POTSDAM - An impressive effort on the penalty kill and a hat trick from junior Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) highlighted the Clarkson University womens hockey teams performance against second-ranked Harvard University, as the Golden Knights sent the Crimson to its first conference loss of the season, a 3-1 defeat in front of 315 fans Friday night at Cheel Arena.
The Golden Knights, ranked seventh in the country, improved to 19-6-0 overall and 11-2-0 in ECAC Hockey, while second-rated Harvard fell to 16-2-1 overall and 13-1-0 in league games. Clarkson will host Dartmouth College on Saturday, while the Crimson will travel to St. Lawrence.
The first few minutes of the opening period saw the two teams feeling one another out as nothing resembling a shot was presented for more than three minutes. However, just a moment later, Clarkson was on the scoreboard with a power-play goal. The Crimson was whistled for too many players on the ice, and 32 seconds later the Knights cashed in. Junior Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) took a shot in the slot, which was denied by Harvard goalkeeper Emerance Maschmeyer. Fortunately for the Knights, the puck found its way over to the stick of Rattrays classmate Carly Mercer, who finished off the play by stuffing in the rebound on Maschmeyers glove side. The goal, Mercers 10th on the season, was the earliest scored by a Harvard opponent all season long (19 games).
Harvard would tie the game up nine minutes later with a power-play marker of its own. Kelsey Romatoski sent a pass from the top of the right circle down near the end line to Kaitlin Spurling. There, the senior took her time to wait for a skater on the opposite of the ice to fill the opening and Kailey Armstrong glided in for an easy one-timer past the stick of Clarkson goaltender Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT).
The second period would be scoreless, though Harvard would certainly have its opportunities. The Crimson began the period on the power play for 37 seconds, and the Golden Knights were whistled for three more penalties in the period. Harvard enjoyed 5 minutes, 16 seconds of action with an extra skater due to Clarkson penalties, but the Knights penalty killing unit was up to the task, allowing only one shot on goal. In fact, the Knights probably had the best scoring chance of the period when a penalty ended and a two-on-one play developed quickly going the other direction, but the Crimson stopped the rush.
After killing off the final 1:21 of a penalty, Clarkson quickly returned to the offensive in the third period. A moment almost of slow motion occurred for what proved to be the game-winning goal. With Maschmeyer down on the ice after making a stop, no one was around Mercer, who calmly lifted the puck over the Harvard goaltenders stick, again at the glove side post, for her second goal at the 2:35 mark. The junior center completed her first career hat trick seven minutes later on the power play. Freshman Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) blasted a shot from the point and the puck, for a third time, found the stick of Mercer at the post, where she took two swipes at it before it crossed the goal line.
Howe was strong in the Clarkson net, aided by a considerable effort from the Clarkson defense, making 18 saves as Harvard has a season-low 19 shots. Maschmeyer made 22 stops for the Crimson. Howes effort provided her with her 18th victory of the season and the 50th of her career, a new Clarkson standard, surpassing the 49 victories recorded by Lauren Dahm.