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College hockey: Ammon’s goal sinks Clarkson in Game 1

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POTSDAM — An overtime goal by Princeton’s Andrew Ammon has put the Clarkson University men’s hockey team on the brink of another playoff disappointment.

Ammon scored on a slap shot from just inside the blue line at 10 minutes, 38 seconds of overtime Friday, giving the Tigers a 3-2 victory over Clarkson before 1,837 fans in game one of a best-of-three ECAC Hockey first-round series.

“I was just trying to get it on net and it just kind of sailed,” Ammon said. “I didn’t even think it was straight in.”

The 12th-seeded Tigers (6-24 overall) can end the series with a win in game two at 7:30 p.m. tonight. If No. 5 Clarkson wins there will be a deciding game three at 7 p.m. Sunday.

“We have to win two games,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “Coming into the weekend I said it wasn’t going to be easy. They are a team that can generate some offense and they have some good players.”

Clarkson (18-15-4) has lost six straight postseason series, the longest current active streak in the conference.

“Things didn’t end the way we wanted tonight, but we’re confident in that locker room,” Clarkson captain Ben Sexton said. “It’s a three-game series for a reason. Our backs are up against the wall, but I think we’ll definitely respond well tomorrow.”

The Golden Knights beat Princeton twice during the regular season, including a 3-1 win at Cheel Arena on Feb. 28.

But Clarkson did not play one of its better games Friday, struggling in the first and third periods.

“We didn’t manage the puck as well as we could have,” Clarkson’s Pat Megannety said. “We’re going to come back stronger tomorrow.”

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead early in the game when Kyle Rankin finished off a two-on-one breakaway at 4 minutes, 19 seconds, scoring off a pass from Jonathan Liau. Friday’s game was only the second time this season the Tigers held a lead after the first period.

The Golden Knights, who scored three power-play goals against Princeton last Friday, took advantage when the Tigers took four straight penalties in the second period.

Clarkson scored on only one of the power plays, when Will Frederick connected off a nice pass from Sexton to tie the game 1-1 at 3:34 of the second period.

Clarkson then outshot Princeton 11-4 in the second period and took a 2-1 lead when Megannety redirected a pass from Alex Boak past Princeton goalie Colton Phinney with just nine seconds left in the period.

But the Golden Knights gave away the momentum in the third with penalties.

Clarkson took three penalties in the period and Princeton scored a power-play goal at 6:15 on a shot from Andrew Calof to tie the game 2-2. The Tigers outshot Clarkson 11-9 in the third period.

“Clearly it was the difference in the game,” Jones said of the penalties. “They got some momentum off it, especially with the goal there. They had us running around a little bit. I thought we generated enough chances to win the game, and just didn’t.”

Said Princeton captain Jack Berger, “I think we worked a lot on special teams this week and I think we executed that a lot better.”

Clarkson received the better chances in overtime, outshooting the Tigers 10-5, but Ammon’s slap shot sailed over the glove of the Golden Knights’ Greg Lewis for the winner.

“That top line for us played real well with Ammon getting the winner,” said Princeton coach Bob Prier, a former St. Lawrence University player and assistant coach. “The regular season is history. It’s a new season with the playoffs. We worked on some different things. We tried to tighten up our gaps and things like that.”

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