SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — With the way Union and Clarkson struggled to score goals during the regular season, it wouldn’t have been shocking to think that the first team to score in their first-round ECACHL tournament series was going to win a game.
In Game 1 Friday night at Messa Rink, that was the case.
After playing to a scoreless tie through regulation, David Cayer took advantage of a turnover and scored with 4:17 left in overtime, giving the Golden Knights a 1-0 win over the Dutchmen.
“It was a lucky play a little bit,” Cayer said. “That’s the beauty of this sport; you get one good chance, you put it in and you just win the game.”
Clarkson (12-20-3) takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. The Knights can wrap up the series Saturday at 7. A Union win forces Game 3 Sunday at 7 p.m.
Union defenseman Chris DiStefano tried to control a bouncing puck at the Dutchmen blue line, but couldn’t. Cayer skated past him, got to the puck and beat goalie Justin Mrazek to end a game that appeared doomed to last all night.
“It was kind of a fluky play,” DiStefano said. “It bounced off my skate, and I couldn’t corral it.”
Cayer’s goal ended a scoreless streak of 140 minutes, 44 seconds for the Knights. The Dutchmen (12-21-2), who have lost 14 straight playoff games, haven’t scored in 142:53.
Union outshot Clarkson, 21-7, over the first two periods. Brian Kerr had Union’s best chance in the second period. He had goalie Dustin Traylen on his back, and had an open net. But Kerr, whose was slightly turned away from the net, slid the puck into Traylen’s pads.
“It was kind of a broken play,” Traylen said. “They shot it towards the net. There was a short rebound, and [Kerr] was standing in the crease and took a second whack. I was able to get my pad over in time.”
The Knights turned it up in the third, and almost scored less than five minutes into the period. Mrazek, getting the start ahead of junior Kris Mayotte, stopped Shawn Weller on backhander in front of the net. The rebound kicked out to Grant Clitsome at the top of the slot, and he had an open net. But his shot was deflected out of play.
“I was fortunate enough to get my toe on [Weller's shot],” Mrazek said. “The puck went back out into the slot. I don’t even know who it was on our team, but he made a great block. That was huge. That was just great defensive zone [coverage], guys paying the price and making plays to keep the puck out of
Although Union outshot Clarkson, 6-5, in OT, Dutchmen coach Nate Leaman wanted to see his teams fire more pucks on net.
“You make your breaks,” Leaman said. “The only thing that I regret a little bit is that I thought we stopped taking our shots in the overtime. Maybe that’s a lack of experience from our team being in this situation. Tomorrow night, we have to make sure we take those shots.”
NOTEBOOK: At 75:43, this was the longest game in Union’s Division I history, eclipsing the 65:42 the Dutchmen played against St. Lawrence on March 11, 2000. The longest game in Union’s overall history is 93:26, coming in the 1984 NCAA tournament semifinal against RIT. … Both teams suffered significant injuries. Union lost forwards A.J. Palkovich and Jason Visser to separated shoulders, and Clarkson defenseman Ken Scuderi had a high ankle sprain. Palkovich and Visser will miss tonight’s game, while Scuderi is
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.