BURLINGTON, Vt. — Clarkson battled back from two one-goal deficits to pull out a come-from-behind victory, 3-2, over Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse Saturday.
Golden Knights freshman Nick Dodge scored his second goal of the game with 5:26 to play, helping Clarkson extend its season-best winning streak to four games. The loss for the Catamounts combined with a Dartmouth win — 6-2 against St. Lawrence — moves the Big Green into a tie for fourth with the Cats, the final first-round bye in the ECACHL playoffs with five games remaining.
With the game tied at two, Dodge ripped a perfectly placed shot over the shoulder of Vermont goalie Travis Russell (14 saves). He was assisted by David Cayer and Jay Latulippe. The line paced the Knights, tallying seven points for the night.
Vermont wasted no time getting on the scoreboard only eight seconds into the contest. Jaime Sifers found Jeff Corey just off the opening faceoff. Corey took a soft shot that somehow found its way behind Clarkson netminder Dustin Traylen. The goal was the third fastest to open a game in ECACHL history.
But as quickly as Corey’s 14th goal of the season injected life into the sold-out crowd, the euphoria of the Catamount faithful was just as swiftly sucked right out again as Clarkson Dodge popped in the rebound of a Jay Latulippe blast from above the left faceoff circle to knot it at one just 1:16 later. That’ s the way the score stayed through twenty minutes.
Vermont controlled the play in the second, peppering Clarkson goalie Dustin Traylen (28 saves) with ten shots to Clarkson’s one. Traylen, ECACHL Goaltender of the Week for his work last weekend helping the Knights to their first sweep since early 2003, stood tall until late in the period. Torrey Mitchell, the ECACHL’s leading rookie scorer, potted his 11th, a rocket that just sneaked through Traylen’s pads.
Mitchell won a faceoff in the Vermont end gave it Corey who carried it down the left wing side before connecting back up with Mitchell cutting to the net to retake the lead 2-1, late in the period.
The Cats were whistled for a series of three consecutive penalties in the closing seconds of the second and into the third. UVM successfully killed the first two, but on the third go-around, everything clicked for Clarkson. The Knights put a tremendous amount of pressure on the Vermont penalty killers, and it finally paid off, when Mac Faulkner cleaned up a rebound at 9:22 of the period.
“Special-teams breakdown,” Sifers said of the third period. “We gotta stay out of the box, keep our composure. Penalty killing is something a great team needs to master.”
Clarkson was one-for-five with the man advantage, while Vermont was held scoreless in four opportunities on the power play.
The Cats seemed to have scored the equalizer with Russell out of the net with :14 left, but referee John Murphy, who had arrived late to the game due to travel problems and officiated less than half the game, ruled that a Vermont skater had been in the crease before the puck. No goal.
“Give credit to Clarkson,” Vermont coach Sneddon said. “I thought they played a heck of a third period. I’m disappointed that we gave up the lead. We were 13-0-0 when playing with the lead after two periods, and we let them back in the game after playing a near-perfect second period.”
Said Clarkson coach George Roll: “It was a good effort on our part, to come into this building and get a win.”
When the buzzer sounded, fans showered the ice with debris, and booed the officials mercilessly.
Sneddon disputed Murphy’s call, saying the puck entered the crease before his players skated into the paint. He didn’t mince words afterward when asked about the officiating.
“I’m sick to my stomach right now for our kids because they battle hard,” he said. “That goal was a goal, and it’s inexcusable … Our kids deserve better than that. Plain and simple.”
Clarkson (11-16-2, 7-9-1, tied-7th place ECACHL) will try to continue its late-season charge up the standings at Dartmouth Saturday, while Vermont (15-11-3, 9-6-2) hopes to right the ship against St. Lawrence.