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Clarkson men look to continue playoff momentum at Cornell

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POTSDAM - Advancing in the ECAC Hockey playoffs for the first time in seven years, the Clarkson University men’s hockey team will look to continue its success in 2014 postseason action when the Golden Knights travel to fourth-seeded Cornell for the conference quarterfinal round.

Clarkson, guided by third-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy ‘00 and Andy Jones, will battle the Big Red in a best-of-three game series this weekend at Lynah Rink in Ithaca. The Green and Gold will take on Cornell at 7 p.m. on Friday and again on Saturday at 7 p.m. If necessary the two long-time rivals will play a deciding third game on Sunday at 7 p.m.

In other quarterfinal match-ups No. 8 St. Lawrence is at No. 2 Colgate; No. 10 Dartmouth is at No. 1 Union and No. 6 Yale is at No. 3 Quinnipiac. Winners of the quarterfinal round will advance to the 2014 ECAC Hockey Championship Tournament to be held at the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid.

Clarkson, which finished in fifth place in the ECAC Hockey standings (11-9-2) owns a 20-15-4 overall record. Guided by senior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT) and his six veteran classmates, the Green and Gold are 3-1-2 over their past six games. Clarkson outlasted a stubborn Princeton squad at Cheel Arena to win an ECAC Hockey series for the first time in seven years. The 12th-seeded Tigers pulled out a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 on Friday, but the Knights answered back to take the next two games, winning 4-0 on Saturday and 3-2 on Sunday.

Ranked 12th in the national polls, Cornell skated to a 3-2 overtime win against Harvard at Lynah Rink in the final game of the regular season on March 1 to edge Clarkson out for fourth place in the ECAC Hockey standings. Guided by 19th-year head coach Mike Schafer, the Big Red posted an 11-7-4 league mark and stand at 15-8-5 overall. Cornell went 3-1 to close out the regular season after going 0-3 in its previous three games.

The Knights are 50-20-4 in quarterfinal games. Clarkson has gone 8-17-1 all-time in the ECAC playoffs against Cornell and is 6-8-1 against the Big Red in quarterfinal games.

Clarkson has an 11-10-2 postseason record as the fifth seed.

The Knights have advanced to 31 league championship tournaments and have skated in 13 title games, winning its fifth in 2007 with a 4-2 victory over Quinnipiac in the championship game at the Times Union Center in Albany.

Cornell is Clarkson’s oldest current rival and most familiar opponent in the ECAC Hockey playoffs. The Knights and Big Red have played 26 times in the league’s postseason tournament with Cornell owning a 17-8-1 lead. The two foes met three consecutive years in league postseason play in 2004, 05, 06. Cornell won the last playoff meeting, winning the 2006 quarterfinals in Ithaca with a pair of double overtime victories (4-3, 3-2).

Cornell holds an 8-6-1 advantage over the Green and Gold in the conference quarterfinal round.

Clarkson’s last win over the Big Red in the ECAC Hockey playoffs was a triumph in the 2004 quarterfinals at Lynah Rink. The Knights lost the first game of the series 5-1, but came back with a 5-4 win in Game 2 and a 5-1 victory in Game 3 to complete the comeback.

Cornell and Clarkson first played during the 1922-23 campaign with the teams battling to a 0-0 tie in Ithaca. The Big Red lead the rivalry against the Knights 59-51-14. Clarkson snapped a 10-game winless stretch (0-7-3) in the series with a 6-3 victory at Cheel on February 2, 2013 and followed it up with a 3-2 win in Potsdam on November 15 to post consecutive wins in the series for the first time since late in the 2007-08 campaign. The Big Red won the last meeting 3-2 at Lynah Rink on January 25.

Allan McPherson scored in the final seconds (37.3) for his second goal of the night to lift Clarkson to the win early in the season. Clarkson outshot Cornell 26-11.

In their last meeting, Clarkson battled hard on the road, outshooting the 12th-ranked Big Red 25-23, but Cornell rode the momentum of strong second period, scoring three goals on eight shots to earn a 3-2 win at Lynah, snapping a two-game losing skid to the Knights. Pat Megannety and Ben Sexton each scored a goal that was assisted by the other.

The Knights last win at Lynah Rink was a 4-2 triumph on January 20, 2008, which completed the 2007-08 ECAC Hockey season sweep of the Big Red.

Sexton is the Knights’ leading scorer in the series with four goals and four assists through five games. Megannety has tallied six points, including a team-high five assists in four games of the rivalry. McPherson has three goals to go along with two assists against Cornell in nine games. Greg Lewis posts a .886 save percentage and a 2.51 GAA in four games against the Big Red. Steve Perry has yet to face Cornell in the Clarkson goal.

JONES A FINALIST

FOR TAYLOR AWARD

ECAC Hockey today announced the finalists for the 2013-14 Men’s Tim Taylor Coach-of-the-Year Award named for the late legendary coach. Clarkson’s Casey Jones, Union’s Rick Bennett and Don Vaughan of Colgate have each been named finalists for the honor by their peers.

Selected to finish last in the 12-team league in both the coaches and media preseason polls, Jones helped the Knights advance in the postseason for the first time in seven season. Heading in the weekend, Clarkson, which finished in fifth place in the ECAC Hockey standings (11-9-2) owns a 20-15-4 overall recorded. Jones up tempo puck possession style game has promoted creativity, puck pressure and emphasized team discipline and unity which has quickly brought success to Potsdam

Currently in his third year, head coach Rick Bennett guided Union to its third Cleary Cup in program history, capturing the ECAC Hockey regular-season title. The Dutchmen (24-6-4, ECAC Hockey) are currently ranked No. 3/3 under Bennett, who is the first coach in program history to post three consecutive 20-win seasons behind the bench. The Dutchmen led the conference in both scoring offense and scoring defense registering a league-high 83 goals in 22 conference games (3.77), while only surrendering a league-low 42 goals (1.91).

Up for consideration for the Tim Taylor Award during his 22nd season behind the Colgate bench, Vaughan guided the Raiders to a second-place finish in the regular season earning 29 points and a first-round tournament bye for the second time in three seasons, (17-12-5 overall). The Raiders are currently ranked No. 18 in the country and won 13 games in conference play for the fifth time under head coach Don Vaughan, marking the most since Colgate won 14 in 2005-06. The second half surge by the Raiders was fueled by an impressive 5-1-2 record against top-20 teams in 2014, including claiming the Mariucci Classic after the holiday break.

KNIGHT KNOTES: Clarkson is 84-70-5 through 52 years of ECAC Hockey playoff action, including 50-20-4 record in quarterfinal round play … At 20-15-4 overall, Clarkson will post its first winning season since 2007-08 … The Knights’ were picked in the ECAC Hockey preseason coaches and media polls to finish last in the 12-team ... The Green and Gold enter the quarterfinal round 3-1-2 in their last six games … The Knights are 7-7-2 in away games this season … The seven members of the Knights’ Class of 2014 have accounted for 42% of Clarkson’s scoring this season with 40 goals and 70 assists for 110 of the Green and Gold’s 263 points … Clarkson’s leading scorer, Allan McPherson has tallied 30 points on a team-high 13 goals and 17 assists. He recorded four points (1-3) in the first-round series against Princeton to reach the coveted Century Mark. He has 101 career points on 41 goals and 60 assists through147 games … Classmate Will Frederick enjoyed a solid series against Princeton with a goal in each game, including the game-winner in Sunday’s 3-2 series clincher. He has nine goals and 13 assists on the year, including five points (4-1) over the past five games … Back in the lineup after missing the previous six games with an injury, Ben Sexton set up three goals in the playoff series against the Tigers. The Knights’ leading playmaker with 20 assists, he has 26 points in 32 games overall … Jarrett Burton has six points (2-4) in his last six games. He has 19 points (10-9) on the year … Senior Matt Zarbo (Grand Island, NY) tallied two assists over the weekend against Princeton and has seven points (2-5) overall. He is one of ten finalists nationally for the 2013-14 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate hockey. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The finalists were chosen by national media from the list of 20 candidates announced in November. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Men’s Frozen Final Four® in April … Sophomore Jeff DiNallo (Aurora, ONT), who tallied three points (1-2) in the playoffs’ first round is enjoying a standout sophomore campaign. He has more than quadrupled his points totals (2-2-4) with 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points this season … Freshman defenseman James de Haas enjoyed a career night in Game 2 against Princeton with a two-goal effort from the blueline. He is tied with left wing A.J. Fossen (Maple Grove, MN) for the Knights’ rookie scoring lead with 12 points with five goals and seven assists … Sophomore Paul Geiger (Stouffville, ONT) leads the Green and Gold in scoring from the blueline with 16 points on five goals and 11 assists. He also posts a team-best +7 plus/minus rating … Steve Perry made an impressive debut in his first collegiate playoff action making 45 saves on 47 shots combined in the two wins over Princeton. He in first postseason game, he blanked the Tigers on 24 saves in Saturday’s 4-0 win for his fourth shutout of the year. Perry posts a .911 save percentage and a 2.18 goals against average en route to a 10-8-3 record … Clarkson has played in an NCAA-high 26 one-goal games, going 14-8-4 in those contests ... Clarkson has gone 1-1-5 in overtime games this season … The Green and Gold are 16-4-2 when scoring first, but just 1-9-1 when trailing after the opening 20 minutes … Clarkson is 13-2-1 when holding the lead through two periods, but 1-9-2 when behind after 40 minutes.

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