POTSDAM Its not surprising that Dartmouth womens hockey coach Mark Hudak is leaving town very impressed with the Clarkson University team.
The Golden Knights defeated Dartmouth 2-0 Saturday afternoon at Cheel Arena to sweep a first-round ECAC Hockey playoff series, winning both games by 2-0 scores.
In four games against Dartmouth this season, Clarkson outscored the Big Green 13-1, outshot them 143-69 and killed 22 of 23 penalties.
Clarksons good, Hudak said. Theyve got a lot of people out there with experience and a lot of people that can do some damage. They also do a really good job defensively. We really couldnt get anything generated. Clarkson is as good, if not the best team, weve played all year.
Clarksons win means that the Golden Knights, who won the regular-season title, will be hosting the ECAC Hockey championship weekend beginning Saturday with two semifinal contests. The conference championship game will be on Sunday. Times have not been set because Clarksons mens team is also hosting a first-round playoff series against Princeton.
Its great, Clarkson co-coach Matt Desrosiers said of hosting the championship weekend. I know our players are excited. Its going to be great for them. Theyve worked hard for it. Its going to be exciting for Clarkson to be able to hold and event like this and get some national exposure with the final game here.
Clarkson (27-4-5 overall) started off strong Saturday, outshooting the Big Green 13-1 in the first period and taking a 1-0 lead at 18 minutes, 58 seconds on a goal from Cayley Mercer, off quick passes from Olivia Howe and Cayleys older sister, Carly.
I didnt really see (the goal), but I had Carly coming by the side of the net with her hands up and thats how I kind of knew it went in, Cayley Mercer said. We caught a little bit of luck with (a defender) falling down, and we moved the puck well. It was good communication on our part.
Things got sloppy in the second period as both teams combined for six penalties, with Clarkson picking up four of them. That gave Dartmouth (9-20-1) a chance to build some offensive momentum and the Big Green outshot Clarkson 13-8 in the second period.
But Clarkson did what Dartmouth was unable to do in the middle period, taking a 2-0 lead at 11:07 when Christine Lambert put in the rebound of a shot from Shannon MacAulay, extending the Golden Knights lead to 2-0.
Clarkson went back to its dominant defensive form in the third period, holding Dartmouth to just two shots as goalie Erica Howe finished with 16 saves for her 13th shutout of the season.
Clarksons defense, led by Patty Kazmaier finalist Erin Ambrose, has only allowed 39 goals in 36 games, and the Golden Knights have killed 93 percent of their penalties.
I think we did a great job of shutting them down, said Ambrose, who has a plus-42 rating this season. We didnt give them a lot of opportunities. As a whole, we did a really good job as a team. We are really solid defensively and I think we pride ourselves in that. We block a lot of shots and we do what we have to do to get it done.
Clarksons semifinal opponent is not known because Yale and Harvard are going to a deciding third game today in Boston. If Yale wins, it will meet the Golden Knights in the first semifinal. If Harvard wins, Clarkson will then face Quinnipiac in the first semifinal. Cornell will be the other team taking part next weekend.
QUINNIPIAC 2, ST. LAWRENCE 1
Shiann Darkangelo scored the game-winning goal and provided an assist as the fourth-seeded Bobcats outlasted the No. 5 Saints in Hamden, Conn., to win the best-of-three ECAC quarterfinal series, 2-0.
Kelly Babstock provided the other goal, and Chelsea Laden stopped 25 shots for Quinnipiac (22-5-9), which faces either top-seeded Clarkson or No. 3 Cornell on Friday based on the winner of the series between second-seeded Harvard and No. 7 Yale.
Mel Desrochers scored a power-play goal with 2:02 left in the third to draw St. Lawrence (13-19-3) within one. Carmen MacDonald made 19 saves.