CANTON — The rivalry that dates back to the early 1900s provided yet another thriller on Tuesday at Appleton Arena.
This time, Clarkson defeated St. Lawrence, 5-3, in a game that was tied with four minutes to play and all the momentum in SLU’s favor.
Mark Armstrong weaved through three Clarkson defenders and beat the nation’s best goaltender just inside the left post at 11 minutes, 45 seconds of the third period.
The goal knotted it 3-3 after SLU (5-10-0 overall, 4-5-0 ECAC) trailed by two nearly all game.
“The place was going pretty wild and the team was playing well,” Armstrong said. “I thought (we would win it). I just wanted that game.”
It sent the already loud crowd of 2,116 into a frenzy. Armstrong, who has just 11 goals in 100 career games, stopped short of saying that it was the best goal of his career.
“It felt the best,” he said.
The feeling lasted 5 minutes, 11 seconds until Matt Zarbo netted the game-winner off an SLU turnover in the neutral zone. Zarbo, who scored the overtime winner against SLU in last year’s Halloween Faceoff at Lake Placid, now has four goals and two game-winners against the Saints in four games.
“We were more focused on just settling down and getting back at them,” Zarbo said. “I just buried the rebound.”
Zarbo’s goal marred an otherwise dominant effort by the Saints over the last two periods after a sluggish start.
Clarkson’s Will Frederick scored on an empty net with under 10 seconds to play to end St. Lawrence’s comeback hopes.
“That was an almost typical Clarkson-St. Lawrence game,” SLU associate head coach Mike Hurlbut said. “To tie the game and then have them score like that on a really soft turnover that ended up in the back of our net it tough.”
The Saints have dropped four straight, three in conference, and Clarkson (9-6-4, 3-4-2) beat St. Lawrence for the fourth consecutive time since a run from 1996-98. The Golden Knights and Saints are now in a four-way tie for third place in the ECAC.
“I liked the way the game was going for the most part,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “They had a good push in the third and I was glad the way we responded.”
Clarkson ended the game how it started — with two unanswered goals. The first came via Joe Zarbo, who took an assist from his brother Mark and beat SLU goalie Matt Weninger only 56 seconds into the game.
Corey Tamblyn then found Frederick for the second score at 10:21 of the first and a 2-0 lead.
“There wasn’t much that needed to be said,” Armstrong said of the first-period intermission. “We all knew what we needed to do playing Clarkson in Appleton. You know you need to step it up.”
But the Saints were playing without top scorer Kyle Flanagan, who has now missed six games with an unspecified upper body injury, and top defenseman George Hughes, who also has an upper body injury that will keep him out until the end of the month.
“It’s challenging, but it’s an opportunity,” Hurlbut said. “We just need contributions from everybody.”
Freshman Chris Martin pulled SLU withitn 2-1 only 1:17 into the second.
Clarkson managed to regain its two-goal edge on a briefly protested goal. Weninger stopped a shot in close and appeared to sit on the puck. Tamblyn raced in and jabbed his stick at the puck, pushing Weninger into the goal and the goal off its moorings.
The goal counted without review despite Weninger pointing to the overhead cameras, pleading for the officials to take a look.
“We don’t even know how that one went in,” Frederick said. “But hey, we’ll take what we can get.”
Jordan Dewey scored at 5:35 of the third for St. Lawrence before Armstrong tied it.
St. Lawrence and Clarkson will air their grievances in a nonconference game at the Festivus Faceoff on Saturday at Lake Placid.
“It’s a great feeling to step on that ice,” SLU’s Greg Carey said. “An Olympic-size ice is built for our team.”