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Clarkson men skate past RIT in Cheel debut


POTSDAM — For the third time this season, the Clarkson University men’s hockey team has defeated an opponent it did not beat a year ago.

The Golden Knights opened the home portion of their schedule with a 4-1 win over the Rochester Institute of Technology before 2,058 fans in a nonconference game at Cheel Arena Friday night.

RIT, an Atlantic Hockey team, tied the Golden Knights 3-3 a year ago, but Clarkson (4-1 overall) continues to show early in the season that it has improved from last year’s squad.

“We don’t take anybody lightly,” Clarkson senior Allan McPherson said. “Atlantic Hockey has improved. We saw it last year. We lost almost every game (against Atlantic Hockey foes) and tied a couple. Anyone can beat anyone in college hockey. We saw that last year.”

Clarkson was 0-3-4 against Atlantic Hockey teams last season, but so far this year the Golden Knights are 4-0, having already defeated Niagara twice and Mercyhurst once.

“I’m pleased with our effort,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “I thought we had good energy. I was really pleased with our third-period play when we had the lead. I thought we did a good job possessing the puck and playing with the puck in the third.”

Clarkson controlled play in the first period, outshooting the Tigers 15-10, but did not score until 14 minutes, 20 seconds in when Jeff DiNallo scored his second goal of the year after taking a nice pass from behind the net by Pat Megannety.

RIT, coming off a pair of losses last week to Colgate and Michigan, continued to struggle. The Tigers (0-3) also dropped an exhibition game to Queens University.

“I came out of the first period and did not think we played that well,” Tigers coach Wayne Wilson said. “I did not think we were going with a strong forecheck and second and third efforts. We were one (shot) and done. That was a big part to (Clarkson). They were very well-coached and did a great job tonight.”

The Tigers had a chance to tie the game 1-1 with a little more than six minutes left in the second period when Brad Reid had a breakaway opportunity, but Clarkson goalie Greg Lewis stifled his chance.

“I thought he played really well,” Jones said of Lewis. “He was equal to the task when they had their opportunities. He’s confident. I wanted him in the home opener tonight for his experience, and he handled it really well.”

Shortly after Lewis’s save, Clarkson extended the lead to 2-0 on a strange goal from Jarrett Burton, who broke his stick on the shot but still got the puck past Tigers’ goalie Jordan Ruby at 15:02 of the second period.

“As I was trying take the shot, that’s when (the stick) broke,” Burton said. “I just had to watch it trickle in. I’m pretty happy about it, I guess. We were just trying to pump pucks at Ruby all night. We know he’s a good goalie.”

RIT answered Burton’s goal when Reid finally got a shot past Lewis at 17:09 of the second period to make the score 2-1.

But just 27 seconds after the Tigers cut the lead to one, Clarkson’s McPherson answered with a goal to extend the lead to 3-1 heading into the third period.

“I thought (Clarkson) outbattled us,” Wilson said. “You look at their second and third goals, the second goal they ran over our defenseman and goalie, but they just went to the net strong, I had no problem with it. We have to defend that area better. The third goal they won on a faceoff and got a shot off, a second shot and a third shot and scored.”

Joe Zarbo scored on a rebound of his own shot at 3:24 of the third period to give Clarkson a 4-1 lead and Lewis preserved that score by making a save on a shorthanded breakaway from Josh Mitchell later in the period.

“The guys played well in front of me all night,” Lewis said. “It felt pretty good. We’re happy, but we’re not really satisfied here. We know we can win some games here and we need to put a streak together.”

NOTES: Megannety was injured early in the game and did not finish. It is not know how serious his injury is or when he will return. ... Sophomore defenseman Paul Geiger assisted on two goals and had a plus-two rating. ... Clarkson went 49-2 on faceoffs, with Ben Sexton winning 18 of 20.

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