POTSDAM, N.Y. — Jay Latulippe’s last-second heroics — literally — helped Clarkson gain a point against second-place Colgate and keep the Golden Knights in a tie with Union for the eighth and final home playoff position with just one game remaining in the regular season.
With Golden Knights goalie Dustin Traylen on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, Clarkson’s sixth skater charged the net and banged home a loose puck to tie the game at 3-3 with just one second remaining in regulation.
“I don’t even know what happened,” said Latulippe. “The puck got on my stick and I shot it. There were four of their guys in the goal, but I guess it hit the mesh.”
Freshman Nick Dodge made the final goal possible with a faceoff win deep in the Raiders’ zone. Dodge’s successful draw was his second in a row, and allowed Clarkson to get the puck in front for the goal-scoring charge.
“Dodge set that up with winning a big draw at the end,” said Clarkson (11-19-3, 7-12-2 ECACHL) coach George Roll. “He got us possession, and that was key for us. We just kept telling our guys to get the puck to the net, and once it was there to crash the net. Give our guys credit for plugging away.”
Latulippe’s goal capped off a two-goal comeback for the Knights, who trailed 3-1 entering the final period. Clarkson has found itself behind by a couple of tallies often this season, and has failed to answer. But the home team chipped away at the Raiders while allowing the visitors only four shots in the final 20 minutes.
“It’s difficult to be down 3-1, but overall I thought we were still in the game,” said Roll. “In the past we’ve allowed the [other] team to get the fourth goal, but tonight we chipped away at it and got the tie.”
Colgate (22-8-3, 14-4-3), which despite the tie moved into second place in the ECACHL ahead of Harvard, still were disappointed. The Raiders entered the game 16-1-0 when leading after two frames.
“It’s disappointing,” said Raider coach Don Vaughan. “We don’t normally give up late goals. We’re a pretty good team with the lead, especially that late in the game. They kept the puck in our end and we couldn’t clear it.”
Colgate built its lead on the back of freshman Tyler Burton, whose two goals pushed his total to 16 on the season, which leads the club.
“He’s a great player,” said Vaughan. “The puck has a way of finding him, and he finishes. He’s a great freshman, and if we had a couple more like that we’d be in good shape.”
Colgate’s Mike Campaner and Clarkson’s Chris Blight also scored in the first period, each on the power play with shots from the blue line.
Clarkson began mounting its comeback five minutes into the third when Mike Sullivan sent a backhand through Colgate goalie Steve Silverthorn’s pads. The Golden Knights could smell a comeback, which would eventually earn them an important league point and their third point out of a possible four against the Raiders.
“We knew that Union was in a battle, and even though we only got a point, we needed that point,” said Roll, whose Golden Knights would win a tiebreaker with the Dutchmen if the two teams ended the season with the same number of points.
“It’s huge,” said Latulippe. “Everyone’s up in the locker room right now. We’re playing playoff hockey, and we just need to carry it through to tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Colgate may have squandered a chance for an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament with another lost point to a struggling team. But the team remains focused on the upcoming ECACHL playoffs.
“We come into every game expecting to win,” said Vaughan. “The way that ended tonight, it feels like a loss. This team has its sights set on getting to Albany, and that loss tonight … it wasn’t a loss, it was a tie … but we’ll learn from it, and we’ll be a better team for it.”
Colgate travels to St. Lawrence Saturday night, while Clarkson hosts Cornell for its Senior Night.