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Clarkson men open 2013 with loss to UMass-Lowell

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POTSDAM — Some of the same problems from 2012 surfaced in the first game in 2013 for the Clarkson University men’s hockey team.

The Golden Knights started a stretch where they play nine of 11 games at Cheel Arena with a 2-1 loss to UMass-Lowell in a nonconference game before 1,799 fans Friday night.

The loss dropped Clarkson (4-9-5 overall) to 1-5-1 at Cheel Arena this season. Last season, Clarkson was 12-5-2 at home, but the Golden Knights have not been able to turn Cheel Arena into an advantage so far this season.

“We have to start performing at a high level at home here,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “We have a lot of games here at home in the second half and we’ve got to find that will to win and ways to close games. I thought our game management was poor tonight. If you are going to have a good record, or try to do anything, you generally try to split on the road and you try to win a majority of your games at home. It’s a flip from last year. We have to find a way to find that normal routine at home and play with same simplicity and aggressiveness that we play on the road when we go out there and just think hockey only.”

The River Hawks won on two third-period goals by Christian Folin and Michael Colantone.

Clarkson had not played since a 3-1 loss to Mercyhurst on Dec. 15 at Cheel, while the River Hawks (8-7-1) defeated Bentley, 3-2, on Dec. 30.

But the Golden Knights did not come out sluggish and took a 1-0 lead just 3 minutes, 55 seconds into the game on a goal from defenseman Andrew Himelson that came from a shot from the near the boards and just in front of the blue line that sailed over the glove of UMass-Lowell goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

“I threw it on net hoping that someone would get a stick on it and it would go in,” Himelson said. “I didn’t even see it go in. I’ll take it. When you get goals from defensemen it’s scoring you don’t usually expect to get, so it’s a little boost for the team. But we weren’t able to capitalize on that tonight.”

Himelson’s first goal of the season turned out to be the only offensive highlight of the night for the Golden Knights.

Clarkson had chances to extend the lead to 2-0, but missed converting on breakaways and a three-on-one situation and had just 13 shots on goal after two periods.

“You saw some rust in situations where we mishandled pucks,” Jones said. “We had some scoring chances where we bobbled pucks or missed. You don’t know what you are getting coming out of break. Tonight I thought we were good early, but in the second period we didn’t come out at all. I thought our energy waned, but we got it back in the third period.”

Freshman goalie Greg Lewis combined for 23 saves in the first and second periods, including a glove snag on a backhand shot by Terrence Wallin just 27 seconds into the second.

“I thought we needed to get a second goal to get a little bit of confidence,” Jones said.

Said Himelson, “That (second) goal never came, and we didn’t do a good enough job holding the lead in the third.”

The River Hawks were still behind 1-0 after two, but had a 23-13 edge in shots and were able to win for the first time this season when trailing after two. UMass-Lowell had been 0-5 when behind after 40 minutes.

“I thought we got better as the game went along,” UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin said. “Their goaltender played awfully well and we finally snuck a few by him in the third period. It’s easier to come back from one (goal) than two.”

The River Hawks tied the game on a shot from the circle by Folin at 4:30 of the third period, and took the lead on a one-timer from Colantone at 14:53 of the third.

nNOTES: Clarkson will play the River Hawks again at 7 tonight at Cheel. It is the final nonconference game of the season for the Golden Knights. ... Clarkson captain Ben Sexton played his first game since Nov. 17. He missed the last six games with a leg injury. Clarkson also added freshman forward T.J. Moor to the roster. Moor played for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the U.S. Hockey League last season.

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