POTSDAM — Clarkson’s 14-game win streak and undefeated ECAC Hockey season was in serious jeopardy in the third period Friday night.
The second-ranked Golden Knights rallied from a two-goal deficit early in the third period and escaped with a 6-6 tie against Harvard, losing the win streak but keeping its undefeated league season, before 3,047 fans in an ECAC Hockey game at Cheel Arena. Among the attendees was former NHL player Craig MacTavish, who is the vice president of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers and also a former Edmonton Oilers head coach.
“I thought we competed hard,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “It was not the goaltending you’d expect from both teams tonight. It was not a great game for a coach but was a great game for fans. There was a good electricity in the crowd tonight. That’s what Cheel is all about, having meaningful games and it was a good game. I thought the ebbs and flows of the game was two good teams going at it. I thought there were some breakdowns on both sides.”
Harvard (8-6-4 overall, 7-3-3), which played in the Frozen Four last year, stunned the capacity crowd with two goals in the first 6 minutes, 15 seconds of the third period to take a 5-3 lead.
Clarkson (18-3-1, 10-0-1), now owners of a 15-game unbeaten streak, answered with a three-goal outburst in a span of 6:08 to take a 6-5 lead.
Harvard coach Ted Donato pulled goalie Michael Lackey late in the period for an extra attacker and the move paid off when Harvard’s Lewis Zerter-Gossage scored his second goal of the game with just 59.7 seconds left to tie it up.
“It’s bittersweet,” Donato said. “Both teams can feel good about their perseverance. We had a two-goal lead in the third and then we end up chasing the game, but our guys didn’t hang our heads. I thought we kept coming and had a chance all the way down to the last second of overtime. It’s not probably what a lot of people would have guessed, when you are looking at two of the better defensive teams in the country, but that’s why we play the game. They are an excellent team, it’s no surprise they’ve won 14 in a row.”
Clarkson started its comeback with the second goal of the game from freshman Jack Jacome on a wrist shot at 8:21 of the third period to cut the Harvard lead to 5-4.
“The only thing you really can do is put your head down and go to work,” Jacome said of the comeback. “We had lots of time left. We were pretty confident that we were going to come back. It was pretty exciting when we did, especially in the fashion that happened. It was pretty crazy. The energy level came a little higher on the bench and in the crowd. That’s something we can feed off of and use to our advantage. I thought it was so much fun, playing a game like that, a lot of emotion. The crowd was really into it. It was back and forth.”
Just 42 seconds later the game was tied when senior defenseman Tyko Karjalainen took a shot from just inside the blue line that went past the glove of Harvard’s starting goalie Merrick Madsen. Donato pulled Madsen after that goal.
Clarkson’s go-ahead goal came at 14:29 of the third period on a shot from junior Marly Quince, with junior Aaron Thow and senior Brett Gervais assisting.
“It’s our team not giving up, we are in every game,” Clarkson senior captain Nic Pierog said. “We took the lead and had a chance to win, so it was good. We played a great team tonight and we came out with a tie. We wanted to win and we had a chance to win.”
Harvard’s tying goal came off a scramble in front of Clarkson goalie Jake Kielly that lasted for several seconds. The whistle was never blown and eventually the puck came to Zerter-Gossage, who was alone by the side of the net and he tapped it in.
“I just saw a big scrum in front of the net,” Zerter-Gossage said. “My job was to jump in if I see any scrums. The puck just bounced there. I honestly didn’t know what was going on. It was just a crazy feeling.”
Jacome also scored a goal 59 seconds into the game for Clarkson. The Golden Knights also picked up goals from Haralds Egle and Josh Dickinson.
Michael Floodstrand, U.S. Olympian Ryan Donato, Frederic Gregoire and Jake Horton also scored goals for the Crimson.