SYRACUSE, N.Y. — After a disappointing loss to Cornell the evening before, Clarkson picked up where it had left off last weekend, scoring five goals, including two on the power play, en route to a 5-3 victory over Colgate in the consolation game of the Syracuse Invitational Tournament.
“Each time we lost a little momentum, we seemed to find a way to get another [goal], whereas yesterday we didn’t,” commented coach Mark Morris. “We had a chance last night to distance ourselves from the opposition, and it didn’t happen, but tonight it did. We’re such a young team, and we’re still learning how to win.”
The most crucial momentum swing came in the second period, as one of Clarkson’s young players stepped up to swing the momentum back in the Knights’ favor.
After Colgate had knotted the game at three-all, freshman forward Mike Nagai picked up his first collegiate goal at the 12:34 mark of the second period, just 43 seconds after Colgate’s goal. Nagai took up position on the left side of goaltender Jason LeFevre, and waited as teammate Tristian Lush sent a pass across the ice in front. Nagai had a clean shot at the back of the net, giving the Golden Knights back the lead, 4-3.
“We’ve battled, scraped, and clawed our way back into games, only to give up what I consider a bad goal,” said coach Don Vaughan. “We went back to just playing passively in our own end. Give them credit, they executed, they made a great pass back-door, but we’ve gotta do a better job of making sure that pass doesn’t get there.”
With the exception of being announced as the Niagara Purple Eagles, things could have been worse for Colgate.
Clarkson struck first in the contest, with a goal by defenseman Dave Reid at the 6:44 mark of the first period. As Kent Huskins skated into the Colgate zone with the puck, he faked a shot and skated around a defender to get a better look at the goal. The shot from Huskins was saved by goaltender David Cann, but the rebound found its way out to Reid, who took the shot from the top of the right faceoff circle, and put the puck past Cann to make the score 1-0.
The Golden Knights picked up their second goal minutes later. Chris Bahen fed the puck to Gasper Sekelj in the slot. Sekelj took the shot and beat Cann for a 2-0 Clarkson lead.
After the second Clarkson goal, Colgate pulled Cann out of the game in favor of LeFevre. On the evening, Cann allowed two goals on five shots.
As the period wore on, Clarkson wasn’t playing with the same tenacity as in the first minutes of the period. With the door open, Colgate was able to pick up its first goal of the game at the 14:45 mark.
Kyle Doyle had the puck behind goaltender Shawn Grant, and passed it to teammate Etienne Morin in front. With both the puck and the opportunity to score, Morin took the shot and beat Grant, making it a 2-1 game.
The second period began for Clarkson as it left off in the first: on the power play. Clarkson wasted little time, and just 26 seconds into the period, Murray Kuntz picked up his first goal of the game. Huskins passed the puck in front of the net to Kuntz, and Kuntz lifted the puck over LeFevre, a power-play goal that increased the lead to 3-1.
Colgate didn’t roll over and die, but began to mount a comeback.
2:12 into the second period, P.J. Yedon received a pass from Scooter Smith at the blue line, skated in along the boards, and took the shot that beat Grant right-side along the ice, cutting the lead to 3-2.
At the 10:04 mark, Reid went off the ice on a tripping penalty, and Colgate used the man advantage to pick up its third goal of the game as Sean Nolan redirected a shot from teammate Dan Stay to even the contest at three. However, the lead did not last, as just 43 seconds later Clarkson regained the lead for good on Nagai’s goal.
In the third period, Golden Knight fans got a scare when Shawn Grant went down on the ice. Colgate’s Paul Kelley skated into the Clarkson zone, and was unable to stop as he upended Grant and went into the net. Grant went down hard on the ice and looked to be in pain. Fortunately for Clarkson, Grant was fine, and he finished the game without incident.
Clarkson picked up their fifth goal of the game at the 8:22 mark of the third, as Kuntz got his second goal of the game. David Evans fed the puck to Kuntz, who was waiting at the doorstep of the goal. Kuntz had an open look at the goal, and beat LeFevre before he could close the hole, a power-play goal sealing the game at 5-3.
Both teams resume league play next weekend, as Colgate hosts Princeton and Yale, while Clarkson hosts Brown and Harvard.