POTSDAM, N.Y. — Junior goaltender David Leggio completed a stellar weekend in goal for Clarkson with a 37-save effort on Saturday night as the Golden Knights knocked defending ECACHL tournament champion Harvard out of the playoffs by winning the second game of their quarterfinal series, 2-1 before 2,902 fans at Cheel Arena.
Clarkson, which defeated Harvard 3-0 on Friday night, advances to Albany for the conference’s tournament championship round for the first time since 2004.
The second-seeded Golden Knights, ranked fifth in the nation with a 23-8-5 overall record, will face third-seeded Dartmouth (18-10-3) in the semifinals at the Times Union Center on Friday. Number-one seed St. Lawrence (22-12-2) and fifth-seeded Quinnipiac (20-13-5) will play in the other semifinal contest.
“I think it always gives you confidence when you have someone behind you like David Leggio,” said Clarkson associate coach Greg Drechsel. “He clearly was the difference this weekend. Their guy played pretty well also. You have to give him credit. But David has been special for us this year.
“I thought we played extremely well early on. We hemmed them in for long periods. The shot clock did not work in our favor, but I think possession wise and time in the zone, we were equally as good as they were.”
Mike Sullivan broke a 1-1 deadlock late in the third period when he finished off a pass from Clarkson’s leading playmaker, junior David Cayer, for the game-winner.
Cayer, who picked up his second assist of the game and team-high 25th of the year, slipped a pass from behind the net to Sullivan in front, where the senior knocked in his eighth goal of the season with 3:41 remaining.
Both teams came out strong to start the first, and Clarkson’s effort paid off when junior defenseman Grant Clitsome connected on the power play for his seventh goal of the season.
With three seconds left in the Knights’ second man-advantage of the period, Clitsome fired a shot from the top of the left circle that found its way through traffic in front and into the back of the net at 13:51. Juniors Shawn Weller and Cayer assisted.
In a fast-paced second period, both teams generated several excellent scoring opportunities, but Leggio and Crimson senior Justin Tobe each came through with several big stops.
Harvard finally solved Leggio late in the middle frame with a power-play tally. Junior Mike Taylor tucked in a shot at the near post to tie the game at 14:12 on his 10th goal of the season. Senior Ryan Maki and freshman Doug Rogers assisted.
Harvard had an opportunity to take the lead late in the middle frame with a penalty shot at 16:14. Leggio, however, came up big once again when he gloved Taylor’s shot from in close to keep the score 1-1 through 40 minutes.
Seventh-seeded Harvard closes out its season with a 14-17-2 overall record.