic Center’s 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.
The Saints were looking for the 1,000th win in their school's history, and got on the board first when sophomore Gunner Hughes tipped in a shot taken by defenseman Pat Raley for a 1-0 St. Lawrence edge 2:01 into the second period.
Clarkson netted the next three goals, including two in the middle frame to notch a second win over its rival in a span of four days.
Although the game was not an ECAC league matchup, second-year Clarkson head coach Casey Jones said the win was big for his Knights, who started the season at 0-5-3 but have since improved to 4-7-5 overall.
"This wasn't a league game but it was a really important one," Jones said. "Last year, we didn't have a good game in this building," Jones said. "We wanted to give our fans something to cheer about. We wanted to make up for our performance.
"We've come a long way in the past month, month and a half," added Jones, whose team has just four seniors on the roster. "Last weekend, we had two tough losses to Cornell and Colgate, and we've been able to rebound from that. We're heading in the right direction. Tonight, we were opportunistic, burying our chances."
Freshman goalie Greg Lewis was solid in net for Clarskon. He made 25 saves, including 19 during the final two periods in a game that saw both teams put 26 shots on goal. Matt Weninger, a junior, finished with 23 saves for the Saints, who are now 7-7-2 overall.
"Our positive was we had no problem getting a lot of pucks to the net," said Saints head coach Greg Carvel. "We created enough chances but we couldn't bury the puck, and their goalie played well. We made mistakes with the puck, and I thought that was the biggest difference in the game."
Trailing 1-0, Clarkson evened the score at the 4:54 mark of the second period when Simon Bessette, a fourth-line freshman, poked home a rebound with Sam Labrecque assisting on the play. Jeff DiNallo, another freshman, then put the Knights ahead for good when he buried a puck at the 14:55 mark of the period, scoring from the slot after taking a feed from Todd Christian.
Jarrett Burton, a junior from Echo Bay, Ontario, clinched the win for Clarkson, scoring a breakaway goal midway through the third period that put the Knights up 3-1 at the time.
The Saints pressed hard and controlled the puck with an extra attacker on the ice during entire final 2:40 of the game. but came away with only a shot that bounced off the crossbar to show for their efforts.
Mac Stratford, a senior Saints defender from Bloomingdale, said the loss was disappointing but added he still relished the opportunity to play on familiar ice in front of his family and friends.
"The tables were turned," Stratford said. "We had a lot of chances, we just couldn't cash in. As a senior, it was especially disappointing losing this game, but it was still great being here. Being able to play in this historic Herb Brooks Arena is an opportunity that doesn't come around for very many players in their college hockey careers. It was just unfortunate that we didn't come out with a win."