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College women’s hockey: Clarkson closing fast

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POTSDAM — The Clarkson University women’s hockey team continued its climb up the ECAC Hockey standings Saturday by defeating fourth-ranked Cornell 3-1 in Cheel Arena.

The No. 6 Golden Knights (19-4-3 overall, 10-2-2 conference) moved past Cornell into second place in the ECAC Hockey standings and are now three points behind first-place Harvard, though Clarkson has played one less game than the Crimson.

Clarkson is 7-0-1 in its last eight games and has outscored the opposition 32-10 in those contests. The Golden Knights have not lost since falling 2-1 to North Dakota on Dec. 6.

“It’s a combination of things,” Clarkson co-coach Matt Desrosiers said. “I really like the way we are going right now. I feel like we are getting better every weekend. It doesn’t matter who we are playing, we continue to play the same way. We are playing the game that we need to play.”

Cornell (14-3-4, 9-2-3) defeated Clarkson 6-3 in Ithaca on Oct. 25, a score that proved to be a motivator for the Golden Knights.

“I feel like we just had something to prove,” Clarkson captain Carly Mercer said. “We wanted this game really bad. Ever since we played them down there we’ve been waiting for this game. We wanted to redeem ourselves and that’s what we did. Down there our (defensive) zone was not as sound as it usually is. For us, that’s one of the things we work on day in and day out. That’s something we take a lot of pride in.”

In the first matchup the Big Red scored two goals in the first five minutes and Clarkson never got its game going.

On Saturday Clarkson reversed the pattern and took a 1-0 lead at 10 minutes, 7 seconds of the first period on a goal from Mercer, with Erin Ambrose and Genevieve Bannon assisting.

Clarkson added a second goal just 3:27 later when Vanessa Gagnon scored on passes from Brittany Styner and Jamie Lee Rattray.

“We got off to a better start,” Desrosiers said. “We let in a couple goals right off the bat (in Ithaca) and that’s a team you just can’t get behind. We got that first goal. That was something we wanted to establish ourselves with and kind of got going from there.”

The Big Red, who entered Saturday’s game scoring on 26.3 percent of its power plays, got back into the game at 5:30 of the second period with a power-play goal from Emily Fulton.

But Clarkson held the Big Red to just the one power-play goal in five chances Saturday and outshot the Big Red 31-21.

“I think our (defense) just comes down to hard work, and that’s exactly what we did tonight,” Mercer said. “We outworked them in our end and it showed on the scoreboard for sure.”

One of Clarkson’s hardest workers Saturday was also the leading scorer in the nation, senior Jamie Lee Rattray.

Rattray hustled on both ends of the ice, often won fights for pucks along the boards and also blocked shots.

“She is a competitive kid,” Desrosiers said. “She wants to do whatever it takes to win. She’s blocking shots, chipping pucks out and doing all the smart little things. It’s not just in games, she does that every day in practice, too. She sets a good example for the rest of the team and they see the success that she’s been having.”

Rattray, who became Clarkson’s all-time leading scorer two weeks ago, and the school’s leader in goals scored Friday, added another goal to her tally at 12:36 of the second period to conclude the scoring.

But the Patty Kazmaier Award candidate felt some relief to have the records behind her; they were not the goals she really is seeking.

“I’m ready to win some games as a team and I think we’re ready to go down the home stretch,” Rattray said. “We always talk about how important little plays are and we did those little plays tonight. I think that’s one of the reasons we won. It’s a lot of fun with this group. We have some great girls in this locker room. Every weekend we bring it and it’s pretty fun to be part of.”


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