POTSDAM, N.Y. — The wintery weather outside didn’t slow down St. Lawrence, as the Saints picked up three goals in the third period and held off a resurgent Clarkson for a 4-2 victory in front of 3,360 fans at Cheel Arena.
“It’s tough to beat [Clarkson] anywhere.” said St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh. “They’re always going to be a good team in [Cheel], not many teams win in here.”
Coming into the game, St. Lawrence (10-8-4, 7-2-3 ECAC) had not beaten Clarkson (11-8-3, 6-4-2 ECAC) at Cheel Arena since December of 1991, the first year the building was open.
“I was really pleased with the way we held our poise. It’s something that we’ve really improved upon over the past month. I thought we played a good solid game. [Clarkson] is a good team, they’re gonna throw some stuff at you, you have to expect it. Our guys didn’t get rattled.”
St. Lawrence started off the game with physical play. The Saints kept the puck in the Clarkson zone, and hit hard. The early work paid dividends for St. Lawrence, as sophomore Blair Clarance picked up his first goal of the game at 7:45 in the first.
With the puck in the Clarkson zone, Robin Carruthers put a shot on net that was saved by goaltender Mike Walsh. But Walsh could not control the bouncing puck, and as he lost control of it, Clarance was there to finish the job, beating Walsh and giving the Saints a 1-0 advantage.
The Golden Knights had a good opportunity late in the period. Jean Desrochers dropped the puck for teammate Murray Kuntz as Desrochers entered the zone. Kuntz then fed the puck back to Desrochers after he had beaten the defender. All alone, Desrochers drove past the net and put a shot at the goal, but goaltender Sean Coakley made a tremendous save to keep Clarkson scoreless.
The second period produced no scoring for either team, but early on in the frame the Saints had a chance to increase their lead. As St. Lawrence was killing off a penalty, Matt Desrochers intercepted the puck and drove down the ice unobstructed. But Desrochers could not finish the breakaway, as the shot was along the ice, and Walsh was able to make a leg save.
In the third period St. Lawrence extended its lead to two goals. With traffic in front of the goal, Carruthers was able to recover a rebound off of Walsh and put it past the netminder to increase the lead just 4:49 into the period.
Clarkson answered the goal less than a minute later when it broke onto the score sheet at 5:16. Rob McFeeters fed the puck to Kevin O’Flaherty, and O’Flaherty skated around Coakley and scored, cutting the lead to one goal.
The Golden Knights stormed their way back into the game when they tied it at the 12:17 mark. Just two seconds after the Saints killed off a penalty, Kerry Ellis-Toddington notched a goal for Clarkson. As the puck was cycled over to Ellis-Toddington on the blue line, he had a clear view at the net and fired a rifle of a shot that ringed off the top crossbar and in.
“We have to weather storms in this building.” said coach Marsh. “We’ve had many of them come our way, we have to learn how to weather it and not get rattled. I thought we had good composure, we reacted pretty well, and fortunately we get a big goal from Allie Skelley.”
Marsh’s team survived the sudden change in conditions, and switched the momentum back in its favor. Within a minute of the score being tied, St. Lawrence would take the lead for good at 13:02. Skelley had the puck at the blue line, and took a shot that weaved its way through traffic and beat Walsh, making it a 3-2 game.
The Saints picked up a breakaway goal just minutes later to end the scoring on the evening. Clarance drove into the zone and shot the puck over Walsh, sealing the victory.
“[St. Lawrence] competed hard, they kept us away from the front of the net.” said Clarkson coach Mark Morris. “We had a tough time just keeping the puck flat on the ice.
“I thought that they were more physical than we were, until the third, but I thought it was too little too late.”
Neither team cashed in on the power-play, as St. Lawrence went 0-for-4 and Clarkson 0-for-6 with the extra man. St. Lawrence leads the league on the power play, scoring on just under 33 percent of their chances, while Clarkson was 5th coming into the contest at just under 25 percent. The Saints outshot the Golden Knights, 31-24.
In the net for the Saints, Coakley made 22 saves, while Walsh turned away 27 shots.
“Sean [Coakley] has got the hot hand right now,” said Marsh. “He’s played extremely well, he’s only given up five goals in the past three games, so that’s certainly getting us back on track since that’s not an area we’ve been particularly good at.”
Both St. Lawrence and Clarkson will be home to host ECAC foes Yale and Princeton. The Princeton game on Saturday against Clarkson is part of the ECAC game of the week package.