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Clarkson men close out regular season seeking top four finish

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POTDAM - By gaining a hard-earned point on the road in ECAC Hockey action over the weekend in NY’s Capital District region, the Clarkson University men’s hockey team secured a home-ice berth in the upcoming conference playoffs for the second time in three years.

The Golden Knights, guided by third-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy ‘00 and Andy Jones, will now strive to claim a top four spot in the standings as the regular season comes to a close.

Clarkson will host Princeton and 7/8th-ranked Quinnipiac at Cheel Arena this weekend in the final games before postseason play begins. Friday’s game is a 7:30 p.m. with Saturday’s game beginning at 7 p.m.

Led by senior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT) and his six veteran teammates, the Knights post a 10-9-1 ECAC Hockey mark and a 17-14-3 overall record. The Green and Gold, who enter the weekend in sixth place in the conference standings, can finish anywhere from third to seventh in the 12-team league. In the preseason coaches and media polls, Clarkson was tabbed as the last place team in ECAC Hockey.

On Saturday, in the regular-season finale, Clarkson will honor the four-year veterans during Senior Night. Clarkson’s Class of 2014 – Sexton, Alex Boak (Norwood, NY), Jarrett Burton (Echo Bay, ONT), Will Frederick (Allison Park, PA), Mike Garlasco (Mahwah, NJ), Allan McPherson (Kinburn, ONT) and Matt Zarbo (Grand Island, NY) will make their final regular-season appearance before the home crowd. Over their four-year careers, the Knights’ seniors have compiled 57 victories and are leading the Green and Gold to their best season in six years.

Clarkson, which has been hit with injuries during its four-game winless stretch (0-3-1), has struggled offensively since mid-February with a total of just three goals over the past four games. McPherson leads the Knights with 24 points, including a team-high 11 goals. The Green and Gold’s top playmaker, Sexton, who has missed the past four games, follows with 23 points, including 17 assists.

PRINCETON FRIDAY

Princeton, guided by third-year head coach Bob Prier, has struggled during the 2013-14 regular season, but will look to build some momentum for postseason play during its trip to the North Country. The Tigers, who will finish 12th in the ECAC Hockey standings, own a 4-16 league mark and stand at 5-22 overall. Princeton has won just twice in the 2014 portion of the schedule, a pair of one-goal victories. After skating to a 3-2 win at Brown on February 14, which snapped a five-game losing skid, the Tigers have dropped their last three games by a combined score of 17-8. This past weekend in New Jersey, Princeton lost to Colgate (6-1) and Cornell (4-1). The Tigers are 2-9 in road games this season.

Clarkson holds a decisive 75-28-5 lead in the all-time series against Princeton, which began with an 8-5 Knight victory in New Jersey on January 17, 1928. Clarkson is 6-4 over the Tigers in their last 10 meetings with four consecutive victories, including three one-goal wins.

In the first meeting this season, just three weeks ago, the Green and Gold held off the Tigers for a 4-3 win at Hobey Baker Rink in New Jersey on February 8.

Last season, the Green and Gold won 7-2 in Potsdam on November 17, 2012 and 3-2 in New Jersey on February 15, 2013. In its last victory in the series, Princeton handed Clarkson its first shutout loss in the rivalry with a 3-0 blanking in New Jersey on November 12, 2011.

Clarkson is 22-4 against the Tigers at Cheel Arena. The Knights claimed the program’s 10th and last ECAC regular-season crown with a 4-3 victory over Princeton in Potsdam on February 29, 2008.

Allan McPherson leads the way offensively against the Tigers with 10 points on four goals and six assists through seven games. Ben Sexton has totaled six points (1-5) through five games. Jarrett Burton and Matt Zarbo are the only other Knights with multiple goals against Princeton with two. Greg Lewis posts a .920 save percentage, a 2.00 GAA and a 2-0 record through 120 minutes against the Tigers. Steve Perry, who recorded the first win against Princeton this year, owns a .919 save percentage and a 3.00 GAA against the Tigers.

QUINNIPIAC SATURDAY

Although Quinnipiac will fall short in its bid to claim the Cleary Cup as ECAC Hockey regular season champion, the Bobcats are in firm position to claim a first-round playoff bye. Guided by 20th-year head coach Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac needs just one point over the weekend to claim a top-four finish. At 11-6-3 in the league and 21-8-5 overall prior to Friday’s game at St. Lawrence, the Bobcats, currently in third place, can place from 2-6 in the standings. Quinnipiac, however, is slumping at the wrong time and is experiencing its longest losing skid since November 2012. Since shutting out rival Yale 4-0 on February 14, in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship game participants, the Bobcats have lost three straight. Quinnipiac scored just two goals over the weekend at home, falling to Cornell (2-1) and Colgate (3-1) at High Points Solution Arena. The Bobcats are 7-4-2 on the road this season.

Quinnipiac has gone 5-0-1 against the Knights in the last six meetings to take an 11-8-1 lead in their series, which first started with a 4-0 Clarkson win in Northford, CT on February 8, 2000. In their first meeting this season, the Bobcats doubled up the Green and Gold 6-3 in Hamden, CT on February 7.

Last season Quinnipiac handed Clarkson a 5-2 defeat at Cheel Arena on November 16 and eked out a 2-1 win at TD Bank Sports Center on February 16. Quinnipiac took three of four points from Clarkson in 2011-12. The Knights were able to skate away with a 1-1 tie in Hamden, CT on November 11, 2011 for its last point in the series. Clarkson’s last win in the series was a 5-3 triumph at the TD Bank Sports Center on December 4, 2010. Quinnipiac holds a 5-4 lead over Clarkson at Cheel Arena, including three straight wins. The Knights’ last victory over the Bobcats in Potsdam was a 4-1 triumph on February 13, 2010.

The Knights won their fifth and last ECAC Tournament title with a 4-2 victory over the Bobcats in Albany on March 17, 2007.

Allan McPherson (4-3) has a team-high seven points in the series. Jarrett Burton, Ben Sexton, Paul Geiger and James de Haas are the only other current Knights to have scored a goal against the Bobcats. Greg Lewis has played 103 minutes against Quinnipiac with an. 865 save percentage and a 4.08 goals against average. Ville Runola got his second NCAA start in the game at Quinnipiac three weeks ago and made 30 saves on 36 shots.

KNIGHT KNOTES: Senior Matt Zarbo (Grand Island, NY) is one of ten finalists nationally for the 2013-14 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate hockey. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The finalists were chosen by national media from the list of 20 candidates announced in November. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Men’s Frozen Final Four® in April … The Green and Gold, who will be hosting an ECAC Hockey playoff series at Cheel Arena either next weekend or the following week, will have played at home in the league playoffs in two of the first three years under head coach Casey Jones … After battling back for the tie at RPI on Saturday, the Knights are hoping to use the momentum to rekindle their offense. Clarkson has been outscored 14-3 in the last four games … Clarkson has played in an NCAA-high 23 one-goal games, going 13-7-3 in those contests. The Knights have struggled in the tight games recently, going 1-4-1 in the past six nail-biters ... Clarkson has gone 1-1-3 in overtime games this season … The Green and Gold are 13-4-1 when scoring first, but just 1-7-1 when trailing after the opening 20 minutes … Clarkson is 10-1-1 when holding the lead through two periods, but 1-8-1 when behind after 40 minutes … Allan McPherson has tallied a team-high 11 goals and 24 points. He is tied for the fifth most game-winning goals in the country at five. The Knights are 9-1 when McPherson scores a goal. The senior center is closing in on the Century Mark with 39 goals and 56 assists through 142 games … Kevin Tansey celebrated his 21st birthday on February 22 with his fourth goal of the season from the blueline for the tying goal against RPI … The Knights’ first goal at RPI came from Joe Zarbo, who broke a scoreless stretch of 112 minutes for the Green and Gold with his first goal since connecting for the game-winner in the 4-3 victory at St. Lawrence on December 7. He has six goals for the season … Jarrett Burton helped to set up both goals against the Engineers … With limited depth among the Knight forwards due to injuries, the Clarkson coaching staff moved freshman defenseman James de Haas (Mississauga, ONT) up front, centering the Green and Gold’s fourth line for Saturday’s game … Making his first start in eight games, Greg Lewis gave Clarkson a chance to earn points at RPI with a 33-save effort, including 24 in the first two periods when the Knights were outshot by a 2-to-1 margin. Lewis has played in 16 games and owns a .896 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against average en route to an 8-5-1 record … Freshman Steve Perry (Ligonier, PA) and has played in 18 games with a .905 save percentage, a 2.40 goals against average and an 8-8-2 record with three shutouts … Freshman Ville Runola (Raisio, Finland) has made two NCAA starts and holds a .862 save percentage, a 4.02 GAA and a 1-1 record … Clarkson is 9-5-1 at home this season, but has lost its last three games in Potsdam … Clarkson won its last two ECAC Hockey titles playing against Princeton and Quinnipiac. Clarkson won its fifth and last ECAC Tournament title with a 4-2 victory over the Bobcats in Albany on March 17, 2007 … The Knights claimed the program’s 10th and last ECAC regular-season crown with a 4-3 victory over Princeton at in Potsdam on February 29, 2008.

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