HAMILTON, N.Y. — The majority of the Clarkson roster have never heard the sound of the horn at Starr Rink. With a 1-0 toppling of Colgate on Friday night, the Golden Knights extended their shutout streak in Hamilton to 188 minutes and leap-frogged St. Lawrence for eighth in the ECAC.
Clarkson netminder Dustin Traylen played the role of hero in the contest, turning aside 35 shots while blanking the Raiders. The sophomore recorded his third career shutout and first since November 29, 2003 against Harvard.
“I thought he played outstanding,” said Colgate head coach Stan Moore. “I was really impressed with how he played. He saw everything really well and took up a lot of the net tonight.”
After the game, Traylen credited his defense for providing him the space to see the flurry of Raider shots.
“My defense did a great job,” he said. “There weren’t too many second shots tonight, and that made my job a lot easier.”
The Golden Knights offense came out strong as well, taking their game to Colgate in the opening period. The visitors out-chanced the Raiders, but failed to break a scoreless tie in the opening period. It became clear, however, that Clarkson had arrived ready to play.
“I really felt they had us on the run in the early going,” said Moore. “We were playing ultra-tentative, almost as if we had no place being where we were. Once we got behind we played way too hard and really didn’t do all the little things we needed to do. Our premier players and their premier players clashed, and theirs came out on top tonight.”
Though Clarkson couldn’t grab a 1-0 lead in the first period, they stole it less than a minute into the second. Senior Trevor Edwards burst up the boards shorthanded on an odd-man rush with Golden Knights point leader Mac Faulkner. Instead of dishing the puck, Edwards fired a wrist-shot under the arm of Raider goalie Steve Silverthorn for the game-winning goal.
“We’ve been stressing getting the puck on net in practice,” said Clarkson head coach George Roll. “In so many two-on-ones we don’t even get a shot off, and we’ve tried to be too cute. We’ve talked about just going hard to the net and getting the shot off. Trevor looked the goaltender off and beat him.”
Entering the game with the chance to clinch the first seed in the ECAC playoffs, the Raiders appeared on the defensive. Clarkson’s desperation at climbing into eighth in the conference overwhelmed a lackluster Raider club in the opening 30 minutes of the contest.
“We addressed the issue of their sense of urgency in trying to receive a home seed for the first round and our sense of urgency in establishing ourselves as the first place team outright,” said Moore. “Certainly by virtue of the scoreboard I would presume they had more conviction than we did.”
The Golden Knights also avenged a tough loss suffered at Cheel Arena earlier in the year when Colgate stormed Clarkson 6-1. Friday night’s result drew a smile of satisfaction and payback from Traylen.
“We definitely owed them,” he said. “They kicked our butts earlier in the season at home. We had played a great game against Cornell and had a let-down against Colgate. It feels good especially because they were going for the league title.”
The Raiders tilted the ice towards the Golden Knights net at the end of the second period, generating many prime opportunities and firing 14 shots on Traylen. With less than three minutes remaining in the period Ryan Smyth appeared to have the game tied, but missed an open net.
“I feel a number of our players may have presumed it was going to be a little bit easier once we got back on track,” said Moore. “I saw our players get very upset when Ryan Smyth put a deke on Traylen, beat him easily, and then shovel the puck into the corner. I saw the physical and verbal disappointment of our players and I thought to myself ‘It’s one opportunity missed. Why such anxiety? There’s so much game left to play.’ That’s something we needed to shelf so we could move on and give ourselves other opportunities to score.”
A stingy Clarkson defense refused to provide the home team with more opportunities to score in the third period. A smothering and conservative defense frustrated their opponents by keeping Raider bodies away from the front of the net.
“We did a great job in the third period for the most period of keeping the shots to the perimeter and making the easy plays in our end by chipping it out,” said Roll. “I was extremely pleased with our guys’ effort tonight. They laid it all out there. It’s a big momentum builder for us. We knew from when they played us before that this was going to be a physical game. We knew it was going to be playoff hockey tonight, and our guys withstood the rush and found a way to win on the road.”
The Golden Knights held on to the victory, and thus held on to hopes of a first-round playoff series in Potsdam. A win on Saturday night against Cornell insures Clarkson of home playoff games next week.
“We have to keep the game simple against Cornell,” said Roll. “They’re a big, strong team, and we can’t allow them to cycle the puck on us. If we use the glass to our advantage, don’t let them get any momentum, and keep the shifts short, we should be able to take advantage of our opportunities.”
Colgate still controls its own destiny, though its lead in the ECAC shrank to a lone point. The Raiders can clinch the league regular season crown with a tie against St. Lawrence, but will need a different attitude, according to Moore.
“We need to shift our weight from our heels to our toes and change the way we go into the game tomorrow,” he said.