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Clarkson suffers from post-holiday blues

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Clarkson University men’s hockey team will enter the New Year after enduring a first this season — having been dealt consecutive losses.

UMass Lowell made sure of that by downing the Golden Knights, 3-1, on Sunday in the second round of the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

Ninth-ranked Clarkson (12-5-1), which was defeated 3-2 by Vermont on Saturday night, has now lost back-to-back games for the first time in this campaign.

“I thought we competed well against a good hockey team,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “We had a short bench with a short turnaround from the night before, but I think we showed a lot of character to compete at a high level. It’s just unfortunate that we ended up on the short end of the stick tonight.”

The No. 10-ranked River Hawks (13-5-0) received a power-play goal from both Josh Holmstrom and Scott Wilson.

Trailing 1-0 through the first 40 minutes, Clarkson tied the game on Ben Sexton’s power-play goal 38 seconds into the third period as he lifted a wrist shot over goalie Doug Carr’s stick-side shoulder.

After Clarkson was assessed successive penalties, Wilson followed with the deciding goal for UMass Lowell with a rising wrist shot that eluded goalie Greg Lewis at 14:21.

“We scored a big power-play goal and then we ended up taking a penalty where (Jeff DiNallo) just lifted his stick and it caught their player in the face shield,” Jones said. “Then they scored on a power play themselves. For the most part, it was a well played game.”

With Lewis then heading to the bench for an extra attacker, Evan Campbell followed with an open-net goal with 1:02 left in regulation for the River Hawks.

Clarkson’s penalty kill came up strong in the first period, fending off both of the River Hawks power-play opportunities. Lewis made 10 stops, including a sprawling pad save in the final seconds of the period while UMass Lowell was skating short-handed.

The River Hawks broke through with a man-advantage goal 3:06 into the second period as Holmstrom scored on his own rebound.

Carr made 18 saves for UMass Lowell, which leads the nation in defense, allowing 1.83 goals per game, and which is now 12-2 over its past 14 games.

Lewis stopped 31 of 34 shots for Clarkson.

Both Clarkson losses this weekend came after the team was off for 20 days while on its exam/holiday break. The Golden Knights had won five of their previous six games, including three straight.

“We were much better tonight and much more detail oriented,” said Jones, “and we were much closer to who we are as a team than we were (Saturday) night. It’s just unfortunate with the schedule because we just weren’t sharp (Saturday) night.”

Clarkson will get two more chances against UMass Lowell, meeting the River Hawks on Jan. 2-3 in Lowell, Mass.

“It’s unusual in the regular season that’s for sure,” Jones said of the three consecutive meetings between the two teams. “We know we’ll have our work cut out for us in their building. But it’s going to be a good opportunity to start off the New Year right against a good hockey team.”

NOTES: Clarkson was down two forwards for much of the game as Will Frederick didn’t dress because of an injury and T.J. Moor left the game with an injury.

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