NIAGARA, N.Y. — Both Clarkson coach George Roll and Niagara coach Dave Burkholder learned something about their respective hockey clubs Saturday afternoon.
Niagara led the game 2-1 in the third period, but then the Golden Knights dominated the rest of the way scoring four goals in a span of 7:15 to pull away from the Purple Eagles, 5-2, and gain a weekend split of the series.
Both teams are now 1-1-0.
“I think we can play with adversity, we can bounce back,” Roll said. “And our young guys can play. We were very happy with our freshman this weekend. I thought they did very well. Certainly, last night was a disappointing effort. But it showed they listen to us. We made some adjustments and they went out an executed. It’s a credit to the players. They played awfully hard. I am happy where we are, even though it was a split.”
For Niagara, it was a disappointment to disintegrate at a critical juncture of the hockey game, but Burkholder liked some things he witnessed.
“A lot of good things happened for us this weekend,” he said. “We got to play some of our young guys. Overall, if you are talking about the two-day weekend, I think we have the makings of a pretty special season here. That being said, we lose the third period 4-0 at home, which was unfortunate. You give them and space and power-play time like they received tonight, it is very tough.”
After Ted Cook scored his third goal of the season and Les Reaney added a goal at 8:55 of the first period, Niagara led 2-0 and had to be thinking sweep. But those thoughts were quickly dashed when Clarkson’s Shea Guthrie scored a power-play goal just 26 seconds later to slice the Niagara lead to 2-1.
The score stayed that until midway through the third period, where Clarkson went on a tidal wave-like roll and overpowered the beleagured Purple Eagles.
Jeff Genovy started the onslaught when he dove to redirect a Michael Grenzy slapshot past Niagara goalkeeper Jeff Van Nyatten to tie the game at two to shift the momentum. Just under two minutes later, Clarkson’s Mike Arciero scored a power-play goal to give the Golden Knights a 3-2 lead.
The game was all but over at that point, but Clarkson received insurance goals from Nick Dodge and David Cayer for the final 5-2 score.
Territorially and score-wise at least, the momentum obviously shifted in the final period as the Golden Knights stormed the fading Purple Eagles in the Niagara zone. But Roll said in reality it actually started earlier.
“I think the biggest thing was the penalty killing in the second period,” he said. “They had so many chances on the power play to get the two-goal lead. It was just a momentum swing and once we got the first one, you could feel the momentum change.”
Clarkson was 2-for-12 on the power play while Niagara was 2-for-10.
Before climbing on the bus for a long and dark ride back to the North Country and Potsdam, Roll seemed pleased with the weekend.
“Niagara is a very good hockey team,” he said. “It’s a good split for us with this young team.”
Before leaving the dressing room to talk with his family, Niagara captain Jason Williamson addressed his teammates.
“We played five good periods this weekend, then we let that third period of the second game slip away,” he said. “We have to learn from that. We have to learn to put teams away. We talked about it as a team. I kind of mentioned it to the guys that we have to learn from that. It is a sixty-minute hockey game. And if we don’t play sixty minutes we will be in trouble.”