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Clarkson men’s hockey team looks to extend momentum of 3-point weekend

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POTSDAM - Coming off its best weekend in ECAC Hockey play this season, the Clarkson University men’s hockey team will look to continue its momentum when it hosts Capital District foes Union College and Rensselaer this weekend to close out a four-game home stand at Cheel Arena.

Guided by second-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy ’00 and Andy Jones, the Golden Knights face off against the defending conference champion Dutchmen on Friday and then battle the rival Engineers on Saturday. Both games are 7:00 p.m. starts.

After gaining three points in league play in Potsdam over the weekend, Clarkson finds itself challenging for a top-four spot in the ECAC Hockey standings with eight games remaining in the regular season. Led by junior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT) and senior defenseman Andrew Himelson (Monroe, NY), the Green and Gold own a 5-6-3 league mark and are in a five-way tie for sixth place. The Knights are just three points out of third, but also just three points in front of 11th-place Cornell. Clarkson, which has gone 2-1-2 since mid-January, owns a 6-13-7 overall record.

The Knights, who have struggled to find the back of the net this season, are starting to discover their scoring touch with 19 goals during the past five games. Clarkson enjoyed its best offensive outing of the New Year over the weekend, recording 10 goals combined in the 4-4 tie against Colgate and the 6-3 win over Cornell.

UNION FRIDAY

Defending ECAC regular season and tournament champion, Union is riding a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1). Guided by second-year head coach Rick Bennett, the Dutchmen are ranked 18th in the USCHO.com poll with a 13-8-5 overall record, and are tied for third in the league standings at 6-4-4. In its lone action last week, Union tied Dartmouth 2-2 at Messa Rink in Schenectady on Friday. The Dutchmen, who are 6-5-3 in away games, are playing their first game on an opponent’s home ice in nearly a month.

The Knights hold a significant advantage in their all-time series against Union, leading 27-19-5 in the rivalry, but recently the play as all belong to the Dutchmen. Union has won a series-record nine straight games, outscoring the Green and Gold 50-16 during that stretch, and is 16-13-3 against the Knights in games played during the 2000s.

Clarkson battled the Dutchmen tough in Potsdam last year, falling 3-1 on November 5, 2011. Union took down the Knights 5-2 at Achilles Rink in their last meeting on January 27, 2012.

The Knights’ last win in the series was a 4-3 overtime victory in Potsdam on January 23, 2009. Clarkson is 14-6-1 all-time against Union at Cheel Arena.

Allan McPherson is the only current Knight with multiple points against the Dutchmen with two assists. Ben Sexton and Sam Labrecque are the only current Clarkson players to have scored a goal against the Dutchmen.

Cody Rosen has seen action in two games of the series, turning aside 20 of 24 Union shots through 35 minutes.

RENSSELAER SATURDAY

Rensselaer enters the North Country playing prehaps its best hockey of the season having gone 4-1 since mid-January, including a pair of shutouts this past weekend. The Engineers, guided by seventh-year head coach Seth Appert, play at St. Lawrence on Friday. RPI owns a 10-11-5 overall record. and is tied for 6th in the league at 5-6-3. RPI posted back-to-back 3-0 wins over Harvard and 16th-ranked Dartmouth at Houston Field House last weekend. The Engineers are 2-8-3 in away games.

In a heated rivalry which dates back to the 1924-25 campaign, Clarkson leads the overall series against Rensselaer 84-46-8. The Knights have won seven of the last 10 regular-season meetings against RPI, including a 4-1 triumph in Potsdam on November 4 and a 3-2 victory in Troy on January 28 last season. The Engineers, however, took two of three games in an ECAC first-round playoff series at Cheel last March (5-1, 3-4 3ot, 4-1).

The Knights are 13-8-3 against Rensselaer at Cheel Arena, but the Engineers have won four of their last six games in Potsdam.

The Knights’ last win against Rensselaer was a triple overtime thriller in Game 2 of last year’s playoff series with the Green and Gold over taking the Engineers 4-3 after almost two hours of playing time in the longest Clarkson game ever played at 113:48.

Sam Labrecque has scored a team-high five points (2-3) through five games in the series. Alex Boak has also scored two goals against the Engineers. Adam Pawlick and Ben Sexton, with the triple OT winner last year, are the only other current Knights to have scored a goal against RPI.

KNIGHT KNOTES: As Clarkson hits the stretch run with eight games remaining in the regular season, the Knights’ offense appears to be coming together. The Knights have scored three-or-more goals in four of the last five games and put up 10 on the scoreboard this past weekend … Clarkson has the second-ranked offense in ECAC Hockey, averaging 3.14 goals per game in conference play … Beginning with the third period of the 3-3 draw against St. Lawrence on January 19, when the Green and Gold rallied for the tie by scoring three unanswered goals over the final 12 minutes of regulation, Clarkson has combined for 19 goals in the past five games. The Knights had totaled only seven goals prior to that in a five-game losing skid … Clarkson is 2-1-2 since January 19 with the lone setback during that span, a 5-1 loss at nationally-ranked Dartmouth … Joe Zarbo has played a key role in the Knights’ offensive resurgence. He has a current four-game, point- scoring streak with five goals and three assists during that span … Six different Knights scored goals over the weekend, led by T.J. Moor with three. The rookie right wing, who joined the team at the start of the New Year, tallied his first collegiate goal on Friday against Colgate and then struck for two power-play markers during a five-minute major in Saturday’s win over Cornell. He also assisted on the game-winner. Moor was named ECAC Hockey Player of the Week … Defenseman James Howden, who only had a pair of goals coming into the weekend, came through with two big goals in the Knights’ three-point weekend. He tallied with 66 seconds remaining in regulation of the 4-4 draw against Colgate. Howden followed with the eventual game-winning goal against Cornell, scoring Clarkson’s fourth goal 72 seconds after the Big Red had made it a one-goal game at 3-2 … The Knights’ leader on the stat sheet, Allan McPherson has a team-high 20 points and 14 assists. He scored a power-play goal in each game over the weekend … Juniors Jarrett Burton (Echo Bay, ONT) and Will Frederick (Allison Park, PA) broke out of lengthy goal-scoring slumps with third-period scores against Cornell. Burton tallied his eighth goal of the season and first since December 8 and Fredericks netted his sixth of the season and first since January 5 … Freshman Pat Megannety (Oakville, ONT) earned an assist in both games over the weekend. He is the Knights’ leading rookie scorer with seven goals and nine assists. Megannety is tied with Joe Zarbo and Burton for second on Clarkson in scoring with 16 points … After posting two assists through the seasons’ first 21 games, junior defenseman Alex Boak (Norwood, NY) has recorded one goal and four assists over the last five contests … Freshman Simon Bessette (St. Jean, QUE) tallied three assists on the weekend, including a career-high two helpers against Cornell … The Knights went an eight-game stretch without a power-play goal (0-of-26) from December 1 through January 12. Since then Clarkson has scored on the man-advantage at least once in four of the past five games (6-23, 26%), including a 3-for-7 effort in the win over Cornell. Overall, Clarkson is 17-105 (16%) on the power play, led by four goals from Joe Zarbo … Freshman Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) has made nine consecutive starts in the Clarkson crease and 24 appearances overall for the season. He posts a .903 save percentage and a 2.83 goals against average.

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