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Clarkson hockey notes: Golden Knights goalies have long history

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POTSDAM — Before they were teammates at Clarkson University, goalies Greg Lewis and Steve Perry played for rival teams in the North American Hockey League.

Lewis played for the Wenatchee Wild and Perry was goalie for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.

Before one NAHL game, Lewis skated up to Perry during warmups and said, “I hope you have a really good game, because I’m feeling it today.”

Lewis went on and led the Wild to a win, though Perry said his team won when the teams met in playoff series.

The duo goes back a long way as both are from the Pittsburgh, Pa., area and share a goalie coach back home, Shane Clifford.

“All those (NAHL) games were like a battle, so it was kind of funny playing against each other there, too,” Lewis said.

Lewis, a sophomore who is about six months older than Perry, said the two met when they were eight or nine. They attended the same camps together and got to know each other better when they were teenagers.

But it wasn’t until this fall that they were placed on the same team.

“Over the years, our relationship has grown from playing against each other and being rivals in the NAHL for a while,” said Perry, a freshman. “We spend a lot of time together during the summer, and we know each other pretty well from that. Being on (road trips) together, you learn a lot about each other.”

Clarkson coach Casey Jones knew about Perry and Lewis’s background while he was recruiting Perry last year.

“I know (Clifford) pretty well and that’s where a lot of it initiated and started,” Jones said. “I talked to Greg a bit about Steve, to make sure he was a good teammate and good person and Greg endorsed him as all of the above.”

Said Lewis, “He was one of my good friends, so obviously I wanted him here. I know he’s a great goalie.”

Lewis started almost every game for Clarkson in his freshman year and finished with a 3.02 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage. He also recorded two shutouts.

This season he has split time with Perry. Lewis has started every Friday game for Clarkson and Perry has started the Saturday games.

Through five starts each the goalies have almost identical numbers. Lewis is 4-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He’s given up 10 goals and made 123 saves. Perry is 3-1-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He’s given up 10 goals and has 124 saves.

“I like to think of it as just feeding off each other and being competitive against one another,” Perry said of the statistics.

Lewis may not be getting the same playing time as he did a year ago, but he seems happy with how its made a positive impact on his own performance having Perry around.

“I love it,” Lewis said. “We are friends. We compete on the ice, but it makes us better. It’s a good competition. We each want to be out there every game. I think us going out there every other night, we get our top performances every night. Our goaltending won’t be an issue. We all want the team to win, to do better, we don’t care who is out there.”

Said Perry, “If anything it adds a competition factor, knowing I’ve played against him that long. He’s a good goalie. He pushes me in practice and in games and that’s needed, especially in college.”

Jones said he wanted to give Perry a look early in the season and since Clarkson’s second game at Niagara started at 2 p.m., after a 7 p.m. game the previous night, it provided a good reason to give Perry a start. Perry went out and shut out the Purple Eagles 2-0.

“He took great advantage of his opportunity,” Jones said. “The feedback we got on him (during recruiting) was he would be prepared and that he works really hard. He looks confident and calm in the net, which is what takes sometimes a little bit of time to come.”

As soon as the horn sounded to end the Niagara game one of the first players to congratulate Perry was a smiling Lewis.

“We’re always pushing for each other to do well,” Lewis said. “It makes us do better. You want to go out there the next night and do that much better. I think all goalies have a mutual respect for each other. It’s different when you grow up playing against the same guy.”

Said Perry, “When you are not playing, you have to be the biggest cheerleader out there.”

Sportswriter Cap Carey covers Clarkson University hockey for the Times. He can be reached at ccarey@wdt.net

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