POTSDAM After snapping a long stretch without a win against Cornell the Clarkson University mens hockey team now finds the same challenge tonight when Union College comes to Cheel Arena for a 7 p.m. ECAC Hockey game.
Clarksons 6-3 win over the Big Red last Saturday was the programs first win over Cornell since the 2007-08 season.
Union (13-8-5 overall, 6-4-4 conference) has a nine-game win streak against the Golden Knights, and has outscored Clarkson (6-13-7, 5-6-3) by a 50-16 margin in those contests.
We are just thinking about the process right now, Clarkson captain Ben Sexton said. Unions a very good team and weve been preparing for them all week. Were just looking at it as another game.
Union has won the past two ECAC Hockey regular-season titles and won the tournament last year, eventually reaching the Frozen Four.
The Dutchmen are especially dangerous on special teams. Union has scored 26 percent of the time on the power play, which is tied for first nationally, and the Dutchmen rank fifth in penalty killing at 89.5 percent. Clarksons penalty kill is 52nd nationally at 77.4 percent.
We got a couple texts this week from the senior class last year telling us congratulations on beating (Cornell), (beating Union) is something were definitely thinking about going into the game, senior defenseman Andrew Himelson said.
Union averages 3.04 goals and Wayne Simpson leads the Dutchmen with 12 goals and 16 assists.
Union is especially dangerous when it gets a lead. The Dutchmen are 10-2-3 if they score the first goal and just 3-6-2 otherwise. If Union is behind after the first period, it is 0-3 and just 1-4-1 if trailing after two.
Union has always had our number and theyve been one of the best teams in the league the last couple of years too, Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. More importantly, for us, we have to execute and perform. They are very good in their special teams and theyll make you pay if you make mistakes.
ON THE RISE
Its been a tough season for Clarkson, which is only 2-8-3 on home ice at Cheel Arena.
But starting with a third-period comeback against rival St. Lawrence University on Jan. 19, Clarkson has been playing much better than it was earlier in the season.
The Golden Knights rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third period to tie the Saints 3-3, and since that game, the team has gone 2-1-1 the following two weekends.
I think were skating better and transitioning pucks better, Jones said. It all comes down to making some plays. We have to make plays in the course of a game to score some goals. Its really tough where you are hanging on in a one- or two-goal game trying to win those. Its nice to get some offensive production to give us some breathing room where mistakes are not always going to be the end of the world.
ANOTHER PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Freshman T.J. Moor became the second straight Golden Knight to earn the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week award after scoring three goals last weekend.
Moor, a native of Lake St. Louis, Miss., who joined Clarkson in the second semester, scored his first career goal Friday against Colgate, and then scored two goals Saturday against Cornell during a major power play.
Hes got good energy, Jones said. Theres some chemistry on his line and hes still continuing to grasp our team concepts. Thats coming. For the most part hes given us good energy in games and he gets pucks to the net. Thats something where hes reaping some benefits right now. Its been a good run for him here the last couple weekends.
Because they are both engineering schools, Clarkson and Rensselaer have always been rivals.
But last year RPI ended Clarksons season by winning in three games in a first-round ECAC Hockey playoff series at Cheel.
I think the loss in the playoffs last year gives us some motivation against them, forward Will Frederick said.
Its always in the back of your mind for sure, Sexton said. I know that left a sour taste in my mouth, personally. They are one of our rivals so we are going to be prepared for it and be ready, and I know they will too. I think our school gets up for it. I know their school gets up for it. When we were down there last year, they had a pretty good crowd and they were rowdy.
Sportswriter Cap Carey covers Clarkson University hockey for the Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org