POTSDAM — For Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin Saturday’s nonconference men’s hockey game provided a happy homecoming as his Lakers defeated Clarkson 3-1 before 1,983 fans at Cheel Arena.
Clarkson coach Casey Jones was left frustrated by a game which saw his team struggle after a week with limited practice times due to final exams and an untimely major penalty.
Gotkin, who played on SUNY Canton’s 1979 junior college national championship team and coached the school in the 1984-85 season, led Mercyhurst to its first win against Clarkson after six losses.
Clarkson (4-8-5 overall) hampered its chances to extend a win streak to three games when senior defenseman Nik Pokulok was given a major penalty at 10 minutes, 19 seconds of the first period and missed the rest of the game.
Not only did that give the Lakers (7-6-1), who have the nation’s third-best power play, five minutes to score, it also forced Clarkson to play with just five defensemen after a week where most of the upperclassmen missed many of the practices while taking exams and may not have had their usual stamina.
The Lakers did capitalize on the situation, taking a 1-0 lead at 11:39 of the first period when Chris Bodo positioned himself near the crease and one-timed a shot from Tyler Shiplo past Clarkson goalie Cody Rosen.
Clarkson controlled play in the second period, outshooting the Lakers 17-8.
But Mercyhurst extended the lead to 2-0 at 8:51 of the second period when freshman Kyle Cook scored his first career goal on a wraparound.
Clarkson’s only goal game at 15:39 of the second period on a slap shot from the circle by forward Patrick Marsh that hit the crossbar and fell in, cutting the lead to 2-1.
Mercyhust goalie Jordan Tibbett stopped 42 of 43 shots. The Lakers kept many of Clarkson’s shots to the outside, and several Clarkson shots were taken right at Tibbett’s stomach.
Clarkson finished with a 43-28 edge in shots but produced only two shots on three power-play opportunities.