OMAHA, Neb. — After getting pumped 8-0 the night before by host Nebraska-Omaha at the Mutual of Omaha Stampede, Clarkson came into Saturday afternoon’s game against fourth-ranked St. Cloud State looking to redeem themselves.
Boy, did they ever.
The third game of four in this showcase was quite the close-run affair in the beginning, but a four-goal flurry from the Golden Knights proved enough for the ECAC Hockey side to pull off a 6-2 upset over the Huskies at Qwest Center Omaha.
SCSU’s loss means both the Huskies and the Knights finished the Stampede 1-1-0.
Clarkson was desperate to give a better showing on Saturday than the night before, and after weathering the storm in a very even first period, the Knights scored four goals in the game’s middle frame.
Clarkson defenseman Andrew Himelson got the Knights on the board for the first time in the tournament at 5:40 of the second. Flying out of the penalty box after having served a tripping penalty, Himelson was the beneficiary of a Clarkson counter-attack, gaining the SCSU zone before beating Husky goaltender Dan Dunn.
The Knights’ second and third goals came 35 seconds apart from forwards Lauri Tuohimaa and Allan McPherson. Jake Morley then upped the Huskies’ deficit to four 1:25 after McPherson’s strike, prompting SCSU head coach Bob Motzko to pull Dunn in favor of Mike Lee, who had served the Huskies well in their 3-1 victory over No. 18 RIT on Friday.
The switch seemed to work, and Clarkson’s lead began to look endangered later in the period when SCSU forwards Tony Mosey and Ben Hanowski cut into the Knights’ lead with two goals 35 seconds apart.
The Huskies’ momentum expired along with the second period, though, and two more Knights’ goals in the final frame, from forward Pete Mazzar and defensman Bryan Rufenach, put to rest any remaining hopes of a Husky comeback.
“Their group was just far more determined than our group to work tonight,” Motzko said. “Things didn’t go right for (Clarkson) last year, and they obviously had a bad game last night. We just made some real critical mistakes, and you could tell we just fizzled on our bench emotionally. We wanted things to be a little easier, and Clarkson had no thoughts of making things easy on us. You’ve got to tip your hat to them.”
Clarkson head coach George Roll echoed Motzko’s sentiments, praising his team for its ability to bounce back from the horror loss it took on Friday.
“Our competitive level was way higher than last night,” Roll said. “We can give UNO full marks for last night, but we didn’t come to compete then. Tonight, we did. We played a good physical game and won a lot of battles against a very good hockey club.
“I’m proud of our effort, and we shouldn’t be satisfied with just one effort on the weekend, but we were a much different team here than we were last night. You’ve got two ways you can go after something like we experienced last night. You can feel sorry for yourself and get beat again, or you can come back and play the way we did.”
Clarkson (1-1-0) now heads home to Potsdam, N.Y. to prepare for next weekend’s home series against Bowling Green. SCSU (1-1-0) next faces #3 Miami at home.