POTSDAM, N.Y. — For Clarkson fans, the Golden Knights’ 4-1 Friday win over the Catamounts was long overdue.
In a game in which Clarkson’s top two scores were absent due to disqualifications, the Golden Knights (14-13-6, 10-6-5 ECAC) saw strong performances all around, as senior David Evans led the way, picking up a goal and two assists.
“Anytime you have your top two scorers out, someone has to score for you,” said Evans. “I think that Jean Desrochers and Chris Blight had a great game. I think that having two players that play in every situation during the game, and that when they’re not playing it gives other guys a chance to play in roles they aren’t use to.”
The first period saw an offensive surge by the Golden Knights, with quality shots coming from the perimeter and low in front of the net. However, Catamount goaltender Shawn Conschafter made some impressive saves, including a set midway through the frame where Conschafter was without his stick and still able to keep the puck out of the net. Vermont had good opportunities from its power-play unit, but at the end of the first the game was still scoreless.
As the game progressed into the second it looked as if it would end the same as it had started. Desrochers changed that when he picked up his third goal of the season at 10:47.
A penalty to Steve Dusich put Clarkson on the power play at 9:17. With the puck low behind the Catamount net, Evans passed the puck to Desrochers, who was standing on the doorstep to the left of Conschafter. Before Conschafter could recover, Desrochers snapped the puck into the net, giving the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead.
Clarkson’s second goal came only a few moments later. At 11:15 Chris Line sent a pass from the left side to Evans in the slot, and Evans one-timed it past Conschafter, putting Clarkson up 2-0.
Vermont got on the scoreboard late in the period when Scott Mifsud ended Clarkson netminder Mike Walsh’s clean sheet. As a Clarkson penalty expired, Patrick Sharp fired a shot that Walsh jumped out to save. The puck went wide of the net and bounced back out to Mifsud, who had an empty goal to shoot at, cutting the Golden Knight lead to 2-1 at 18:56.
The response to the Catamount goal was quick and painful. Within ten seconds of the Vermont goal, Zach Schwan took a centering pass from Desrochers and beat Conschafter in the slot at 19:06.
Clarkson sealed matters in the final frame. Jason Fortin of Vermont received a five-minute major for a high stick, and the Golden Knights used the extra attacker to secure their second power-play goal on the evening.
Blight had the puck low on the right side of Conschafter. Blight shot the puck twice, but both times the junior netminder made the save. Conschafter could not control the rebound on the second attempt, as the puck bounced away to the other side of the goal, where Randy Jones was all alone. Jones’ attempt went unobstructed into the net, giving the Golden Knights the 4-1 win.
“We had a real strong effort, especially from the midpoint on,” said Clarkson head coach Mark Morris. “Our guys were real strong on the puck. We were physical, and territorially we seemed to have the upper hand.”
Walsh stopped 28 shots and allowed only one goal for Clarkson, while Conschafter made 36 saves and allowed four goals. The Golden Knights went 2-for-9 on the power-play for the evening, while Vermont, having strong man-advantage opportunities, was unable to convert on its five chances.
“We had a good first, but we had two big mistakes in the second, and (Clarkson) capitalized,” said Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan. “Overall we took some unnecessary penalties. I think they played with a lot more poise, and that’s the reason they won.”
Clarkson clinched home ice for the upcoming ECAC playoffs for the 14th straight year, as Brown, Colgate, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Rensselaer all lost. The Golden Knights will finish off the regular season Saturday against Dartmouth, while the Catamounts will look to finish strong against St. Lawrence.