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Clarkson continues mastery over SLU, 3-1


LAKE PLACID — In the storied hockey rivalry between Clarkson and St. Lawrence, this time it was a pair of relative newcomers who led the way.

Freshmen Simon Bessette and Jeff DiNallo each scored a goal in the second period, and goalie Greg Lewis made 25 saves as the Golden Knights downed the Saints, 3-1, on Saturday night in a nonconference meeting before a crowd of 5,000 in the Festivus-Faceoff at historic Herb Brooks Arena.

Clarkson, which beat St. Lawrence, 4-1, on Wednesday in ECAC Hockey play, continued its recent dominance of their north country rival by again denying the Saints’ bid to record the 1,000th win in the history of the program.

“To sweep St. Lawrence is huge, especially for our town,” DiNallo said. “Having two back to back great games is big for us after those losses to Cornell and Colgate last weekend. It’s good for the guys and our morale as well.”

“I thought it was a really good hockey game,” said Clarkson coach Casey Jones, whose team has won seven of the past eight meetings with St. Lawrence. “We capitalized on our chances and Greg Lewis played really well in net. It was a physical game and was an entertaining one on the bigger ice surface. It was really a good win for us.”

Bessette and Jeff DiNallo, along with Todd Christian, comprise an all-freshman checking line for Clarkson (4-7-5).

“It’s fun playing in Lake Placid,” Bessette said. “Playing with Jeff DiNallo and Todd Christian, we know what our role is – bringing energy, just winning battles and putting pucks on net.”

Lewis, also a freshman, made 19 of his saves over the final two periods, including denying a breakaway bid by Kyle Flanagan of St. Lawrence (7-7-2).

The Golden Knights’ fourth line erased St. Lawrence’s only lead of the game with two goals in the middle period.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said senior assistant captain and defenseman George Hughes. “I think we had a lot of chances offensively and put a lot of shots on net. But we had some defensive breakdowns that cost us.”

After the Saints struck for the game’s first goal on Gunnar Hughes’ tally 2 minutes, 1 second into the second period, Bessette responded by scoring a rebound goal at 4:54.

“Being on the fourth line, every time you’re on the ice you want to show your teammates what you can do,” Bessette said. “We got two big goals (that) were huge for us. It’s also a big win because we wanted to sweep them.”

After St. Lawrence goalie Matt Weninger made an initial save on defenseman Sam Labrecque, Bessette fired the puck between the netminder’s legs.

Just minutes after Lewis stopped Flanagan’s breakaway backhander, Weninger denied DiNallo in close after the forward worked his way through a pair of defenders.

Moments later, DiNallo finished off a feed from the slot from Todd Christian to give the Golden Knights a 2-1 lead.

“Tonight, they had a really good game for us,” Jones said of the freshman line. “We’re comfortable having them on the ice at any time, we don’t have to worry about matchups and they gave us a really good game.”

“Each team made mistakes,” St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. “But our positioning was so poor that we weren’t able to recover from the mistakes we made.”

Junior Jarrett Burton provided Clarkson with a 3-1 lead with his rebound goal 8:36 into the third.

The outcome was the third consecutive loss for St. Lawrence, which has won only twice in its past 10 games (2-6-2).

“We just know we have to be better,” Hughes said. “Obviously we’re not happy where we’re at right now and we have to win a way to climb back from the hole we’re in right now.”

The Saints also went 0-for-4 on the power play after managing just one man-advantage goal from six chances against Clarkson on Wednesday.“Our team’s in a place right now where I thought we created enough offensively,” said Carvel, whose team remained winless in Saturday games (2-5-0). “But we couldn’t bear down and finish our chances. And when we made mistakes with the puck we got caught and paid for that.”

Flanagan and Greg Carey — the Saints’ top two scorers — played on the same line for the first time since early in the season but to no avail as the pair once again failed to score against Clarkson.

Hughes opened the scoring when redirected defenseman Pat Raley’s drive from the deep right point just inside the blue line to open the scoring.

This proved to be St. Lawrence’s only lead in the two games against Clarkson this week.

“You’ve got to give them credit, they worked hard and stuck to their game,” George Hughes said. “It just came down to the defensive breakdowns we made and some mental mistakes.”

The two teams will each host a nonconference game next Saturday as Clarkson will meet Mercyhurst while St. Lawrence entertains Vermont.

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