POTSDAM The Clarkson University mens hockey team had one of its best efforts of the season when it needed it most Friday night.
The Golden Knights shut out Dartmouth College 4-0 before 2,142 fans in an ECAC Hockey game at Cheel Arena, moving into a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference standings with the Big Green and Yale.
Clarkson (9-15-7 overall, 8-8-3 conference) plays its final regular-season home game at 7 tonight against Harvard and finds itself just one point behind Union College for the final bye position with three games to play.
But the Golden Knights are also only two points ahead of the final spot which would receive home ice for a first-round playoff series.
Its important for us to learn to win important games, Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. Thats the next stage we have to have. This weekend is a big weekend for us and we needed to respond. Its time for us to respond to a big weekend in a big way and the first step was tonight.
Said Clarksons Mike Garlasco, Its playoff hockey already. Were trying to get that bye first week. That would be huge for us and thats what were going for right now. Its playoff mentality for sure.
Clarkson lost 5-1 to the Big Green in Hanover, N.H. on Jan. 26, but set a tone for Fridays game early when fourth-line forward Mike Garlasco gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead with his first goal in three years at 2 minutes, 11 seconds of the first period.
Defenseman Alex Boak, a Norwood native, took a shot from inside the blue line and Garlasco redirected it from just outside the crease between the legs of Big Green goalie Cab Morris.
Garlasco, a junior, was playing in just his 13th game of the season and had missed 16 of Clarksons last 20 games either due to injury or just not being selected to dress.
When you dont play for a while you dont want to miss your opportunity, Jones said. He works hard in practice. We talked to him a few weeks back that he was on the cusp (of playing), that he was making progress. Hes taken full advantage of the opportunity here right now. Kudos to him for staying in game shape and staying ready.
Clarkson took a 2-0 lead on the Big Green (12-10-4, 8-8-3) at 5:43 of the second period on a rebound goal from Jarrett Burton. Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet pulled Morris after that goal and replaced him with James Kruger, a freshman who had yet to play this season.
(Clarkson) was very opportunistic, Gaudet said. I think we are better than we showed. I thought it was a closer game than the score. It was just one of those games where all of a sudden we were down. It wasnt like we played poorly. They did a good job.
Boak made it 3-0 with a goal on a slap shot at 10:10 of the second period and Burton closed out the scoring with an empty-net goal at 18:44 of the third period.
Tonight we were all over these guys, Boak said. We kind of suffocated them. We got momentum off our blocked shots (on the penalty kill). All four of our lines were clicking and we were keeping those guys to the outside and they didnt get very many shots in the slot area.
Freshman goalie Greg Lewis finished with 28 saves for his second career shutout.
We came out hard today and the defense played well in front of me, Lewis said. Everybody was blocking shots. We had that hunger to block shots and play good defensive and it made it to the offensive zone. Weve been playing good hockey the past few weeks and we came out to play tonight. nNOTES: Clarkson was missing senior defenseman Nik Pokulok in Saturdays game. Pokulok, along with seniors Adam Pawlick, Andrew Himelson and Cody Rosen will be honored after tonights game against Harvard. ... Ben Sexton assisted on two of Clarksons goals Friday. ... Dartmouth assistant coach John Rose is a Potsdam native and former Sandstoner hockey player.