HAMILTON, N.Y. — With all deference to Vincent Van Gogh, a capacity crowd watched Clarkson and the real Starry Knights take down Colgate 3-1 on Saturday night for their fifth straight victory at Starr Rink.
“I really like it here,” said Clarkson netminder Dustin Traylen. “We just have some karma here. This building’s been good to us. Every time we come here we know we’re playing a good team, so that helps us to play well.”
Dustin Traylen, who entered the game with two consecutive shutouts in Colgate’s barn, worked his Starr Rink voodoo again, turning aside 38 of 39 shots to earn the victory.
“Dustin was the difference tonight,” said Clarkson coach George Roll. “I don’t know what it is about this building, but he plays awfully well in here. He’s got the ability to be one of the top goalies in the league, and tonight he showed it. Hopefully this will give him the confidence to continue with that type of play.”
In fact, the Golden Knights had not allowed the Raiders a single goal in three straight trips to Hamilton, and their neutral-zone trap and solid goalkeeping extended Colgate’s scoreless streak to over 233 minutes before freshman defenseman Matt Torti scored at 5:23 of the third period.
“It was kind of haunting early,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “The first period was almost a mirror image of the last couple of games they played in here. They scored early and then played very strong defensively.”
The Golden Knights capitalized on their first power play of the night after Colgate’s Tyler Burton was penalized for diving. Grant Clitsome’s slapshot from the blue line redirected off a Raider skate and straight to freshman David Cayer, who buried a shot into a wide-open side.
“We got a break, and on the power play he haven’t had too many breaks this season,” said Roll. “It was a lucky goal, but David’s great around the net.”
Clarkson (8-16-2, 4-9-1 ECACHL) frustrated the Colgate (19-7-0, 11-3-0) attack in the early stages of the game, clogging up the middle of the ice and holding the home team to seven weak first-period shots.
“We did that at the end of last year as well,” said Roll. “We did a great job of setting up the trap and not letting them generate speed through the neutral zone. We did it last night against Cornell and had success with it tonight as well.”
Colgate picked up its pace in the second period, outshooting Clarkson 18-7. But the visitors managed to tack on another goal to their lead, as Chris Brekelmans’s long slapshot slipped through traffic and past Colgate goalie Steve Silverthorn.
After Torti broke his team’s scoring curse, the Raiders generated several chances to even the game in the third period. Senior defender Joey Mormina found himself in the slot with a diving Traylen on multiple occasions, but failed to knot the score.
“I know Joey Mormina,” said Traylen. “He’s a friend of mine from back home. He must have had about five or six prime chances to score, so I’ll be all over him for that.”
“It was one of those nights,” said Vaughan. “[Mormina] was putting himself in the position to have those opportunities. He’s a great player and has been one of our most consistent players all year long. It didn’t go in, but we’re certainly not faulting his effort. I really thought that we’d equalize it.”
Jeff Genovy added the finishing touch to the ninth-ranked Raiders, sliding a backhander into Colgate’s empty net with 20 seconds remaining. Clarkson now returns home to host Yale and Princeton, two teams vying for the Golden Knights in an effort to gain home ice in the ECACHL playoffs.
“Getting a win here again against a nationally-ranked team is big, especially going into next week and playing two teams who we’re battling with for position,” said Traylen. “It’s a big momentum builder.”
Meanwhile, Colgate is gearing up for a home-and-home series with Cornell. The two-game set will pit the league’s top two teams in a central New York rivalry already filled with drama.
“It won’t take a whole lot of motivation,” said Vaughan. “We know what’s at stake and who we’re playing. The challenge for us is to contain that a little bit, stay focused, and not get caught up in all that’s around the game.”