POTSDAM, N.Y. — Junior goaltender David Leggio made 27 saves to backstop number-two seed Clarkson to a 3-0 victory over seventh-seeded Harvard in the first game of their ECACHL quarterfinal series Friday night before 2,383 fans at Cheel Arena.
The Golden Knights (22-8-5), ranked fourth in the nation, and the Crimson (14-16-2) will face off again on Saturday. If Clarkson wins, the Knights will advance to Albany next weekend for the league’s championship tournament at the Times Union Center . If Harvard wins, the teams will play a deciding third game on Sunday with the winner advancing.
Leggio, who closed out the regular season as one of the leading goaltenders in the ECACHL, was on top of his game to start the playoffs for the Knights. He was especially sharp in the second period, when he equaled a season-high for saves in a period, making 18 stops en route to his second shutout of the season and third of his career.
“I thought we looked sluggish tonight,” said Clarkson head coach George Roll. “The first two periods we did not have our legs underneath us. I thought David (Leggio) kept us in the game. He was very good tonight. In the third period, I thought we did a real good job of playing smart hockey, good defensively and we took advantage of the one chance we had.
“I thought our fourth line might have been our best line. Brodie (Rutherglen), Max (Kolu) and Willie (Mike Willemsen) played very well together and got that first goal. Harvard played very well tonight and generated some good opportunities. We are going to have to be better tomorrow.”
Both teams appeared out of sync in a scoreless first period. The Knights, playing for the first time since February 24, held a 6-3 advantage on shots, but could not sustain any pressure despite three power-plays in the stanza.
Clarkson’s best opportunity came six minutes in, when junior David Cayer picked up a loose puck in front of the Crimson crease but fired the shot just wide from point-blank range.
Harvard controlled the second frame, outshooting the Knights 18-7, but Clarkson came away with the lone goal midway through the period.
Senior Max Kolu picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated into the Harvard end on a quick rush. His shot from in close was stopped by Crimson senior goaltender Justin Tobe, but senior Brodie Rutherglen was able to poke in the rebound for his seventh goal of the season at 10:25.
Clarkson gained some breathing room late in the third frame when junior captain Nick Dodge tallied on the power play off assists from classmates Shawn Weller and Cayer at 14:09 for his 17th goal of the season.
Weller sealed the Knights’ third win of the season over the Crimson with an empty-net tally, his 17th goal of the year, with 28 seconds left. Dodge picked up the assist for his 96th career point (39-57).
Harvard outshot Clarkson 27-21. Tobe posted 18 saves for the Crimson. The Knights went 1-for-5 on the power play, while Harvard was scoreless in three man-advantage opportunities.