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Second-ranked Clarkson women host strong opponents to start 2013

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potsdam - After taking a 26-day break for final semester exams and the holidays, the Clarkson University women’s hockey team will be eager to get back on the ice and continue to build upon its reputation as one of the top teams in the country.

Guided by fifth-year co-head coaches Matt and Shannon Desrosiers, and assistant Matt Kelly, the Golden Knights return to action to start the New Year hosting a pair of national powerhouses from Boston at Cheel Arena. The Knights battle 5th-ranked Boston College on Thursday night at 7p.m. and then face off against 9th-ranked Northeastern in a Friday afternoon game, beginning at 3p.m.

Ranked #2 in the national polls, Clarkson, enjoyed a strong 2012 portion of the schedule, concluding with a home-and-home sweep of Syracuse (3-2, 5-4) on December 7-8. Led by junior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) and senior assistant captain Hailey Wood (Lethbridge, ALB), the Green and Gold skated to a 15-3 overall record and a 7-1 ECAC Hockey mark through the season’s first half.

The Golden Knights posted five victories over Top-10 ranked teams, including a key 2-1 conference win over third-ranked Cornell in Potsdam on November 30. The Green and Gold also took a pair of games against North Country rival, seventh-ranked St. Lawrence, winning 1-0 in Canton and 3-2 at Cheel in early October. The Knights also posted wins at 7th-ranked Mercyhurst (3-0) on October 19 and at 9th-ranked North Dakota (3-1) on November 2. Clarkson’s three losses have been one-goal defeats, including a pair of setbacks on the road at nationally-ranked foes.

Junior Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) backstops the Knights in goal as one of the top netminders in the country. Twice named ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Month (October, November), Howe has started 17 games and posts a .939 save percentage and a 1.53 goals against average. She has recorded three shutouts for Clarkson, which entered the break with the third-best defense in Division I, allowing only 1.50 goals per game.

Junior Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) headlines the offense with 31 points and 15 goals, including a national-high of five game-winners. She paces Clarkson’s third-ranked power play (29.5%, 23-78) and is tied for fourth in the country in power-play tallies with six. Rattray also has one shorthanded goal to her credit.

Mercer follows with 27 points and is tied with freshman defenseman Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) as the Knights leading playmaker with 19 assists. One of the top offensive-defenseman in Division I, Ambrose has tallied 21 points through 16 games.

Junior Brittany Styner (Calgary, ALB) and senior Danielle Skirrow (Trenton, ONT) round out Clarkson’s double-figure scorers with 15 (4-11) and 14 (9-5) points, respectively.

Both Rattray and Ambrose will miss the opening games of 2013 as they will be participating with Canada’s National Women’s Under-22/Development Team at the 2013 Meco Cup, taking place January 2-6 in Buchloe, Füssen and Ravensburg, Germany.

Both Boston College and Northeastern will travel to the North Country after enjoying lengthy breaks as well, having last played on December 5. Ranked fifth in the nation, BC owns an 11-3-2 overall record and stands atop the Hockey East standings with an 8-2-1 league mark. The Eagles, who are unbeaten in their last 12 games (10-0-2), won their seventh straight right before the break with a 4-1 victory at UNH.

Northeastern is ranked ninth in the polls with 10-5-2 overall record and a 5-4-1, fourth-place Hockey East mark. The Huskies defeated Dartmouth 3-2 in overtime in their last game.

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