POTSDAM, N.Y. — Clarkson dominated from the opening faceoff and scored seven goals in two periods to hand RPI its sixth straight loss by a score of 7-1 before a crowd of 3,016 at Clarkson’s Cheel Arena.
The offensive explosion for the Knights matched their highest goal output of the season and moved Clarkson into a tie for sixth place with Brown, just one point out of the final home playoff spot in the ECAC.
Clarkson opened the scoring early when freshman Chris Brekelmans tallied at the 17 second mark of the first. Brekelmans snapped a shot through a screen from the point. RPI netminder Nathan Marsters never saw the shot which beat him to the glove side.
The Golden Knights tallied again six minutes later when freshman Marc Zwicky made a perfect centering pass to Tristan Lush, Lush deflected the pass over Marsters’ shoulder too give the home team a 2-0 advantage just 6:29 into the contest.
The Knights scored again two minutes and thirty-nine seconds later when Mac Faulkner scored his first goal of the season. Faulkner gathered a rebound off a Dave Reid shot and roofed a goal over a hung out to dry Marsters.
“The first goal led to bad bounces,” said RPI head coach Dan Fridgen. “Little mistakes turn into goals, and that leads to more mistakes. We got ourselves behind the eight-ball tonight and couldn’t get out of it.”
RPI settled into a rhythm for the rest of the first but could not generate any scoring chances of its own, being outshot by the Knights 12-7 in the opening frame.
“When teams are capitalizing off of mistakes you need to play similarly and tonight we couldn’t do that,” said Fridgen. “We had times where we attacked with speed and worked the puck down low and then shot the puck wide or over the net. When you are having trouble scoring goals, these things happen.”
All of those things turned on RPI in the second as Clarkson scored four times, including three power-play goals.
True to form with the first period Clarkson notched another goal within the first minute of play as Joe Carosa scored shorthanded 56 seconds in, and the Clarkson rout was on.
Carosa made a nice move to the backhand and fooled a RPI defender and Marsters by lifting a backhand shot top shelf solidifying the Clarkson lead.
Clarkson kept up its consistent play in the second by working the power play to near perfection.
With RPI’s Scott Romfo serving a roughing minor Clarkson captain Kevin O’Flaherty scored his seventh goal of the season, banging home a rebound from a Reid shot from the point.
That goal chased Marsters from the contest and brought in Kevin Kurk.
Clarkson was unfazed by the change in net and scored again on the man advantage. This time with RPI’s C.J. Hanafin sitting for unsportsmanlike conduct Mac Faulkner scored his second goal of the night on a rebound from a Chris Bahen shot.
“Faulkner has worked hard all year, when you work that hard eventually it’s going to pay off,” said Clarkson coach Fred Parker.
Play grew chippy in the waning stages of the second as RPI’s Conrad Barnes drew a five minute spearing major and a game disqualification. Clarkson converted on the major penalty when John Sullivan knocked in another rebound goal high over Kurk, giving the home team a 7-0 advantage at the end of the second.
The only drama left for the third period was if Clarkson’s freshman goaltender Dustin Traylen would pick up his second career shutout. That seemed certain as Traylen stopped two early RPI power plays and made a nice save on redirection by Ben Barr.
However when Clarkson’s Chris Bahen picked up his own spearing major and game disqualification, RPI spoiled the shutout with a power-play goal with 3:23 remaining in the game.
“There is a lot of hockey left to be played,” said Fridgen. “We need to find a leader and tonight maybe we found it in a freshman who scored his first collegiate goal. Tomorrow maybe it’s someone else, but we need to look at the positives and try to pick up some wins.”
“We caught some breaks early on and throughout the game,” said Parker. “We haven’t played consistently all season but if we do, watch out.”