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Clarkson women look to continue strong hockey start against North Dakota

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POTSDAM - Owning a 7-1 overall record, a 2-0 mark in ECAC Hockey and ranked fourth in the national polls, the Clarkson University women’s hockey team is celebrating the start of its 10th season of NCAA Hockey action in style.

Guided by fifth-year co-head coaches Matt and Shannon Desrosiers, and assistant Matt Kelly, the Golden Knights are off to the best start in the program’s history. Led by junior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) and senior assistant captain Hailey Wood (Lethbridge, ALB), Clarkson will face its third ranked opponent in the early going of the 2012-13 campaign when its travels out west this weekend. The Green and Gold will face off against WCHA powerhouse, 9th-ranked North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Friday and Saturday. Both games are 3:07 p.m. starts EST.

In previous action against Top 10 opponents, Clarkson opened the season with a sweep of 7th/8th-ranked St. Lawrence (1-0, 3-2) in a non-league home-and-home series on October 5-6, and split a two-game series on the road against 7th/8th-ranked Mercyhurst (3-0, 3-4).

The Knights are excelling both offensively and defensively, and have been strong in specialty teams’ play. Clarkson is tied for fifth in Division I in offense, scoring 3.88 goals per game and boasts the third-ranked defense, allowing only 1.25 gpg. The Knights’ power play is the best in the country, clicking at 40% (14-35), while the penalty-killing unit is fifth in the nation at 90.5% (38-42).

Clarkson’s leading scorer, junior Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) is ranked eighth in the nation in points per game (2.12) with eight goals and nine assists through eight games. Rattray is tied for first in power-play goals (4) and game-winners (3).

The top scoring defenseman in the country, Erin Ambrose has tallied 15 points, including a team-high 13 assists, and is averaging 1.88 points per game in her collegiate debut. She quarterbacks the Green and Gold’s top-ranked power play with 10 points (2-8) coming on the man-advantage. Ambrose was named ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week for the second time this season

Erica Howe, who has started seven games this season, is ranked among the nation’s Top 10 goaltenders with a .949 save percentage (8th) and a 1.29 goals against average (9th). She is tied for second in the country in shutouts (3).

Ranked in the Top 10 of the latest national polls, North Dakota takes a break from WCHA play as it hosts Clarkson, its first non-conference foe of the season. North Dakota stands at 4-4 overall and in the WCHA and closes out a six-game home stand this weekend. In its last action, North Dakota suffered a pair of losses to #1-ranked Minnesota, falling 5-1 and 4-2 last weekend in Grand Forks.

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