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Clarkson, Niagara play to 4-4 draw


POTSDAM — That first win of the 2012-13 season remains elusive for the Clarkson University men’s hockey team.

The Golden Knights had to settle for a 4-4 tie against Niagara University before a parents’ weekend sellout crowd of 3,119 fans at Cheel Arena Saturday night.

Clarkson (0-4-1 overall) looked like it might have its first win of the season when the Golden Knights took a 3-0 lead just 7 minutes and 36 seconds into the game after scoring all three goals during a major power play.

But, Niagara (2-2-3) slowly worked its way back and had a 4-3 lead in the third period before Clarkson defenseman James Howden helped the Golden Knights salvage a tie with a goal at 6:31 of the third period.

“We’re definitely disappointed with the outcome,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “We felt we had them on the hook in the first period. We have to be more disciplined. We showed our maturity level. We were real excited, took some anxious penalties. It’s a situation we keep reverting too. We have to be sound with a lead.”

Clarkson’s spurt began when Niagara’s Kevin Albers was called for elbowing at 3:11 of the first period. Will Frederick drew a penalty for hitting after the whistle at the same time, so Clarkson’s major was reduced to three minutes.

The Golden Knights scored three goals in just 79 seconds, beginning with a goal from Joe Zarbo at 6:17.

Pat Megannety scored at 7:16 and then 20 seconds later defenseman Sam Labrecque made it 3-0 with another goal.

“It was definitely great,” Labrecque said of the spurt. “We showed some good poise on the power play today. I think we needed it after (Friday’s) performance. It was good puck movement and good puck support.”

Clarkson had been 1-for-16 on the power play before Saturday’s game, so it was welcomed to see the production.

But after taking the quick lead, Clarkson reverted to some of the penalty issues that had caused it problems in the first four games of the season.

Niagara cut into the lead with power-play goals from Ryan Murphy at 13:04 and 16:35 of the first period.

“Our team is young and we have to learn to not get too excited about a 3-0 lead,” Howden said. “We have to just keep settled and keep to our game plan and systems.”

Niagara tied the game at 4:27 of the second period with a goal from Michael Benedict and took a short-lived 4-3 lead with a goal from Chris Lochner during a power play at 2:33 of the third period.

“Ties aren’t fun, but for what we persevered through tonight it’s one of the proudest moments I’ve had in 17 years,” Purple Eagles coach Dave Burkholder said. “It’s sold out. It’s Clarkson. It’s the ECAC. Just the way we battled, we have a bunch of warriors in the locker room I’m really proud of.”

Just like Friday night, Clarkson blew some chances against Niagara, including another five-on-three chance late in the second period.

“I was disappointed with our inability, again, on the five-on-three,” Jones said. “That’s on me. I have to be more prepared with the five-on-three at this stage. We lose a little momentum coming out of that without scoring.”

Howden kept Clarkson from an 0-5 start for just the third time in school history when he scored on a slap shot from deep in the circles at 6:31 of the third period.

“The puck came off the wall and it presented itself to me to take a quick shot,” Howden said. “There was a person in front of (goalie Carsen Chubak) so he didn’t quite see it and it went in.”

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