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Clarkson men host RIT in 2013-14 Cheel debut


POTSDAM - Off to a solid start to the 2013-14 campaign the Clarkson University men’s hockey team opens the home portion of its schedule this weekend when it hosts Rochester Institute of Technology in a two-game series at Cheel Arena.

Guided by third-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy ‘00 and Andy Jones, the Golden Knights face off against the Tigers at 7 p.m. on Friday and then again on Saturday in the Parents Weekend game at 7:30 p.m.

Owning a 3-1 record for its best start in six years, Clarkson led by senior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT), returns to Potsdam coming off its third victory of the season over an Atlantic Hockey foe. Five different Knights scored their first goals of the year as the Green and Gold displayed a balanced effort in the 5-2 consolation game win over Mercyhurst at the Ice Breaker Tournament on Saturday.

Junior defenseman James Howden (Edgeley, SASK) tallied the game-winner at 18:05 of the middle frame as the Knights built a 4-1 cushion after 40 minutes with two late-second period scores. Sexton connected on the power play with nine seconds remaining in the period. Sophomore Jeff DiNallo (Aurora, ONT) opened the scoring, off a pass from freshman A.J. Fossen (Maple Grove, MN), with his third career goal just 4:43 into the game.

Playing in his first collegiate game, rookie Perry D’Arrisso (Mississauga, ONT) gave the Knights a 2-0 lead early in the second. Sophomore Simon Bessette (St. Jean, QUE) closed put the win with an empty-net goal in the final seconds. Freshman Steve Perry (Ligonier, PA) posted 23 saves to improve his record in the Clarkson crease to 2-0.

In the tournament’s opening round at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, the Knights fell to 12th-ranked University of New Hampshire 4-1. Freshman defenseman James de Haas (Mississauga, ONT) recorded his first collegiate point with Clarkson’s lone goal. The Knights outshot the high-flying Wildcats 34-33 on the Olympic ice sheet at Mariucci, but UNH took control in the second period. Sophomore Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) made 29 saves, including 15 stops in the middle frame.

Clarkson opened the season with a weekend road sweep over Niagara in Western New York on October 5-6, winning 2-1 and 2-0 to snap the 20th-ranked Purple Eagles’ 22-game home-unbeaten streak.

The Knights continue a four-game home stand to close out the month when host NCHC powerhouse Colorado College on October 25-26. Clarkson begins ECAC Hockey action playing at Brown and defending national champion Yale on November 1-2.

An experienced team with 19 lettermen, RIT will be challenging for the top spot in Atlantic Hockey and looks to return to the NCAA Tournament where it reached the Frozen Four in 2010. Guided by 15th-year head coach Wayne Wilson, the Tigers begin a three-game road trip with the journey to the North Country. RIT opened its ninth-season of Division I play with a 4-1 loss at home to Colgate on October 10. RIT battled 10th-ranked Michigan in a wild contest on Saturday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester but could not overcome a 4-0 first-period deficit as the Wolverines sealed the victory with two third-period goals to gain a 7-4 victory.

The Knights have a current eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) in the series against RIT which started with a 3-0 Clarkson win on October 29, 1983 in Potsdam. Overall the Green and Gold lead the Tigers 10-2-2. Clarkson saw a seven-game winning streak in the series end last year in Rochester when the two teams battled to a 3-3 tie at Ritter Arena on November 23.

In the teams’ last meeting in Potsdam, the Knights knocked off the Tigers 5-3 at Cheel Arena on October 17, 2009. RIT’s last win over Clarkson was a 4-3 victory in the first round of the 1986 Syracuse Invitational on December 27.

The Tigers also defeated the Knights 5-4 in overtime at Walker Arena on October 26, 1985. Clarkson is 3-0 against RIT at Cheel.

Matt Zarbo, Simon Bessette and Pat Megannety are the only current Knights to have scored a goal in the series. Bessette and Megannety recorded shorthanded tallies last year in Rochester. Greg Lewis posts a .896 save percentage and a 2.77 GAA in 65 minutes of action against RIT.

KNIGHT KNOTES: At 3-1, Clarkson is off to its best start since the 2007-08 campaign … All three wins have come against the top two teams in the Atlantic Hockey (AH) preseason poll … The Knights were 0-3-4 against AH teams last year … Clarkson closes out this year’s regular-season competition against Atlantic Hockey foes with its two-game series against RIT this weekend … The Knights have gone 13-7-2 in their first 22 official season openers at Cheel Arena … The Green and Gold have posted a 239-116-41 record at Cheel through the arena’s first 22 years … Clarkson is 14-4-3 all-time against Atlantic Hockey (AH) foes at Cheel, but went 0-3-1 against AH teams last year in Potsdam … Clarkson is receiving a balanced effort throughout the line up with all four lines and the defense contributing on the score sheet … Ten different Knights have accounted for the team’s 10 goals through the first four games and 16 players have accounted for at least one point … Captain Ben Sexton leads the way with four points, including a team-high three assists … Senior Jarrett Burton (Echo Bay, ONT) has three points (1-2) along with sophomore defenseman Paul Geiger (Stouffville, ONT), who lead the offensive production from the Clarkson blueline … Three Clarkson defensemen have scored goals this season – Geiger, James Howden and rookie James de Haas … Sophomore defenseman Kevin Tansey (Hammond, ONT), who missed all of last season recovering from injuries, has recorded one assist and a +2 plus/minus rating … Perry D’Arrisso made his collegiate debut in the consolation game of the Ice Breaker and scored on his first shot on goal to give the Knights a 2-0 lead over Mercyhurst … Jeff DiNallo, who missed the final eight games with injuries last season, scored his third career goal and first since December 8 in the win over Mercyhurst. He was set up by freshman line mate and Minnesota native A.J. Fossen (Maple Grove, MN), who picked up his first career point … Last year’s leading scorer and team MVP, senior Allan McPherson (Kinburn, ONT) has two points (1-1) on the year and leads all current Knights in career scoring with 73 points (29-44) … Clarkson has scored a power play goal in all four games, going 4-of-18 (22.2%) overall … The Knights have killed off 18-of-20 (90%) opponent man-advantage chances … Steve Perry is 2-0 in the Clarkson goal with a .964 save percentage, 1.00 goals against average and a shutout in his first collegiate game (2-0 at Niagara on Oct. 6 with 30 saves) … Greg Lewis posts a .906 save percentage and a 2.50 GAA in two starts.

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