Goals come early and late as Clarkson takes down No. 6 Princeton

Goals come early and late as Clarkson takes down No. 6 Princeton

POTSDAM, NY – Two goals in the first 73 seconds of the opening period and two more in the final 80 seconds of the third period were enough for the Clarkson University Women's Hockey team, as the Golden Knights picked up a win against Princeton, downing the Tigers 5-2 Friday night at Cheel Arena.

The Golden Knights, ranked fifth in the latest USCHO.com poll, improved to 25-7-1 overall and 16-5-0 in ECAC Hockey play, while the Tigers, sixth in the most recent poll, fell to 18-5-5 and 15-3-3. Clarkson will close out the regular season tomorrow afternoon against Quinnipiac, a potential first-round playoff match up for the Knights.

The crowd was barely settled into their seats before the nation's second-best scoring offense got to work, scoring twice on its first two shots. The first goal of the contest came just 40 seconds in when Loren Gabel, one of the 10 Patty Kazmaier Finalists, recorded her 34th goal of the year. Elizabeth Giguere fought for a bounding puck with a Princeton player near the boards, with the puck bouncing out to the stick of Josiane Pozzebon. The senior defenseman then carried the puck through center ice and send a pass through the neutral zone to Gabel, who took a few strides and wristed a shot from the top of the circle. The puck ripped past Princeton goalkeeper Rachel McQuigge's glove at the 40-second mark to put the Knights up 1-0.

As the announcement for Gabel's goal was being made, Clarkson scored again thanks to some miscommunication behind the net and a dogged effort by Cassidy Vinkle. Princeton was looking to collect the puck behind the net when McQuigge and a defenseman had a little indecision, and Vinkle took advantage on her continuing rush, gaining possession of the puck and quickly wrapping a shot into the still mostly unguarded net at the 1:13 mark.

After Clarkson dominated a power play about two minutes later, holding possession in the Princeton zone for more than 90 seconds, the two teams played essentially even for the rest of the period. Clarkson almost picked up a third goal in the period, but a two-on-one featuring Giguere and Gabel failed to totally connect as Gabel's attempt went just wide of the net and Giguere's attempt at a wrap around on the rebound was stopped by McQuigge.

Though the Knights came up short of a third score in the first period, they took just 29 seconds to record that tally in the second period. Just a few seconds after a faceoff in the Princeton defensive zone, Elizabeth Giguere swiped the puck away along the boards and dropped a pass down to Gabel who was standing at the bottom of the right circle. Gabel then flipped a pass through the slot to an open Michaela Pejzlova, and the junior center did the rest, beating McQuigge.

Princeton made a goalie change immediately after the Knights' third goal and kept the Clarkson offense in check for the rest of frame, finally picking up a goal at the other end. Clarkson had a few chances to clear the zone on this specific offensive opportunity for the Tigers, but Princeton was able to keep the pressure on. Mariah Keopple took a shot from the point and her attempt was redirected by Carly Bullock at 15:44, making the score 3-1. Stephanie Sucharda was awarded an assist for tipping the puck out to Keopple.

After some aggressive plays were ignored in the second period, the officials began to call a much tighter game at the start of the third period. The change took the Knights by surprise, as they went from being on the power play to trying to kill off a 5-on-3. Although Kassidy Sauve made some fine stops, eventually the Tigers were able to take advantage of the mismatch with Maggie Connors finishing of a pass from Karlie Lund, with an assist also going to Sarah Fillier.

The two teams skated openly without many stoppages after the Princeton goal as neither team could get much going in the way of scoring opportunities. The Knights nearly picked up a goal with a little under six minutes to go when Giguere created a chance for Clarkson, but it was not until the waning moments of the game that the Knights would put the game out of reach.

Princeton pulled its goalie for the extra skater with less than two minutes to go and the Knights took advantage. After a scrum in front of the Clarkson goal, the Knights' Kelly Marianigained possession of the puck and scooted a pass up to T.T. Cianfarano. From there the graduate student outskated the Princeton defense and got close enough to take a shot, firing one from a stride or two inside the blue line and finding the center of the net at 18:40. With the goalie still out for the Tigers, Clarkson tacked on another insurance goal as Top-10 Patty Kazmaier Finalist Elizabeth Giguere outskated two Princeton defenders to the puck and flipped in a shot from a tough angle at the bottom of the circle at the 19:10 mark, putting the Knights up 5-2.

Princeton finished with small 29-26 edge in shots, going 1-for-3 on the power play while the Knights were 0-for-4 in their extra-skater chances. Sauve made 27 saves for Clarkson, while Neatby finished with 13 stops in two periods of relief of McQuigge, who made eight saves in 20:29.