A dominant start to postseason led to a 7-4 victory for Clarkson University Hockey over Rensselaer in Game 1 in an ECAC Hockey best-of-three first-round series at Cheel Arena on Friday night.
The Golden Knights (16-14-5) and Engineers (8-27-1) will face off in Game 2 on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. A Clarkson win will clinch the series for the Green and Gold. If RPI wins, the teams will meet again on Sunday in the deciding third game.
Clarkson controlled play for the first 40 minutes outshooting Rensselaer 24-10 in the first two periods en route to a 6-1 lead. Penalty trouble by the Knights in the third period gave the league's top power play an opportunity to get back in the contest as the Engineers, who scored three times in the final frame, went 2-of-6 on the man-advantage over the final 20 minutes.
The Knights scored a season-high three power-play goals, on four opportunities. RPI was 3-of-9 with the man-advantage.
Clarkson received a big effort from a trio of veterans as the Knights equaled their season high for goals. Senior left wing Troy Josephs (Whitby, ONT) scored two goals (for his second straight two-goal outing) and two assists, junior center Sam Vigneault(Baie-Comeau, QUE) tallied one goal and two assists and senior defenseman James de Haas (Mississauga, ONT) set up three goals.
Freshman Sheldon Rempal (Calgary, ALB) recorded his first career two-goal game.
Postgame audio Head Coach Casey Jones
The Knights' leading scorer Vigneault opened the scoring at 7:05, knocking in a rebound off a shot by de Haas at the top of the crease. Josephs also assisted.
Rempal was credited with Clarkson's second goal, redirecting a shot by rookie defenseman Greg Moro (Edmonton, ALB) off the skate of an RPI defenseman that trickled over the goal line at 12:35.
Clarkson made quick work on the first power play of the game, scoring just 31 seconds into the man-advantage. Josephs connected at the backdoor after taking a cross-crease pass from freshman Haralds Egle (Liepaia, Latvia) at 16:49. Vigneault picked up the second assist.
The Knights did not let up in the middle frame and tacked on three more goals to take a commanding 6-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Rempal scored his second of the night, unassisted, after picking up an RPI clearing attempt off the right boards. He skated behind and out front of the Engineers' net and sent in a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle for his 10th goal of the season.
Another quick strike on the power play gave the Green and Gold a 5-1 advantage. Josephs tallied his team-high 17th goal of the season at 10:11, just 39 seconds into the Knights' second power play of the night. Vigneault picked up his team-leading 36th point of the season with the primary assist. Egle also set up the goal for his second assist of the game.
RPI got on the scoreboard with its own power-play tally as Viktor Liljegren connected at 11:11.
The Knights regained the five-goal advantage when senior Perry D'Arrisso (Mississauga, ONT) scored his fourth goal of the season on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle with 1:32 remaining in the period. de Haas forced a turnover in the Engineers' zone to create D'Arrisso's scoring opportunity, recording his second assist of the game and his 11th point over the past eight games.
Jake Marrello and Jared Wilson scored in the first 10 minutes of the third period to cut the Clarkson lead to 6-3.
Junior defenseman Kelly Summers (Golden Lake, ONT) tallied a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 13:39 to give Clarkson back its four-goal advantage.
The Engineers' Liljegren scored on the man-advantage for the game's last goal with 1:45 remaining.
Freshman Jake Kielly (Eden Prairie, MN) made 26 saves to record his 14th win of the season. Chase Perry posted 24 stops for the visitors.