Clarkson completes weekend sweep of St. Lawrence

Clarkson completes weekend sweep of St. Lawrence
POTSDAM, N.Y. – Some excellent work on the penalty kill and three goals in a stretch of just over 11 minutes gave the Clarkson University Women's Hockey team a weekend sweep of St. Lawrence University as the fifth-ranked Golden Knights claimed a 3-1 victory on Saturday afternoon at Cheel Arena.

The Golden Knights moved to 14-4-0 overall and improved to 5-3-0 in ECAC Hockey, while the Saints dropped to 9-10-1 and 4-4-0 in league play. Clarkson will be off for close to a month, returning to action in early January when it takes on Northeastern in the Friendship Four in Belfast, Ireland.

Despite an early deficit in shots, it was St. Lawrence that would get on the scoreboard first as the Saints quickly reversed offensive pressure by the Golden Knights. Clarkson was working the puck around in a reset in the St. Lawrence defensive zone when Rachael Smith put pressure on the Clarkson blue line, poking the puck away for a breakaway. Smith skated in unimpeded and tried to beat Clarkson goalkeeper Kassidy Sauve on her stick side, but Sauve stopped the initial attempt before the rebound was banged back in by Smith at 5:54 for a 1-0 St. Lawrence advantage. The goal marked the Saints' first score against Clarkson in 125 minutes, 54 seconds as the Golden Knights had previously posted back-to-back 4-0 shutouts on October 20th and December 7th.

The Saints would only enjoy the lead for about five minutes, as Clarkson's top line came through at 11:26. Elizabeth Giguere took a shot from a stride or two inside the blue line and Sonjia Shelly made the save, but was unable to maintain the rebound. Loren Gabel collected the loose puck near the goal line extended and skated up to the middle of the circle, taking a shot at the net. Giguere was there to redirect the attempt, tying the game up 1-1.

Less than three minutes later, Clarkson took the lead and would not relinquish it for the rest of the contest. What proved to be the game-winner for Clarkson began with a strong defensive effort. Sauve stopped one shot by the Saints and then Emma Keenan dropped down to block another St. Lawrence attempt. The strategy worked to not only deny an attempt on the Clarkson goal, but the puck was deflected to the stick of Morgan Helgeson. The freshman then tapped a pass forward to Kristy Pidgeon, who skated alongside the left side boards all the way into the St. Lawrence zone. Pidgeon drew the St. Lawrence defense along with her before dropping a centering pass back to Helgeson, who beat Shelly at 14:19.

Although Clarkson trailed in shots 13-6 in the second period, the Knights picked up an insurance goal early in the period when St. Lawrence was called for a tripping penalty. It didn't take long for the Green and Gold to cash in with the extra skater, doing so just five seconds after ensuing faceoff. Michaela Pejzlova won the draw and Gabel collected the puck at the top of the right circle, sending a cross ice pass to Giguere, who had floated out to the far post. Giguere then tipped the puck back to T.T. Cianfarano in the slot, and the grad student finished off the play for her 10th goal of the year at 2:33 in the second period. St. Lawrence would have its chances on a power play late in the period, but the Saints got just one shot on goal while another went wide and a third was blocked before the penalty ran out.

Clarkson was able to maintain its two-goal advantage in the third thanks to some strong specialty teams play. Clarkson was whistled for two penalties in the third, but the first one was ended with just two shot attempts, both which were blocked by Kelly Mariani. The second power play opportunity for St. Lawrence came in the final five minutes, but again the Saints could not get around Clarkson's defense as two shots went wide and two more were blocked by the Golden Knights defenders.

Sauve finished with 26 saves on the afternoon, allowing just the single breakaway goal, while Shelly stopped 27 shots for the Saints. Clarkson possessed a modest 30-27 advantage in shots and went 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Saints were stopped in all four of their extra-skater chances.