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Clarkson looks forward to hitting road

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POTSDAM — Families were still finishing off their Thanksgiving leftovers the last time the Clarkson University men’s hockey team went on a real road trip.

Clarkson (4-12-6 overall, 3-5-2 ECAC Hockey) will make its first long bus ride since the last weekend of November when it travels to face Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend, beginning with a game at 7 tonight against the Crimson in Boston.

“We’re excited,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “Guys like getting on the road. It’s good camaraderie for the team. We’ll challenge ourselves in two tough environments and we’re looking to take advantage of the situation. It’s hard to get points on the road in this league, and we’ll have to play well to do that.”

For most teams it is difficult to get road points, but for Clarkson, which is just 1-8-2 at Cheel Arena, the road has been kinder. The Golden Knights are 2-4-4 in road games this season and 2-2-1 in conference play.

“I love going on the road,” Clarkson captain Ben Sexton said. “I think the guys do, too. It’s a good chance to spend time together away from all the distractions that are here. It feels like we’ve been home forever.”

Clarkson’s last bus trip of more than three hours was when the team traveled to play Cornell and Colgate on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Clarkson’s last road game was a 10-mile drive to Appleton Arena on Dec. 5 and the Golden Knights have played their last six games at Cheel Arena.

“We’re really excited for it,” junior Jarrett Burton said. “These road trips are really fun and we’ve had some success on the road this year, too.”

A GREAT MEMORY

Clarkson junior defenseman Alex Boak scored the second goal in a comeback tie against St. Lawrence University on Saturday.

The Saints had built a 3-0 lead early in the third period but the Golden Knights rallied with three straight goals to salvage a tie and take three out of four conference points against SLU this season.

The goal was huge for Boak, a Norwood native who has been going to Clarkson/SLU games since he was a little kid.

Boak said his favorite memory of the rivalry was making the trip to Lake Placid in 1999 when he was nine to watch the Golden Knights beat SLU in the ECAC championship game, led by current National Hockey League players Erik Cole, Willie Mitchell and Kent Huskins.

“That was a pretty special moment,” Boak said. “Those guys would come to my school and I would look up to them. It’s cool seeing kids around town now and kids that I know. It’s good to give back to those guys and notice them and say hello.”

Boak is more of a physical, defensive defenseman, so his goals are rare, which made Saturday’s more fun.

“I guess you could say it’s a dream come true,” Boak said. “I’ve been watching Clarkson play St. Lawrence for a long time now. It’s nice to pitch in. I was pretty excited.”

POWER-PLAY SLUMP ENDS?

The first goal in Clarkson’s comeback against SLU on Saturday was a power-play goal from freshman Pat Megannety at 8 minutes, 53 seconds of the third period.

Megannety’s goal snapped an 0-for-26 slump on the power play and was the first power-play goal by the Golden Knights since Nov. 30.

“We just have to concentrate on getting more pucks to the net and try to keep things simple and not rush things,” Burton said. “We’ve been working on that and looking for success this weekend.”

Said Sexton, “We have a couple different looks now. It’s good that we got that one last weekend, we have to build on that. Confidence is a big part of the game and any time you get confidence you have to run with it and keep that going.”

Clarkson has had 88 power-play chances this year while its opponents have 103.

“We hadn’t been skating really well to draw a lot of penalties,” Jones said. “A lot of our games we didn’t have a whole lot of time on the power-play, per say. If you aren’t playing great and aren’t pushing the envelope you aren’t drawing a ton of penalties. When we are taking five or six penalties against teams, they are forcing us to use our sticks and they are skating physical and all that. We have to take it upon ourselves to force teams into five or six penalty kills.”

Sportswriter Cap Carey covers Clarkson University men’s hockey for the Times. You may reach him at ccarey@wdt.net.

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