LAKE PLACID, NY – For the second straight year the Clarkson University Men's Hockey team faced Harvard University in the ECAC Championship Semifinals, but this time the Golden Knights would not need overtime to defeat the Crimson, as the Green and Gold never trailed in a 5-2 victory at the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.
The Golden Knights, ranked ninth in the country in the latest USCHO.com poll, advance to the ECAC Championship game for the second straight year, and will take on Cornell University at 7:30 on Saturday night. Clarkson improved to 25-10-2 on the year, while the Crimson, who will await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, fell to 19-10-3.
Just like Cornell did in the first semifinal game, the Golden Knights rushed out in front with two goals in the early going. Less than three minutes into the game, the Green and Gold were taking a seemingly harmless draw deep in the Harvard defensive zone when Nico Sturm won the faceoff and flipped it back to Haralds Egle. The junior took little time unleashing a wrist shot over the glove of Harvard goaltender Michael Lackey, going top shelf at the 2:59 mark of the first period.
A little over two minutes later, Clarkson capitalized again on a somewhat disconnected Harvard defense. Near the point,Brian Hurley sent a pass down to Jordan Schneider at the left circle where the junior took a wrist shot which was denied by Lackey. The puck slipped out into the slot for Anthony Callin and the freshman forward did not miss, again going over the shoulder of the Harvard netminder at 5:13.
Clarkson nearly picked up another goal at the 17:30 mark when a shot trickled through Lackey's pads, with the puck just sitting six inches from the goal line, but the Harvard defense saved its goalie by clearing the puck before he backed into it.
The Knights again had multiple chances to start the second period, with Callin taking two shots that were denied by Lackey, including a sprawling save, but the Harvard goaltender's luck ran out later in the period. A back pass from Juho Jokiharju was quickly redirected forward by Aaron Thow to Nick Campoli. The first-year forward made something out of nothing, taking a wrist shot against a one-on-three and finding the back of the net was partially stopped by Lackey but made its way through at the 13:14 mark of the second.
What appeared to be a significant momentum shift in Clarkson's direction was silenced just a minute later when the Crimson finally got on the scoreboard. Adam Fox took a wrist shot from the top of the slot, and the puck looked like it was deflected off a Clarkson player, possibly two, and skipped past Jake Kielly at the 14:13 mark.
At the start of the third period, the Crimson held on to the puck in the Clarkson defensive zone for a long time and the cycles broke through during a change for the Green and Gold as Fox sent a centering pass from the deep corner out to Jack Rathbone, who wristed in a shot from top of the right circle at 1:13.
The Green and Gold did not fold with Harvard starting to put more pressure on the Clarkson defense. In fact, the Knights became opportunistic down the stretch and seemed to pull goals out of soft chances. Midway through the third, Egle centered a pass from the right side boards to Sturm. The junior forward was patient with the puck, bring it all the way into the slot before dropping it off to Jack Jacome, who took a shot which was initially denied by new Harvard goaltender Cameron Gornet. However, Jacome's momentum kept him moving forward and the puck went off his skate, without a kicking motion, and into the net for a deflected goal at 8:08.
The same type of score occurred seven minutes later. John Carter MacLean skated into the Harvard zone and waited forJordan Schneider to emerge in the slot. Schneider patiently waited for his chance, with his wrist shot deflecting off, and breaking the stick, of Harvard's Reilly Walsh. The puck floated over Gornet's head and in at 15:54.
Harvard pulled its goalie for the final 3:44, but the Crimson was unable to capitalize with an extra attacker for the rest of the game.
Clarkson finished with a 31-28 edge in shots and both teams were scoreless on the power play (Harvard 0-for-2, Clarkson 0-for-1). Kielly finished with 26 saves and Lackey (19) and Gornet (7) combined for 26 as well.