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Clarkson men’s hockey team takes on Princeton, top-ranked Quinnipiac

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POTSDAM - As the regular season winds down with six games remaining the Clarkson University men’s hockey team is still in strong contention for a first-round bye in the upcoming ECAC Hockey playoffs.

The Golden Knights, guided by second-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy ’00 and Andy Jones are in eighth place in the tightly-packed league standings with a 6-7-3 conference mark. The Green and Gold, however, are just two points out of third place, but also only two points from falling to 10th. Led by junior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT) and senior assistant captain Andrew Himelson (Monroe, NY), Clarkson owns a 7-14-7 overall record.

The Knights, who have gone 3-2-2 since mid-January, will strive to match the level of play they displayed in two of their biggest wins of the year when they take to the road this weekend. Clarkson plays Princeton at Hobey Baker Rink in New Jersey on Friday at 7 p.m., and then takes on the new number one team in the national polls when it battles Quinnipiac at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, CT on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Clarkson followed up an impressive 6-3 win over longtime nemesis Cornell in Potsdam on February 2 when it knocked off defending ECAC Hockey champion Union 2-1 on Friday at Cheel Arena. The Knights, however, were unable to keep the momentum rolling as the Green and Gold fell to Rensselaer 6-2 on Saturday.

PRINCETON FRIDAY

Princeton is coming off a weekend sweep in Central NY, skating past Colgate 4-2 in Hamilton on Friday and shutting out Cornell 1-0 in Ithaca on Saturday. The Tigers, guided by second-year head coach Bob Prier and former Clarkson forward Tim Marks ’10, who serves as a Princeton assistant coach, is tied for third in the conference with a 7-6-3 league slate. The Tigers stand at 9-10-4 overall. Princeton is 6-2 at Hobey Baker Rink.

Clarkson holds a decisive 73-28-5 lead in the all-time series against Princeton, which began with an 8-5 Knight victory in New Jersey on January 17, 1928. The teams are 5-5 over the past 10 meetings with Clarkson winning the last two, both in Potsdam. Seven different Knights scored in the last meeting, a 7-2 win at Cheel on November 17. Allan McPherson led the Knights’ most productive outing of the season with a four-point (1-3) effort.

Clarkson won the last meeting in 2011-12, 3-2, at Cheel on February 10 with McPherson scoring the winning goal early in the third period.

Princeton handed Clarkson its first shutout loss in the series with a 3-0 blanking at Hobey baker Rink on November 12 last season.

In 2010-11 the teams both skated away with a road win in the series. Princeton snapped a two-game Clarkson win streak in the series by defeating the Knights 4-3 in overtime at Cheel on January 29, 2011. Clarkson defeated Princeton 5-3 at Hobey Baker Rink on December 3, 2010.

The Knights claimed the program’s 10th and last ECAC regular-season crown with a 4-3 victory over Princeton in Potsdam on February 29, 2008.

McPherson leads the way offensively against the Tigers with eight points on three goals and five assists through five games. Ben Sexton has totaled five points (1-4) through four games. Adam Pawlick is the only other Knight with multiple goals against Princeton with two. Greg Lewis posts a .913 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA through 60 minutes against the Tigers.

QUINNIPIAC SATURDAY

The Bobcats of Quinnipiac have been nearly unbeatable this season and were rewarded for their efforts when they were named the number one team in the country in both this week’s USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls. Guided by 19th-year head coach Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac boasts a 21-3-4 overall record and is running away with the ECAC Hockey title with a 14-0-2 league mark. The Bobcats extended their nation-long unbeaten streak to 21 games (18-0-3) by sweeping a series on the road this past weekend. Quinnipiac handed Cornell a 4-1 loss at Lynah Rink and edged Colgate 3-2 at Starr Rink. The Bobcats are 11-2-2 at TD Bank Center. Quinnipiac’s last loss was a 2-1 setback to American International in Hamden on November 6.

Quinnipiac has gone 3-0-1 against the Knights in the last four meetings to take a 9-8-1 lead in their series, which first started with a 4-0 Clarkson win in Northford, CT on February 8, 2000. The Bobcats handed Clarkson a 5-2 defeat at Cheel Arena on November 16 in their first meeting this season.

Quinnipiac took three of four points from Clarkson in 2011-12. The Knights were able to skate away with a 1-1 tie in Hamden, CT on November 11 last year despite being outshot 44-11. Adam Pawlick scored an extra attacker goal in the draw. In a wild affair at Cheel Arena on February 11, the Bobcats scored the only two goals in the third period to pull out a 7-6 victory.

Clarkson’s last win in the series was a 5-3 triumph at the TD Bank Sports Center on December 4, 2010. The Knights won their fifth and last ECAC Tournament title with a 4-2 victory over the Bobcats in Albany on March 17, 2007.

Allan McPherson (2-3) has a team-high five points in the series. Pawlick also has scored a team-high two goals against the Bobcats. Greg Lewis has played 44 minutes against Quinnipiac with a .722 save percentage and a 6.82 goals against average.

KNIGHT KNOTES: After snapping a seven-game winless stretch (0-5-2) against Cornell with a 6-3 win over the Big Red at Cheel Arena on February 2, the Golden Knights follow that up by putting an end to a lengthy drought against Union. Clarkson knocked off the Dutchmen for the first time since January 23, 2009 with Friday’s 2-1 victory at home … The Knights are 3-2-2 since mid-January … Allan McPherson tallied a goal in each game over the weekend to extend his goal-scoring streak to four straight games. He has recorded a point in each of the last five games and leads the Green and Gold in scoring with 22 points on eight goals and a team-high 14 assists. McPherson shares the team lead in power-play goals with four and posts a +9 plus/minus rating … Freshman Patrick Megannety (Oakville, ONT) has posted a solid rookie campaign and is Clarkson’s second-leading scorer with 17 points (7-10) and has connected for three power-play markers and one shorthanded tally, and posts a +6 rating … Sophomore Joe Zarbo (Grand Island, NY) is the Knights’ leading goal scorer with 12, including four on the power play, and has 16 points along with junior Jarrett Burton (Echo Bay, ONT) (8-8) … Sam Labrecque and James Howden provided offense from the blueline over the weekend with both scoring one goal … Howden (5-4), Labrecque (4-5) and freshman Paul Geiger (Stouffville, ONT) share the scoring lead among the Clarkson defensemen with nine points apiece … Howden, who recorded two goals as a freshman, has scored three goals over the past four games … The Knights’ captain Ben Sexton has tallied at least one assist in each of the past three games and as four total during that span. Sexton has 15 points (4-11) on the year … Freshman TJ Moor (Lake St. Louis, MO) has made his mark with the Knights since joining the team at the start of the New Year. He was selected ECAC Hockey Player of the Week on February 4 and has posted three goals and two assists over the past four games. Moor has recorded eight points (3-5) in eight games … Simon Bessette (Granby, QUE) is also enjoying a solid freshman campaign. Playing in 26 games he has scored four goals and added six assists. He is one of the Knights’ top penalty killers and has one shorthanded tally. Bessette has four assists in the past four games … Will Frederick also brings a point-scoring streak into this weekend’s games with a goal and two assists over the past three games. Frederick has 14 points (6-8) in 28 games … Andrew Himelson holds a team-best +10 plus/minus rating … Greg Lewis has started the last 11 games in the Clarkson goal and has played in 26 games overall. He posts a .900 save percentage and a 2.92 goals against average. Lewis made 22 saves in the win over Cornell and 27 in the victory over Union to become the first Clarkson goaltender to post victories over those two teams in the same season since David Leggio ’08 did it in the 2007-08 campaign.

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