SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — All the effort Union put into getting home ice for the first round of the ECAC hockey tournament was wasted Friday night.
Ninth-seeded Clarkson, which missed out on hosting by one point, felt right at home at Messa Rink at Achilles Center. The Golden Knights used a three-goal second period to rout the eighth-seeded Dutchmen, 8-3, in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.
Clarkson (14-16-5) takes a 1-0 lead in the series. The Knights can advance to the quarterfinals by winning Saturday’s game, which starts at 7 p.m. Union (14-16-5), which got two goals from Jonathan Poirier, went 6-2-1 over its final nine games to get home ice. It has now lost 12 straight playoff games, and needs to snap that streak Saturday to force a third game Sunday at 7 p.m.
“They had a lot more jam than we did,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “They wanted the puck a little bit more than us. We talked all week that this series was going to be won around the net. I know that all eight of their goals were from right around the paint.”
Mac Faulkner had two goals and two assists to lead the Knights, who were playing without captains Tristan Lush and Rob McFeeters. They were sitting out a one-game suspension because the players violated team rules last weekend.
“I don’t think it was [a distraction], obviously, with the way we played,” Clarkson coach George Roll said. “It was something that unfortunately happened. Our guys were focused on the game tonight.”
Chris Blight and Lyon Porter added two goals and an assist each.
“That’s disappointing, but credit to them to come in here the way they did, and play the way that they did,” said goalie Kris Mayotte, who gave up six goals on 20 shots. Clarkson had two shorthanded, empty-net goals in the third period. “They were all over us from the get-go. They kind of took our game plan. They got [the puck] deep, they were all over our `D’ and they kept coming in layers.”
Blight’s power-play goal 8:46 of the first period not only gave Clarkson a 1-0 lead, it also ended Union’s streak of killing off power plays at 27. Matt Vagvolgyi tied it 1:15 later, but Jeff Genovy regained the lead for the Knights late in the period.
Clarkson goalie Dustin Traylen preserved the advantage with 14:41 left in the second period. He made a right-arm save on an A.J. Palkovich breakaway shot.
That save sparked the Knights. Porter made it 3-1 at 8:01, putting in the rebound of a Jamie McKinven shot. With 7:06 left, Jordan Webb turned the puck over to Jean Desrochers in the Union zone. Desrochers sent it to Jay Latulippe, and the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., native put it past Mayotte.
Faulkner worked his way off Sean Streich’s checking and put a pass from Porter past Mayotte 1:25 later.
“Tray keeps us in every single game,” Faulkner said. “When he comes through with a big save like that, it’s our job to come back on the other end and [score].”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.