POTSDAM Two-time defending ECAC Hockey Tournament champion Union College rallied with two goals in the final half of the third period to edge Clarkson 4-3 before 2,655 fans in a mens game Saturday at Cheel Arena.
The Golden Knights (16-10-2 overall, 9-5 conference) twice looked like it might have a chance at upsetting the No. 4 Dutchmen, who were playing without head coach Rick Bennett, who is serving a four-game suspension stemming from a postgame brawl last Saturday in Albany. Union was also missing leading defenseman Mat Bodie, who was suspended for both games this weekend.
The Golden Knights led 2-0 midway through the second period and held a 3-2 lead until there were 10 minutes, 55 seconds left in the game.
It was hard-fought, Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. It was difficult to gain ice in the game. I thought both teams were skating hard and it was a physical game. I thought (Union) played well and got better as the game went on and wound up making one more play than we did.
Clarkson led in the game for 37 minutes and 27 seconds and trailed only 7:26. Clarkson also outshot the Dutchmen 28-26. But Saturdays game marked the third time in the last nine games where they have led 2-0 and not come away with a victory.
Just a few bad bounces here and there and the games completely change, Clarkson goalie Steve Perry said. Thats hockey right there. The biggest thing is we look at the games weve lost this year and other than maybe one or two, they are all one-goal games, so we are right there with everybody. I feel like our work ethics really great, especially this late in the season here.
Clarksons opening goal came 2 minutes, 16 seconds in when defenseman Paul Geiger scored as he was falling down off passes from Jordan Boucher and Jeff DiNallo.
The Golden Knights extended the lead to 2-0 at 7:13 of the second period when defenseman Alex Boak took a hard slap shot that hit the helmet of Union goalie Colin Stevens and deflected several feet into the air. The puck landed behind Stevens and looked like it may have rolled across the line, but it was awarded to forward Jeff DiNallo who saw the puck fly up, waited for it to land and tapped it in.
Boaker fired a rocket right off the goalies head, DiNallo said. I tracked it and saw it fall and I said the puck is going in or Im going in with the puck. I just went to the net, put my stick on the net and drove my body in.
Union (17-6-3, 11-3), which had scored only one goal in each of its last two games both losses woke up with a spurt in the second period to tie the game 2-2 with goals 35 seconds apart.
Daniel Ciampini scored first for Union at 11:03. Max Novak then scored at 11:38 to tie the game just seconds after Kevin Sullivan stole the puck in Clarksons zone.
It was an unbelievably gutsy performance by our guys, Union assistant coach Joe Dumais said.
Clarkson blew a 2-0 lead at Cornells Lynah Rink last Saturday and wound up losing 3-2. This time the Golden Knights handled the adversity a little better, taking a 3-2 lead just 61 seconds into the third period on an unassisted goal by defenseman James Howden.
Novak produced his second game-tying goal of the night at 9:05 of the third period, stealing the puck from behind Clarksons net and putting a shot past Perry.
Unions game-winner came on a shot from Matt Wilkins at 12:34 of the period.
Saturdays game was likely the last collegiate game in the north country for Unions Matt Hatch, a Massena native who had three shots Saturday and finished with a plus-one rating.
I kind of thought about it just a little bit after, skating off the ice, that Ill probably never be out here again, so it was pretty special to get the win, Hatch said. I had a lot of friends and family here. That made it even sweeter.