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2nd-ranked Clarkson women play weekend series against Syracuse

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POTSDAM - A highly successful first half of the season comes to a close for the Clarkson University women’s hockey team this weekend as the Golden Knights battle Syracuse University in non-league play during a home-and-home series.

Guided by fifth-year co-head coaches Matt and Shannon Desrosiers and assistant Matt Kelly, Clarkson hosts Syracuse on Friday in a 7 p.m. game at Cheel Arena, and then travels to Syracuse on Saturday to face off against the Orange in Central NY in a 3 p.m. contest.

The Green and Gold, led by junior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) and senior assistant captain Hailey Wood (Lethbridge, ALB) have been one of the top teams in the nation throughout the first half of the season and are currently ranked second in the country. The Knights stand at 13-3 overall and are tied for second in the ECAC Hockey standings with a 7-1 league mark.

Clarkson closed out 2012 conference play this past weekend at Cheel Arena with an inspiring victory and a surprising loss. The Knights played one of their best games of the season on Friday when they skated past league rival, #3-ranked Cornell 2-1 before 751 fans. Junior Brittany Styner (Calgary, ALB) and freshman Shannon MacAulay (Mt. Herbert, PEI) supplied the goals and junior Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) was solid in the crease with 29 saves. MacAulay came through with the game-winner, on the power play midway through the third period to break a 1-1 tie.

On Saturday, the Knights suffered a letdown after their fifth victory of the season over a Top-10 team and Colgate took full advantage to hand the Green and Gold a 2-1 loss. Junior Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) scored Clarkson’s lone goal late in the third period, but the Knights were not able to come up with the equalizer.

One of the top players in the nation, Rattray paces the Clarkson offense, which is ranked 11th in the country, averaging 3.19 goals per game. She has 26 points, including a team-high 14 goals, and leads Division I in game-winning goals with five. Mercer has 22 points and is the Knights’ leading playmaker with 17 assists. The top offensive rookie defenseman in the country, averaging 1.29 points per game, freshman Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) posts 18 points, including 16 assists.

Howe backstops a Clarkson defense that is ranked third in the country, allowing only 1.31 goals per game. Ranked among the top netminders in the nation, Howe holds a .945 save percentage (5th), a 1.34 goals against average (6th) and is tied for third in Division I in shutouts with 3. Howe was selected as ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Month for November after also earning the honor in October.

Syracuse, guided by former St. Lawrence head coach, Paul Flanagan, is 9-6-1 overall and holds a 4-1-1 mark in College Hockey America play. The Orange have gone 5-2-1 since November 1. Syracuse closed out a five-game home stand by splitting a weekend series against league foe Robert Morris, losing on Friday 2-1 before winning 4-3 on Saturday.

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