ITHACA Several minutes after Cornells overtime goal ended Clarksons season the teams seniors came out of the locker room, still in uniform, to hug their parents and try to get over a tough ending to their careers.
Clarkson (21-17-4 overall) came close to earning a trip to Lake Placid for the ECAC Hockey semifinals, but Cornell (17-9-5) won the trip instead when Brian Ferlin scored at 12 minutes, 32 seconds of overtime, sending a Lynah Rink crowd of 3,473 fans into a frenzy Sunday night.
A year ago Clarkson was 9-20-7, but this years squad produced the first winning season for the program since 2007-08, led by seniors Allan McPherson, Ben Sexton, Jarrett Burton, Will Frederick, Matt Zarbo, Alex Boak and Mike Garlasco.
I thought (the returnees) can learn from our senior class and the commitment level it took to get here, and the compete-level then need to have to be successful, Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. We have to get some guys stepping into major roles going forward. Our senior class took us on a great journey this year. I couldnt ask more.
Sophomore defenseman Paul Geiger, who could be in line to be a team captain next year, felt bad about the loss, but felt worse for the senior class.
You cant say enough about the work that our seniors have put into this program, Geiger said. Its unbelievable, the time and the effort they spend to bring this program back to where it needs to be. Thats the biggest thing well take from this group of guys, hard work and determination. Were going to build on what theyve demonstrated for us. I really cant say enough about what they have done for this program.
Both teams did a good job Sunday of shutting down the other teams top offensive players.
Clarksons McPherson, Sexton, Burton and Frederick combined for three shots on goal. Cornells top scorers Ferlin, Joakim Ryan, John McCarron and Joel Lowry had 12 shots.
They have some big forwards and both teams did a good job of keeping their top forwards to the side and not giving up too many quality scoring chances, Geiger said. Its a tough way to lose. I thought we played really well tonight. I thought we got pucks deep. We forced their (defense) and we had the chances to score. It was just one of those things. We couldnt find the back of the net. It was really tough.
After giving up four goals in game two Saturday, the Big Red played inspired defense, blocking 27 shots. Clarkson had 18 blocked shots.
I knew there would be limited chances, Cornell assistant coach Ben Syer said. I dont think I would have expected it would have been a 1-0 game either way. I didnt think it would be a high-scoring game.
Clarkson had three good scoring chances to possibly end the game in regulation.
In the first period freshman Troy Josephs was next to the crease and faced an open net on a rebound, but the puck was bouncing and a Cornell defensive player got a stick in to hinder the shot, giving Big Red goalie Andy Iles time to reach over and snag the shot.
With 40.9 seconds left in the second period, Clarkson thought it had scored during a big scramble in front of the net. No goal was called on the play, but officials Peter Feola and Joe Carusone watched a long review before deciding there was no score.
Clarkson sophomore Joe DiNallo received a breakaway chance 7 minutes, 30 seconds into the third period, but Iles made the save. Iles fell into his own net with the puck, but no goal was awarded because a whistle had blown, stopping play.
We battled, it was an unbelievable series, Jones said. For us to play six games in 10 days, the mental toughness we showed tonight was the telling tale of our season.
Iles, an Ithaca native playing his final game in Lynah Rink, finished with 23 saves for the shutout and kissed the logo on center ice after the game was over. Steve Perry finished with 25 saves for the Golden Knights.