Clarkson skates past rival

Clarkson’s Grant Cooper skates the puck past Keen Suthers of St. Lawrence during Saturday’s game at the Olympic Center. Cooper scored twice in his team’s 6-2 victory. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — Division I men’s college hockey returned to Lake Placid on Saturday, as rivals Clarkson and St. Lawrence clashed at the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, which is the same site the two teams hope to compete at during the ECAC championships in March.

In front of a crowd of more than 4,300 fans, the Golden Knights broke open a deadlocked game by scoring four unanswered goals to claim a 6-2 victory

With the score tied 2-2, Clarkson buried two goals late in the second period and then pulled away by scoring two more times in less than two minutes early in the third. The Knights improved to 7-4 overall while the Saints’ struggles continued as they dropped to 2-10.

The fluky go-ahead goal scored with 4:22 remaining in the second period was credited to Clarkson’s Grant Cooper and proved to be a big inspiration for the Golden Knights. At the same time, the tally turned out to be a devastating blow to the Saints. On the play, Cooper, a sophomore, was standing behind the St. Lawrence goal and was hit by a shot taken by teammate Jack Jacome. The puck then bounced into the air, sailed over the net and deflected off the back of Saints goalie Emil Zetterquist into the net.

Leading 3-2, Clarkson scored three more times in rapid succession. John Carter buried a rebound on a shot by Aaron Thow with 1:34 left in the second to give the Knights a 4-2 edge, Nick Campoli tallied 2:21 into the third for a 5-2 Clarkson lead, and Cooper then made it a 6-2 final on his second goal of the game with 4:10 gone in the final period.

Clarkson captain Nico Sturm carries the puck behind the St. Lawrence net past Saints defender Michael Schumacher during the third period of Saturday’s game at the Olympic Center. The Golden Knights triumphed 6-2 in front of a crowd of more than 4,300 hockey fans. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“We were kind of trading some really good chances in the first, and then I thought we kind of settled in after that third goal, turned the corner,” Clarkson head coach Casey Jones said. “It looked like it deflated them a bit, and then we took off from there. There were a lot of good signs for our depth tonight. Some good things for us to build on there.”

Clarkson finished with a commanding 42-20 advantage in shots on goal. Jones said he was happy to see that offensive effort, which resulted in the Golden Knights highest shot total so far this season.

Four goals were scored in an exciting opening period, with the Golden Knights getting the early jump when Thow found the back of the net 4:46 into the game. The Saints responded with the next two tallies, with Michael Laidley tying the contest at the 6:51 mark, and David Jankowski burying a go-ahead goal at the 16:42 mark. Clarkson knotted the game at 2-2 when Haralds Egle scored with just 35 seconds remaining in the period.

St. Lawrence had a golden opportunity to jump back on top before the first period expired, but came up empty when Clarkson goalie Jake Kielly stopped Saints’ forward Bo Hanson on a breakaway.

Much of the second period continued to be a back-and-forth battle until Clarkson turned the tide on Cooper’s game-winner.

Clarkson’s Devin Brosseau and Ted McGeen and Cameron Gray of St. Lawrence attempt to control a bouncing puck in Saturday’s contest. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

St. Lawrence head coach Mark Morris said he was pleased with the early effort turned in by his young squad, which has a combined 21 freshmen and sophomores on a roster of 28 players.

“Our goaltending was excellent I thought,” Morris said. “We had some unfortunate bounces, but at the same time, sustaining it is hard for a young group. They (the Golden Knights) are a solid team. They have some pretty experienced veterans. We applied some pressure in spurts but not enough to really finish them off.

“We were tied toward the tail end of the second period, and veteran teams find a way to get it done,” Morris added. “It was bad luck. we needed a break and we didn’t get one. That was a fortunate one for them and it kind of took the wind out of our sails. You could see things unravel from that point forward.”

Saturday’s game provided a much better result for the Golden Knights than their last trip to Lake Placid. A season ago, they advanced all the way to the ECAC championship final at the Olympic Center then fell 2-1 to Princeton in overtime.

“I guess tonight wiped that out,” said Thow, a senior from Toronto who finished with a goal and an assist.

Thow was excited to see the turnout of thousands of Clarkson backers decked out in their team’s green and gold colors.

“A credit to the fans for coming. We love it,” Thow said. “We want to come back here at the end of the season; hopefully a better result than the last time.”

In a way the game marked a homecoming for St. Lawrence freshman Kayden Pickering, who played his prep school hockey in Lake Placid at the Northwood School. Pickering, from Madrid, picked up an assist on his team’s first goal.

“I’ve been back here once for a Northwood alumni game,” Pickering said. “It was cool coming back. Definitely a bigger stage than I was used to playing with Northwood. It was fun for sure. I wish we could have come out with a better result.”

After graduating from Northwood, Pickering played junior hockey in British Columbia before joining the Saints.

“They kind of took the wind out of our sails with that bad bounce, and we couldn’t bounce back,” he said. “We just couldn’t turn it around. We had a tough start to the third and couldn’t get it back to where we needed it to be. They are a good team. They played us hard and we played hard in the first and then let off the pedal in the second and the third.

“In the next couple weeks, we’ll be working on being more consistent and be ready for them again in two weeks,” Pickering added. “We have to get more shots on net. We’re getting 15 to 20 shots per game when we should be getting 15 per period. We have to get the body on them, we have to be a hard team to play. We have to play St. Lawrence hockey for 60 minutes.”

Despite the Saints early-season struggles, Pickering said he is enjoying competing at the big-time level.

“It’ surreal every time I step on the ice,” Pickering said describing his dream of playing collegiate Division I hockey. “I have the whole extended family here. Hopefully, I won’t have to remember this outcome for long. Hopefully, we’ll be back in March.”

The Saints and Golden Knights will both be playing in their home rinks this weekend. St. Lawrence takes on Brown Friday while Clarkson hosts Yale. The teams will then switch those same opponents on Saturday.

The ECAC men’s ice hockey championship tournament will take place in Lake Placid March 22-23, 2019 at the Olympic Center.