COLUMBUS, Ohio — It has been a long time since the Clarkson Golden Knights have had that winning feeling: 56 days to be exact.
But in the opening round of the fifth annual Ohio Hockey Classic, the Golden Knights defeated the second-ranked Miami RedHawks, 4-2, in front of a pro-Miami crowd in Ohio State’s home arena.
Clarkson got just its third win of the season and the Golden Knights’ first since Nov. 7 against Brown. The RedHawks lost their first game since going into the holiday break with an eight-game winning streak. Miami did manage to outshoot Clarkson 42-19.
There is such a battle when you’re two and 10 and it is such a battle emotionally and psychologically — guys will tell you it is like a monkey on our backs, Clarkson coach George Roll said. When you get a chance to beat a great hockey club on the road — this is the seniors’ third time playing these guys, every game we have played well and that gave us some confidence.
We don’t look at NHL prospects, we don’t look at records, we want to play the best we can and tonight they were two goals better than us . . . we respect everybody, Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. Part of it is respecting what we do as well.
The first period was dominated by Clarkson freshman goaltender Paul Karpowich, who stopped all of Miami’s 15 shots. He made two huge saves during a RedHawk power play midway through the first. Justin Mercier first tried to find Karpopwich’s five-hole but the goaltender quickly closed his pads. Just a minute later, Justin Vaive attempted to slip in a one-timer from Tommy Wingels, but the goalie kicked the puck away with his stick-side pad.
The Golden Knights grabbed the lead just 1:39 into the game on their first shot of the game. Nick Tremblay skated down the left side of the ice and found forward Shea Guthrie, whose backhander beat the stick of Miami freshman goalie Cody Reichard. This was the first time that the RedHawks had trailed in a game in a 469-minute span.
Miami nearly found the back of the net in the final minute of the period when RedHawk defenseman Kevin Roeder sent a cross-crease pass to forward Gary Steffes, but his shot glanced off the post.
I thought we played fairly well in the first period, Blasi said. We had a couple breakaways in the first period, and their goaltender came up big. Anytime you get 42 shots on net, the process to that point was pretty good. We just didn’t execute in front of the net.
I thought the first period, [Miami] was obviously the better club and I thought our goaltender gave us a chance to win the game, Roll said. You could tell right from the start that [Karpowich] was on his game tonight. Especially with a young team and young goaltender, when he makes plays like that, it gives us confidence.
Said Guthrie, A lot of times this year in the losses and games we’ve tied, we have gotten down early and it hurts our confidence. I think getting that goal helped and we kept chipping and didn’t give them anything after the first period.
Miami tied the game when sophomore Carter Camper scored his team-leading 12th goal 8:44 into the second period on a 4-on-3 power play. The play was under extensive review by referee Bruce Vida as a Clarkson player knocked the puck off position, but the goal withstood the review.
The Golden Knights recaptured the lead less than five minutes later on their first full power play of the game when Julien Cayer received a cross-crease pass kicked to him from Brandon DeFazio.
Clarkson would get two early third-period goals. The first one came at 1:28 from Bryan Rufenach while on the power play. The second from DeFazio just 2:28 later gave the Golden Knights a 4-1 lead.
Miami made it a 4-2 game when Vaive had a hard slapper beat the glove of Karpowich. Down by two, Miami committed a costly penalty with 1:53 remaining on a Justin Vaive penalty. The Golden Knights were outshot 20-7 in the game’s final period.
This is the first time that Miami has not advanced to the title game of the Ohio Hockey Classic since the tournament’s inaugural year in 2004. That season, the RedHawks lost to then-No. 2 Colorado College in the opening round.
Clarkson will play Ohio State in the OHC championship game at 8:00 p.m. Saturday.