POTSDAM It took only 20 good minutes for the Clarkson University mens hockey team to pick up its first victory in the second half of the season.
The Golden Knights struggled for the first two periods but controlled the third and edged Merrimack 3-2 before 2,362 fans in a nonconference game Friday at Cheel Arena.
Not only did the win snap a four-game winless streak, which saw Clarkson start the 2014 portion of its schedule 0-3-1, it was also Clarksons first win over a Hockey East opponent in 11 tries. Clarkson had gone 0-9-1 since defeating Boston College in Cheel Arena in 2008.
The Golden Knights (13-6-2 overall), ranked No. 11 in the nation, were outshot 19-9 in the first two periods by a 4-10-3 Merrimack squad.
But Clarkson outshot the Warriors 10-3 in the final 20 minutes and won the game on a goal from Jeff DiNallo at 7 minutes, 42 seconds of the third period.
We needed (DiNallos goal), because we werent very good for two periods of play, Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. We didnt have a whole lot of energy, a whole lot of emotion, a whole lot of battle in us for 40 minutes. I thought they were the better team. We needed a good third period. We came out and I thought we had good drive and we competed hard for pucks.
We werent ready to play at the start of the game and thats on me as a coach. Ill look at what I did and preparation going in. But its our first full week back of practice. Ill have to do some refelction on that myself. I thought we dug down in the third period.
Clarkson came out strong right from the start of the third period, and DiNallos goal was an example of the teams work ethic in the final 20 minutes as it came on the third rebound of a shot originally taken by Kevin Tansey.
We were kind or grinding down low, playing our style of game, moving pucks down low and (the puck) popped out to me, DiNallo said. I went to go take a shot and four guys jumped in front of me. I shot it and it bounced over to (Allan McPherson). He shot it and it bounced back over to me. I had an open net so I just beared down and put it back. The third period we were playing our style of hockey, so sooner or later we were going to put one in.
Even though the footage from the first two periods probably wouldnt make a Clarkson season highlight film, the Golden Knights did have a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Clarkson didnt enjoy many chances in the first half of the first period, but Merrimacks Kyle Singleton was called for holding with about five minutes to play in the period.
The Warriors couldnt touch the puck to get a whistle stop and Jarrett Burton wound up scoring the first goal for Clarkson at 15 minutes, 14 seconds of the period before the power play could begin.
(This) was a really important game for us, Burton said. We didnt have the start from break that we really wanted to have, so it was important to get a good game under our belt. Last weekend was definitely a learning point.
After Burtons goal Clarkson got to start its power play and 24 seconds into it Paul Geiger put the Golden Knights up 2-0 with a goal on a shot from inside the blue line.
We got off to an OK start there with two quick goals, Geiger said. We fought back in the third period and I thought we played a good third period and got pucks deep and worked hard. Merrimack got back into the game with a power-play goal from Brian Christie with 10.2 seconds left in the first period and the Warriors tied the game 2-2 when Josh Myers scored at 4:14 of the second period.
I think they got off to a good start in the third and I dont know if we responded the way we needed too, Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said. With that said, thats a game we should win. I thought we played well enough to do better than we did tonight. Thats the 11th-ranked team in the country, were playing in their barn, and we held them to 19 shots on net and lose the game, which is the end result. But we gave ourselves plenty of chances to win that game.
nNOTES: Jones gave freshman goalie Ville Runola, a native of Raisio, Finland, his first career start Friday and he stopped 20 of 22 shots (.909). Jones said Runola competes hard in practice and has impressed teammates with his work ethic. Merrimacks starting goalie, Rasmus Tirronen, is from Espoo, Finland. ... Clarksons last game against Merrimack, prior to Friday, was on Jan. 20, 1989, and the Golden Knights last win over Merrimack came on Nov. 20, 1970. ... Clarksons Joe Zarbo missed his second straight game due to illness.