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Clarkson men make Cheel debut Saturday against Holy Cross

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POTSDAM - The Clarkson University men’s hockey team opens its 22nd season at Cheel Arena on Saturday when the Golden Knights host Atlantic Hockey foe the College of Holy Cross in a non-conference contest.

Clarkson will also be honoring former Golden Knight All-American and National Hockey League standout Craig Conroy ’94 when his uniform #7 is raised to the Cheel Arena rafters just prior to the 7 p.m. faceoff between the Knights and Crusaders.

The Green and Gold, guided by second-year head coach Casey Jones and assistant coaches Phil Roy ’00 and Andy Jones, are coming off a pair of hard-working efforts out west last weekend. Led by junior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT) and senior assistant captain Andrew Himelson (Monroe, NY) Clarkson proved to be a resilient team against perennial WCHA powerhouse Colorado College. The Knights, however, came up just short in their bid to claim the program’s first-ever victory over the Tigers, coming out on the wrong end of a pair of 5-4 scores on the 100x200-foot ice sheet at the World Arena in Colorado Springs.

In its first official game of the 2012-13 campaign, Clarkson found itself trailing 5-1 early in the third period of Friday’s contest, but battle back to make a game of it. Freshmen Pat Megannety (Oakville, ONT) and Simon Bessette (St. Jean, QUE), and Sexton tallied down the stretch, but Colorado College was able to hold off the Knights in the final minutes to preserve the win.

Four different players scored goals for Clarkson on Saturday, but the Tigers were able to pull out another close victory, connecting for the winning score with just one minute remaining in regulation. Junior Allan McPherson (Kinburn, ONT) led Clarkson offensively with a game-high three points on one goal and two assists. The Tigers outshot the Knights 42-21, but freshman goaltender Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) gave Clarkson a chance to gain the road win with a 37-save effort in his first career start.

Megannety, who skated with the Georgetown Raiders in the OJHL last year, emerged as the Green and Gold’s top scorer over the weekend with two goals and one assist. Junior Jarrett Burton (Echo Bay, ONT) also scored in both games over the weekend, equaling his goal total for all of last season. Sophomore James Howden (Edgeley, SASK), scored the first goal on Saturday, and senior Nik Pokulok (Vaudreuil-Dorion, QUE), with an assist in each game, provided the offense from the blueline.

Lewis saw the bulk of the action in Clarkson’s goal over the weekend with one start and 70 minutes of playing time. He posts a .889 save percentage and a 4.26 goals against average. Senior Cody Rosen (Kingston, ONT) started Friday’s game at Colorado College and made 25 saves on 30 shots before leaving midway through the third period suffering from muscle cramps in his legs.

Holy Cross, which defeated St. Thomas, 2-1, in an exhibition game on October 6, officially opens its season with a conference game at Atlantic Hockey foe American International on October 16. The Crusaders, guided by 18th-year head coach Paul Pearl, return 17 players from a squad that went 20-15-4 overall (15-8-4 Atlantic Hockey) last year for the sixth 20-win season in program history and the most wins since 2005-2006 when the Crusaders won a school record 27 games.

Clarkson and Holy Cross will meet for the second consecutive season. Last year the Knights shut out the Crusaders 5-0 at the Hart Recreation Center in Worcester, MA on November 27 in the first ever meetings between the two schools Andrew Himelson and Patrick Marsh scored their first goals of the season in that win.

KNIGHT KNOTES:The Knights have gone 13-6-2 in their first 21 official season openers at Cheel Arena … The Green and Gold have gone 6-0-1 in their home opener the past six seasons ... Last year, Clarkson shut out Sacred Heart 3-0 on October 14 to open the home portion of the schedule ... The last time Clarkson lost its home season-opener was at the start of the 2004-05 campaign with a 5-3 defeat to College Hockey America (CHA) foe Niagara … The Knights posted a 235-105-38 record at Cheel through the arena’s first 21 years … Clarkson is 14-1-2 all-time against Atlantic Hockey (AH) foes at Cheel … The Knights’ lone setback to an AH team at Cheel was a 4-3 overtime loss to Canisius (11/28/08) … Last season the Green and Gold went 6-0-1 against AH competition, outscoring their opponents 28-8 … Freshman Pat Megannety scored a goal in each game at Colorado College and has three points on the season … Allan McPherson also has three points after a one-goal, two-assist outing against the Tigers on Saturday … Jarrett Burton has already equaled last year’s goal total with a score in both games last weekend … Nik Poulok, who recorded just three assists from the blueline last year, set up a goal in both games during the Colorado series … Freshman left wing Simon Bessette (St. Jean, QUE) scored his first college goal in the season opener … Prior to Saturday’s game against Holy Cross, Clarkson will honor former Golden Knight All-American and National Hockey League standout Craig Conroy by retiring his jersey #7. A Potsdam, NY native, Conroy ranks as one of the Green and Gold’s all-time leading scorers with 167 career points (63-104) in 140 games from 1990-94. He was the 1994 Hobey Baker Award Runner-up and All-America in his senior campaign. After playing on Clarkson teams which posted four consecutive 20-plus-win seasons, made three NCAA Tournaments and captured one ECAC regular-season championship and two conference tournament titles, Conroy moved to the NHL. He skated in 1,009 games during his 17-year (1994-2011) NHL career — 507 of those games in a Calgary Flames uniform. He recorded 542 points, including 182 goals, while notching another 30 points in 81 playoff games, playing for Montreal, St. Louis, Calgary and Los Angeles … Conroy’s Jersey (#7) will join those of Dave Taylor ‘77 (#24), Craig Laughlin ‘80 (#22) and Colin Patterson ‘86 (#25) hanging from the Cheel Arena rafters ... Conroy, along with two other former Golden Knight hockey greats – Tom Hurley ’66 and Bill Blackwood ’78, are part of Clarkson’s 2012 Athletic Hall of Fame class that will be inducted earlier on Saturday afternoon.

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