POTSDAM - Cruising to a 3-0 start to open the 2013-14 campaign, the Clarkson University Womens Hockey team has certainly been impressive in the early going. Guided by sixth-year co-head coaches Matt and Shannon Desrosiers, and assistant Matt Kelly, the Golden Knights have been dominant in their perfect start. Ranked third in the national polls, Clarkson has outscored its opponents 21-4 after defeating RIT 12-1 in the season opener on September 28, and sweeping St. Lawrence 5-2 and 4-1 this past weekend in a home-and-home, non-conference series.
Led by senior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) and senior assistant captains Vanessa Gagnon (St. Constant, QUE) and Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT), Clarkson will look to continue its winning way with another non-league, home-and-home series this weekend. The Green and Gold play at College Hockey America foe Syracuse University in Central New York on Friday at 7p.m., and then host the Orange at Cheel Arena on Saturday at 4p.m. The Knights close out the season-opening, non-conference portion of the schedule on October 18-19 when they take on highly regarded Mercyhurst College in a weekend series in Potsdam. Preseason favorites to win the ECAC Hockey title, Clarkson begins league play at defending conference champion Cornell on October 25.
Sophomore defenseman Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) has been a catalyst to the Knights exciting start with back-to-back hat tricks in the opening two games. Last seasons ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year, Ambrose has already reached her goal total from her rookie campaign (6) and has nine points overall. She leads the nation in goals scored on the young season and is tied for second in points per game (3.00). Ambrose has been named ECAC Player of the Week.
Rattray, who is on pace to become Clarksons all-time leading scorer, has scored a goal in each game this season to go along with three assists. Rattray is currently tied for second on the Knights all-time scoring charts with 121 career points (51-70) in 109 games. The all-time Clarkson mark is 148 points (50-98), set by Britney Selina 10 in 144 games (2006-10).
Seniors Brittany Styner (Calgary, ALB) and Vanessa Plante (Riviere-du-Loup, QUE) also have six points apiece on one goal and five assists. Gagnon, freshman Genevieve Bannon and senior Shelby Nisbet (Wiseton, SASK) have each scored two goals.
Two-time ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year, senior Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) is off to another solid start, benefiting from strong defensive play in the Clarkson end. Howe has faced an average of only 18 shots per game, and posts a.926 save percentage and a 1.50 goals against average through 160 minutes.
Syracuse enters the weekend at 1-1 after splitting two games against Hockey East foes over the weekend. The Orange skated past Northeastern 4-1 on Friday before falling by one, 3-2, at New Hampshire on Saturday.
Clarkson leads the series against Syracuse 5-1, but the games have been tight with the Knights only outscoring the Orange 19-15 through six games. Clarkson won two one-goal games last December, 3-2 at Cheel and 5-4 in Syracuse, to extend its winning streak over the Orange to four games.