POTSDAM, N.Y. — Sophomore Tristan Lush and freshman Chris Blight each had a goal as Clarkson edged out Yale, 2-1, in a gritty defensive effort by both teams Saturday evening at Cheel Arena.
“I think it really was an excellent hockey game,” said Yale head coach Tim Taylor afterwards. “It was very hard for anyone to get odd-man rushes, it was very difficult to get good shots in the slot. It was hard for us to find room in their end, and hopefully we made it a little hard for them to find room in our end.”
The two teams battled for control, as neither could get any scoring opportunities going early. Only one penalty was called during the period, an obstruction-interference call against Joe Carosa of Clarkson. The mistake gave Yale a chance to take the lead, but the Bulldogs could not capitalize.
The Golden Knights (4-2-1, 3-0-0 ECAC) finally broke the scoreless tie at 19:36 with an unassisted effort by the previous evening’s hero, Lush.
Lush had the puck down in the right corner of the Yale zone. He skated towards net and took a wrist shot. The puck somehow managed to go between goaltender Dan Lombard and the goal post, finding a home in the back of the net and giving Clarkson the lead.
Clarkson carried some of the momentum it had gained from the first period with it into the second, when Yale was whistled early for holding, but the Golden Knights were unable to convert. Momentum shifted in Yale’s favor, as the Bulldogs had multiple opportunities in front of Clarkson goaltender Mike Walsh that either drifted wide or were saved.
There were some scary moments for Clarkson, as Zach Schwan left the game gripping his left wrist, and Chris Line was helped off the ice after receiving a hit. However, both skaters would return to the game later.
Near the end of the period, the flow of the game shifted back to the Golden Knights, as Clarkson forced Lombard to make a few acrobatic saves. Things got heated when the period ended, with Spencer Rodgers of Yale and Jay Latulippe for Clarkson both served penalties for roughing, but the score remained the same.
Opportunities that seemed to be passing the Golden Knights by earlier finally, paid off in the latter minutes of the third. Freshman Ken Scuderi brought the puck into the Bulldogs zone along the left side and fired a shot at net. Lombard was five feet out of the crease to make another save, but the rebound ricochet out to Chris Blight. With lightening speed, Blight sent the puck back at Lombard, beating the netminder at 17:12.
“The big goal, as it turns out, was the second goal,” said Taylor. “They got it by getting the puck to the net, driving the net for the rebound. That’s something Clarkson does very well and its something we have to do a little better.”
Yale didn’t go as quietly as the Golden Knights would have liked. Late in the game Chris Bahen of Clarkson was sent to the box for cross-checking, and the Bulldogs ended their goal-scoring drought at Cheel Arena when Jeff Dwyer picked up his first of the season at 18:58.
Yale was unable, however, to score another goal with the extra attacker.
“I’m proud of the way our guys competed,” said Taylor. “I thought we had our moments of pressure, we had our opportunities, we had sustained pressure on our power plays. I’m proud of our overall weekend effort.”
Coming into tonight’s contest, Yale had not scored a goal in 223:11 of play, and the last time the Bulldogs had won in Cheel was four years ago.
Lombard ended the evening with 23 saves and two goals allowed, while Walsh stopped the same amount of shots and only allowed one goal. The contest was for the most part a clean one, each team only getting three man-advantage opportunities, and Yale cashed in on their final one.
“Mike played with a lot of confidence,” said Clarkson coach Mark Morris. “Our goalie coach and Mike had a good talk this afternoon, and he got him squared away. He looked like the Walsh we knew from last year.”
Even without the services of Kerry Ellis-Toddington and Kevin O’Flaherty because of game disqualifications, and numerous other players with injuries, the Golden Knights were able scratch out a win.
“That was just a real gutsy effort,” said Morris. “Our guys rose to the occasion. After a tentative first period, we geared up in the second, and played quite well. Considering who is out of the lineup, I couldn’t be prouder of the effort we had tonight. Our guys worked their tails off, and we got timely goals.”
Next week Yale will host Boston College on Tuesday, and finish up the week by hosting ECAC foes Dartmouth and Vermont, while Clarkson will travel to Colorado to face Colorado College.