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Holy Cross foils Clarkson’s celebratory evening


POTSDAM — An evening that started with a celebration devolved into a night of disappointment for the Clarkson University men’s hockey team.

The Golden Knights retired the No. 7 jersey of Potsdam native Craig Conroy before Saturday night’s nonconference game against Holy Cross at Cheel Arena, then went on to fall 3-1 to the Crusaders before 2,898 fans.

“Our energy level was completely different tonight than what we had at Colorado College (last weekend),” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “They outworked us. They respected the puck a little bit more. All around, it was a disappointing game for us. We’re better than that. We know that.”

Saturday’s game was Clarkson’s official home opener, but it was the second time this season that the home fans came away disappointed. Clarkson (0-3 overall) lost an exhibition game to Ottawa’s Carleton University 6-2 on Oct. 7.

“We haven’t played well at home in our two games,” Jones said. “Offensively, as a unit, we’re very individualistic right now. It’s gut-check time for us right now.”

Holy Cross (2-0) stayed in its locker room during the Conroy jersey retirement ceremony. But the Crusaders were aware of what the event meant to both Clarkson’s players and fans and were also inspired to avenge a 5-0 home loss against Clarkson last season.

Rob Linsmayer started things for the Crusaders when he scored a goal shortly after a faceoff at 14 minutes, 33 seconds of the first period, to give Holy Cross a 1-0 lead. Caston Sommer won the draw and sent the puck to Evan Zych, who set up Linsmayer’s shot.

“That’s always big, especially in front of a raucous crowd and everyone’s all fired up,” Crusaders coach Paul Pearl said. “No matter where you play, especially here with a good team like that, they are going to come at your hard.”

Clarkson did not let the Crusaders keep the lead for long. Just 65 seconds after the goal Holy Cross’s Jake Bolton was called for boarding and Joe Zarbo scored on the ensuing power play with a shot from between the circles at 16:29 to tie the score. Allan McPherson and Paul Geiger earned assists.

Holy Cross regained the lead late in the second period when Adam Schmidt scored on a tip-in in front of the Clarkson net with just 75 seconds remaining.

“I thought that second goal at the end of the second period was huge,” Pearl said.

Clarkson was not overly concerned being down by just one goal after experiencing a rally from a 5-1 deficit last Friday at Colorado College, eventually losing 5-4.

“We’re the type of team that we have to keep coming on no matter what,” defenseman Alex Boak said.

Clarkson’s hope for another rally was thwarted at 8:50 of the third period when Brandon Nunn was awarded a penalty shot after Clarkson defenseman Andrew Himelson had to reach at him from behind to avoid a possible breakaway goal.

Nunn buried the shot past Clarkson goalie Greg Lewis to give the Crusaders a 3-1 advantage.

“I was deciding whether or not to watch it,” Pearl said. “I was going to let the crowd reaction tell me what happened. But Brandon made a beautiful shot.”

Holy Cross came off the ice in a celebratory mood and sang in the locker room after the game.

Clarkson was left wondering what went wrong.

“I think they were just working really hard,” Joe Zarbo said of the Crusaders. “Maybe we weren’t really ready. They outworked us a bit.”

Said Boak, “We should be one of the better teams in the ECAC this year and we weren’t ready to play tonight.”

nNOTES: Clarkson was missing forward Adam Pawlick, who was injured in the exhibition game against Carleton, and defenseman Sam Labrecque, who was injured last weekend against Colorado College. The Golden Knights dressed just five defenseman and used freshman Jeff DiNallo as an extra forward. ... Sophomore forward Mitch Zion left the program this week and will transfer to another school. Zion had yet to play this season and he appeared in only 13 games last year, picking up an assist against Colgate.

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