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College hockey: Clarkson reclaims spark with sweep

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POTSDAM — If the Clarkson University men’s hockey team had lost what made it successful in the first half of the season, it appears to have found it again.

The Golden Knights defeated Brown 3-2 before 2,630 fans in an ECAC Hockey game at Cheel Arena, earning a home sweep for the weekend and getting back on course after going 1-4-1 in six games against Hockey East teams after Christmas break.

Like it did in the first half of the season, Clarkson (15-7-2 overall, 8-2 conference) found ways to make big plays when it mattered in the third period and improved to 12-3-2 in games decided by one goal this season.

“We found a way to win, that’s a little bit of our unofficial mantra,” Clarkson senior Allan McPherson said. “I think a game like tonight was kind of reminiscent of what we had in the first half of the year for sure. We kind of had a slow start to 2014, but this weekend really solidified ourselves to get back rolling.”

Clarkson’s game-winning goal Saturday came during a power play when McPherson, near the blue line, found classmate Will Frederick alone just outside the crease and sent him a quick pass. Frederick lofted a shot over the shoulder of Brown goalie Tyler Steel for the eventual game-winner at 5 minutes, 45 seconds of the third period.

“This was a big weekend,” Frederick said. “We obviously had a little blip in the schedule where we lost a few games we shouldn’t have in conference. Sweeping is huge when it comes down to conference standings. That was probably the best 120 minutes we’ve had in a weekend all year. It’s good for us to build upon.”

Clarkson got off to a strong start against Brown (7-7-3, 4-5-1), outshooting the Bears 12-2 in the first part of the game and taking a 1-0 lead on a shot from McPherson at 2:48 of the opening period.

“(Defenseman Bryan Sinz) threw it toward the net and it might have hit a shin pad or two and ended up in my area and I put it in,” McPherson said.

The Bears did not score in the opening period, but worked their way back into the game, cutting Clarkson’s shots edge to 16-13, and then tied the game just 61 seconds into the second period on a shot from Mark Naclerio.

“I think they compete hard,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said of the Bears. “It’s just a game where there were ebbs and flows. You are going to have that with good hockey teams. I thought they worked themselves into it late in the first period and it carried over for them into the second.”

T.J. Moor gave Clarkson a 2-1 lead at 10:09 of the second period by scoring a goal on a breakaway, which was set up with a long pass from Sinz.

“That was a great pass, a great look to feed me,” Moor said. “I was open in the middle. I like those (breakaway) plays, those are good to have. I just try to find what’s open and shoot for it.”

Brown controlled most of the middle period, despite giving up the breakaway goal, and tied the game again at 16:46 off a shot from Massimo Lamacchia.

“I thought it was a great game,” Brown coach Brendan Whittet said. “I just think (Clarkson) is a good hockey team. They battle really hard and they don’t give you a lot and they are good in a lot of little areas, faceoffs and just defensive coverage and the way they play really, really hard.”

While Clarkson staggered in the second period, the Golden Knights controlled the third, outshooting Brown 11-6 and taking advantage of the power-play opportunity to produce the winning goal.

“I thought we were resilient there tonight,” Jones said. “I thought we came out in the third period and we settled back in. Little things were bothering us and we just trusted the process, and we hung on at the end.”

The only negative for the Golden Knights was some late-game pressure by Brown that led to a tussle after time expired. Golden Knights captain Ben Sexton, as well as Brown’s Lamacchia, were each given game disqualification penalties for fighting. Sexton will miss Clarkson’s game Friday night at Colgate and Lamacchia will miss Brown’s home game against Yale.

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