POTSDAM — Clarkson University’s men’s hockey team has all but wrapped up a first-round bye for the upcoming ECAC Hockey playoffs, but the Golden Knights now have to work on closing games before the postseason begins in three weeks.
No. 7 Clarkson (19-6-5 overall, 11-3-4 ECAC Hockey) blew a two-goal lead in the third period and settled for a 4-4 tie with Colgate before 2,825 fans in an ECAC Hockey game Saturday night at Cheel Arena.
The Golden Knights, who are 1-3-4 in their last eight games, have now lost or tied five of the last six times they have entered a third period ahead or tied, or took a lead in the third period.
“We’re not playing smart hockey in the third period,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “We get four goals, with the defensive team we’ve been all year, that’s got to be a lock-down game, pure and simple. They are coming up ice with numbers on us. They are the team that has to take the risks, not us. We didn’t play smart hockey in the third period. We have to be better defensively, it starts with that. We want to generate offense, but not at the risk of being a poor defensive team.”
Clarkson went ahead of Colgate 4-2 at 7 minutes, 53 seconds of the third period when senior defenseman Kelly Summers scored on a power play goal, for his second goal of the game.
But the Raiders (12-13-5, 8-8-2), scored two goals less than five minutes apart, on shots from Josh McKechney (10:38) and Bobby McMann (15:13) in the third period to salvage a tie. McMann also scored at 5:22 of the third period to cut Clarkson’s lead at that point to 3-2.
“I’m proud of our guys that we stuck with it, obviously,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan, a former player at St. Lawrence University and SUNY Canton. “(Clarkson) is very good. They are one of the best teams in the country. We were able to get the point in a tough building on a night where early on it didn’t look like we were going to get much out of this. Sometimes a tie feels like a win, and this is one of them.”
A win Saturday would have outright clinched a first-round bye for Clarkson, which would mean a home quarterfinal series in the ECAC Hockey playoffs.
If Clarkson goes 0-4 the rest of the season and Colgate goes 4-0, the teams would finish tied, but Clarkson would hold the tiebreaker with a 1-0-1 record against the Raiders. The only reason Clarkson has not officially clinched is there are other scenarios, such as a three-way tie with another team currently in the top four, that could force other tiebreakers to come into play.
Clarkson started strong with Summers scoring the first of his two goals at 8:49 of the opening period. Both goals came on slap shots from near the blue line.
“The (first), (Josh Dickinson) won the draw and got it to me,” Summers said. “I was going to look over to (Terrance) Amorosa for a one-timer, but it kind of bobbled, so I tried to get it to the net quick and it went in.”
Colgate tied the game early in the second period on a shot from Tyler Jeanson at 6:38.
The Golden Knights responded with two straight goals from Sheldon Rempal, his 19th and 20th of the season, to take a 3-1 lead after two periods.
“I thought our line had a really good night,” Rempal said. “We played hard tonight. (Dylan) Gareau and (Nic) Pierog have big bodies and they use it really well.”