POTSDAM - Four first-period goals lifted the 4th-ranked Clarkson University womens hockey team by the Rensselaer Engineers 6-0 on Friday night at Cheel Arena.
The victory improves the Golden Knights to 24-4-5 (15-2-4 ECAC Hockey) while the loss drops the Engineers to 10-19-3 (6-13-2). Clarkson is now unbeaten in 15 straight games (12-0-3) and moves into sole possession of first place following a Cornell loss and a Harvard tie this evening. Clarkson can lock up the top seed in the upcoming ECAC playoffs with a win on Senior Day tomorrow afternoon against Union College at 4 pm.
Clarkson struck first at the 3:59 mark when senior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) fought for the puck behind the RPI net. After gaining possession she served the puck in front of the net to sophomore Olivia Howe (Moose Jaw, SASK), who quickly flicked the puck by RPI goaltender Brianna Piper to give the Knights the 1-0 lead. The goal was her eighth of the season and sophomore Cayley Mercer (Exeter, ONT) also assisted on the play.
The Knights waited exactly two minutes before adding to their lead as senior Vanessa Gagnon (St. Constant, QUE) redirected a shot from the point by senior Vanessa Plante (Riviere-du-Loup, QUE) for her 14th goal on the season to double the Clarkson lead to 2-0. Senior Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) earned an assist as well.
Clarkson would add a third goal at the 17:32 mark in the first period as Olivia Howe controlled the puck to the right of the net before passing out to sophomore Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) at the blue line. Ambrose found senior Shelby Nisbet (Wiseton, SASK) streaking toward the net across the ice and Nisbet finished with a wrist shot that gave the Knights a 3-0 lead and ended Pipers night.
The Knights were not done as Rattray fought for the puck in the RPI zone and dug it out to senior Brittany Styner (Calgary, ALB). Styner steered the puck behind the RPI net before finding Ambrose to the right of the net, who finished the shot to put the Knights up 4-0 late in the first period.
Senior goaltender Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) was rarely tested throughout the game as the Engineers only managed three shots in each period. The nine saves on the evening were good for her 11th shutout on the season, tying her for best in the country.
The scoring would continue early in the second period as the Knights found the back of the net again at the 2:50 mark. The Engineers mishandled the puck behind their own net and junior Daniella Matteucci (Fruitvale, BC) gained possession in the attacking zone. Working her way around RPI defenders, she found Rattray who fired a shot on net that beat backup goaltender Kelly OBrien for her 26th goal of the year to put Clarkson up 5-0.
Following a body-checking penalty, the Knights added to their lead with a power-play goal. Freshman Genevieve Bannon (Candiac, QUE) passed to Cayley Mercer in the attacking zone, who then dished to Gagnon. The senior would finish in front of the net for her second goal of the game and 15th of the season to put the Knights up 6-0.