POTSDAM — The Clarkson University men’s hockey team’s offense is waking up at the right time.
After struggling on the power play the last two weekends Clarkson had its best special teams game of the year Friday night, defeating Princeton 3-1 before 2,240 fans in an ECAC Hockey game at Cheel Arena.
Clarkson, which had gone 1 of 15 with the man advantage for the last four games, scored three power-play goals on four chances Friday against the Tigers. The Golden Knights (18-14-3 overall, 11-9-1 ECAC Hockey) also have scored five goals in their last two games after going through a three-game stretch where they only scored one goal.
Clarkson coach Casey Jones
The win over Princeton (5-23, 4-17) also keeps alive Clarkson’s hopes for a top-four finish in the conference standings and an automatic bye in the first round of next weekend’s ECAC Hockey playoffs.
Clarkson closes the regular season with a game against Quinnipiac at 7 tonight. If Clarkson wins, and Cornell loses or ties its game against Harvard, the Golden Knights would finish in fourth place. Clarkson could also earn fourth place with a tie and a Cornell loss.
The Golden Knights got their first power-play chance early in the game when Princeton’s Alec Rush was called for interference at 4 minutes, 5 seconds.
Just 15 seconds later Allan McPherson gave Clarkson a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal off assists from Jarrett Burton and Paul Geiger.
The Tigers tied the game late in the first period when a turnover near the blue line gave Princeton’s Andrew Calof a breakaway opportunity, which he used to score against Greg Lewis with 1:13 left in the first period.
But Clarkson got another power-play chance just 3:24 into the second period on a boarding call to Princeton’s Eric Carlson, which temporarily injured Clarkson defenseman Kevin Tansey.
The Golden Knights took advantage on a nice passing play which saw McPherson send the puck to Jeff DiNallo, who then sent a pass right in front of the crease which Will Frederick one-timed for the game-winning goal at 5:18.
Princeton’s next penalty came at 9:46 of the second period on a tripping call to Ben Foster and the Golden Knights scored their final power-play goal of the night at 10:32 on a shot from Jarrett Burton, with Frederick and DiNallo assisting.
It was a frustrating night for Princeton coach Bob Prier, a former St. Lawrence University player and assistant coach, who saw his team lose for the 23rd time in 28 games in what has become a long season.
Clarkson clinched its first winning record since 2007-08 with the win and is guaranteed no worse than a sixth-place finish in the standings. The Golden Knights will host a first-round series next weekend unless they move into fourth place tonight.