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Clarkson upends Mercyhurst in quest for first National Championship
The Clarkson University Golden Knights will compete for the National Championship thanks to a 5-1 victory over the Mercyhurst Lakers Friday night.
The teams traded chances back and forth early on before Jaclyn Arbour scored the game’s first goal. Mercyhurst forward Shelby Bram gained the zone and fired a shot that Clarkson net minder Erica Howe could not handle. In the resulting net mouth scramble, Arbour collected the puck and slid it past the left pad of Howe, giving the Lakers the 1-0 lead 8:02 into the period.
“I thought we came out with a little bit of jitters,” Clarkson co-head coach Matt Desrosiers said. “I felt when they got the first goal, the energy went down a little bit, but give our players credit I thought they stuck with it, got the energy level back up, and followed through with it.”
The second period would prove to be where the Knights cashed in on golden opportunities. Five minutes into the period, Renata Fast fired a wrist shot from the point to tie the game 1-1. Fast received a pass from Vanessa Gagnon, who then threw it on net from the blue-line, beating Lakers goalie Amanda Makela glove side.
Clarkson would take advantage of a Mercyhurst turnover just four minutes later when Makela tried to smother the puck at the side of the net. With Makela out of position, the puck slid out to Gagnon, who slammed it into the open net as she fell to the ice to give the Knights the 2-1 lead 9:16 into the second.
“Jamie Lee (Rattray) pretty much did all the work. She got in the corner to make sure I got the puck, and I saw it last second so I dove for it, and we got the goal,” Gagnon said.
At the 16:24 mark, Christine Lambert would beat Makela with a tip out front. Shelby Nistbet pushed a pass to Fast from the half-boards who fired the shot from her defensive position, where it deflected off the stick of Lambert and in to give Clarkson the 3-1 advantage.
The Golden Knights would not be done as Rattray and Brittany Styner would connect on a 2-1 rush to give Clarkson a 4-1 advantage with 13:31 left in the third period. Rattray carried the puck down the length of the ice before sending out a perfect saucer pass to Styner on the far side who roofed it over Makela’s left shoulder.
Mercyhurst would find themselves with a late power-play opportunity with just over three minutes left in regulation, but could not find the back of the net. Clarkson would take advantage of the Mercyhurst empty net when Shannon MacAulay would slide home the Knights’ fifth and final goal. For the Lakers, their season ends in their fourth Frozen Four appearance with a 24-9-4 record.
“I don’t think tonight was one of our best efforts, and part of that is how well Clarkson played,” Mercyhurst head coach Michael Sisti said. “We are certainly disappointed we lost, we came here to win, and I am proud of our season, and I don’t think today defines who we are as a program or this particular team.”
Clarkson will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers Sunday afternoon for the national championship at the High Point Solutions Arena at the TD Bank Sports Center. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m.