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College hockey: Clarkson forces Game 3 in ECAC playoff opener against Princeton


POTSDAM — An early goal by Jeff DiNallo sparked the Clarkson University men’s hockey team on its way to a 4-0 victory over Princeton, evening an ECAC Hockey first-round playoff series at one game apiece before 2,055 fans Saturday night at Cheel Arena.

Clarkson (19-15-4 overall) will host the Tigers in a deciding game three at 7 tonight with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals. If Clarkson wins, it will play at Cornell.

After a sluggish opener Friday night, losing 3-2 to Princeton (6-25) in overtime, Clarkson looked to get back to the way it played in the three games leading up to the playoffs.

“I thought we came out with great energy in the first period and I thought that kind of dictated the game for us,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “I thought it was a good effort from the drop of the puck. I thought we had a concerted effort from our whole roster, which was important.”

DiNallo, a sophomore, scored on the first shot of the game for the Golden Knights just 54 seconds into the game. He was tripped on the play and put the shot past Tigers goalie Sean Bonar as he was falling to the ice. Allan McPherson and Christian Powers assisted on the goal.

“It was definitely a great start for our team,” DiNallo said. “To get one that early in the game got our line going. It boosted the morale on the bench from last night when we were kind of down in the dumps after (Princeton’s overtime winner). It was great to get that first one.”

The Golden Knights extended the lead to 2-0 at 10:20 of the opening period on a power-play goal from senior Will Frederick, which was assisted by McPherson and Sexton.

McPherson, another senior, scored his 100th career point on the play. He entered the weekend needing three points to reach the milestone.

“We were ready to go tonight because we didn’t think it was one of our best efforts last night,” McPherson said. “We knew we could come out and work hard and put it to them a little bit.”

McPherson did not make too big a deal about his 100th point.

“It’s a tribute to all the guys who have played with me now and played with me before,” McPherson said. “You can’t really do it without those guys. Those guys are big offensive guys. (Ben Sexton) has been with me the whole way and he’s a big guy and a big part of the success, too. It’s nice to have, but team success is what you want.”

Early in the second period, freshman defenseman James de Haas scored on a shot from the circle to put Clarkson up 3-0 at 4:22.

Clarkson’s final goal came at 10:31 of the second period on another shot from de Haas, who had scored only three goals prior to Saturday’s game.

“It was pretty cool,” de Haas said. “I was just trying to get shots through to the net on both of them. Thankfully enough they found their way though. I thought I had a pretty solid defensive game, too, which is more important at this time of the year.”

The Golden Knights held Princeton to only 24 shots in the game, including just six in the final period.

Freshman Steve Perry played in goal after sitting out the opening game and finished with 24 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.

Princeton, which fell to 1-3 against Clarkson this season and is only 5-24 lifetime at Cheel Arena, was not discouraged despite the rough outing.

“We weren’t really happy with the way we executed tonight,” Princeton captain Jack Berger said. “We didn’t have a great first period and didn’t play the way we wanted to. If we play the game plan that we have it will work out for us (today). We didn’t do a good enough job tonight and we will (today).”

Said Tigers coach Bob Prier, “We had a tough start and that’s the bottom line. It was not a great first period. Beyond that, I didn’t think it was that bad really. We have to be a lot more physical than we’ve been. It’s playoff hockey.”

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