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College hockey: Clarkson loses focus in return

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BURLINGTON, Vt. — This wasn’t quite the way Clarkson University’s men’s hockey team envisioned its first game coming off another lengthy break.

Goalie Brody Hoffman made 29 saves and Vermont scored two goals in the first nine minutes — including a score from former Golden Knight Pete Massar — to hold off Clarkson 3-2 on Saturday night in the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup at Gutterson Field House.

The Golden Knights (12-4-1), ranked ninth in both national polls, were playing their first game in 20 days following their exam/holiday break.

“We just weren’t sharp in the first period when we needed to be,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “I just thought our attention to detail defensively and our management of the game wasn’t very good tonight.”

After trailing by two goals in the opening period, Clarkson fought back and nearly drew even late in the third period, but was dealt just its second loss in its past eight games.

Vermont (9-6-1), which defeated Clarkson in the Catamount Cup, 3-0 in the previous meeting between the two teams in December 2005, recorded its sixth victory in its past seven games.

Trailing 2-0, the Golden Knights broke through with Jarrett Burton’s power-play goal with 52.9 seconds remaining in the middle period. Clarkson converted while on a 5-on-3 man advantage as Burton tipped in a shot from the point by defenseman Sam Labrecque for only the second power-play goal allowed by the Catamounts at home this season.

“We were able to get it done on our second 5-on-3 on Jarrett Burton’s tip,” Jones said. “But we weren’t moving the puck too well while we were (skating) 5-on-4, and I think they had good pressure — they’re a good penalty-killing team.”

Vermont generated another two-goal lead as Tom Forgione scored on a breakaway with 7:01 remaining in regulation as he sent a backhander through goalie Steve Perry’s legs.

Then with Perry pulled for an extra attacker, Jeff DiNallo knocked in a Jeff Geiger rebound past Hoffman with 1:04 left to draw the Golden Knights within 3-2.

After Hoffman stopped Will Frederick’s wrist shot with 50.2 seconds remaining, Clarkson captain Ben Sexton was assessed a slashing penalty with 25.4 seconds remaining. Hoffman then made a save on a drive by Paul Geiger with 7.7. seconds left.

“I don’t think we were very opportunistic on our scoring chances and they were,” Jones said. “We gave up a goal on a 2-on-1, then a backdoor goal and then they scored on a breakaway. I think we gave up too many odd-man rushes tonight.”

After Massar, a senior who transferred to Vermont after his sophomore season at Clarkson, scored 6:32 into the game, the Catamounts cashed in on a turnover. Mario Puskarich scored at the nine-minute mark to build a 2-0 advantage.

Perry stopped 16 of 19 shots for the Golden Knights.

Clarkson finished 1-for-5 on the power play while killing off all three of Vermont’s man advantages.

The Golden Knights will face UMass Lowell at 4:05 today in the second round of the classic-style tournament.

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