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Clarkson gains sweep in overtime

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POTSDAM — Joe Zarbo had to rely on the noise of the crowd to realize his backhanded shot had slipped past Colorado College goalie Josh Thorimbert for the game-winning goal.

Zarbo’s shot came with just 9.9 seconds left in overtime and gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 win over Colorado College, completing a weekend sweep of a nonconference series before 2,363 fans at Cheel Arena Saturday.

“I was just trying to drive wide and throw it on net,” Zarbo said. “I just kind of heard the crowd react and I was pretty happy about that. It definitely wasn’t going to be something pretty, it was going to be a hard goal. I wouldn’t consider it a garbage goal, but I’d say it just came from working hard. I’d say we were all over them all game and I think we deserved that.”

The numbers bear out Zarbo’s theory that Clarkson deserved the win. The Golden Knights outshot Colorado College 43-18, including a 9-2 edge in overtime. The most shots the Tigers had in any period was six.

“I thought the hockey was good this weekend,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “I thought we generated enough chances tonight, but I thought (Thorimbert) was good in nets down at the other end. Overall, I’m satisfied with the weekend. (Zarbo) kind of cut right across. Every now and then you get an angle there. It was a good shot. It went back against the grain. He’s one of our young guys that has the ability to score and I thought it was a good play by him.”

Clarkson (6-1-1 overall) played even with the Tigers in the opening period, with just a 6-5 edge in shots. But starting in the second period the Golden Knights took control of the game and held a 28-13 edge in shots on the Tigers in the second and third periods.

“I thought the third period we went out there with the intent to win the game,” Jones said. “You could sense that we had a good resolve on the bench, that we were just going to continue to stick to our process and get pucks in there. We were a little better at getting pucks into the paint and at his pads and that. That was something we talked about. We were missing some of that early in the game and trying to get a little cute offensively.”

While Thorimbert was facing a lot of shots, Clarkson freshman Steve Perry had the equally difficult challenge of staying sharp even though a lot of the game was going on at the other end of the ice.

Perry finished with 18 saves and earned his second shutout of the season. Perry, who has split time with sophomore Greg Lewis, a childhood friend, has put together some impressive numbers to start his college career.

Among goalies who have played in more than one game, Perry is second in the nation in goals-against average (1.20), third in save percentage (.948) and tied for the national lead with his two shutouts.

“Any time you are not getting a lot of action it’s tough, but you have to stay emotionally invested in the game and really play focused,” Perry said. “I can’t say enough about how well the (defense) played. In the first period a lot of the shots I didn’t see, everything was blocked. From the beginning of the game (Paul Geiger) had that big block in front and everybody just played really well and was buying in. It was fun to watch.”

The numbers have been equally impressive for Clarkson’s defense this season. The team has allowed an average of just 1.50 goals-per game, which ranks second nationally to Denver’s 1.40 among teams which have played more than one game.

“I thought we did a good job (defensively),” Jones said. “A lot of times your shot chart is reflective of whether or not your goaltender gave up rebounds and I thought our guys did a good job swallowing shots up tonight and cleaning pucks to the corner so they didn’t give a lot of second-chance opportunities. One thing we did a good job of was congesting the middle and front of the net to make it difficult for them to get shots in there.”

Clarkson’s 6-1-1 overall record is the best start for the program since the 2006-07 squad. The Golden Knights begin ECAC Hockey play next weekend with games at Brown and Yale.

“I think it’s great for us, 6-1-1 in the first eight,” Will Frederick said. “Guys have a lot of confidence, but we’re going to head into the week looking to get better. Our conference is tough this year. I don’t think there’s a weak team in our conference.”

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