With the first place spot in the ECAC on the line, No. 5 Clarkson Women’s Hockey upset No. 3 St. Lawrence in a 4-1 victory on Saturday afternoon. After their first meeting on Thursday, December 1st ended in a 3-3 tie, Saturday was an important game for both teams. Clarkson’s win advanced them 9-0-1 in conference and 14-3-3 overall. The loss was St. Lawrence’s first of the season, making them 15-1-1 overall and 8-1-1 in ECAC hockey.
St. Lawrence came into the matchup with Clarkson riding a five-game shutout streak. Clarkson ended this run 2:43 into the second period with a goal by co-captain Savannah Harmon assisted by fellow captain Cayley Mercer. Just 22 seconds later St. Lawrence responded with a goal from Kennedy Marchment.
With St. Lawrence leading 3-2 at the end of the third, Clarkson pulled goaltender Shea Tiley for the extra attacker. Pushing into the offensive zone with 30 seconds left in the game, Savannah Harmon got the puck to freshmen defenseman Ella Shelton who found the back of the net for Clarkson. Although both teams generated chances in overtime, no one could find the game-winning goal. The back-and-forth play was not unexpected from the two top teams in the ECAC.
After the tie game, Clarkson’s head coach Matt Desrosiers stated that the game was an exciting matchup between two very talented teams: “I thought we came out strong in the first period but gave some of that momentum back in the second. The third saw both teams get some chances, which made for an exciting ending to the game.”
Claiming the ECAC
It took 18 games and over two months for St. Lawrence to suffer a loss in the 2016-17 season. Despite outshooting Clarkson 24-15, St. Lawrence was unable to beat Clarkson goaltender Shea Tiley more than once during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.
Clarkson’s first goal came from a power play opportunity as co-captain Savannah Harmon scored from the right circle off of an assist by Pejzlova and Mercer. Harmon’s goal gave Clarkson the 1-0 advantage 9:32 into the game. Clarkson doubled this lead with a goal from Mercer in the second period. In the third period, Pejzlova, Bannon, and Mercer, Clarkson’s top line, combined for two goals in a four- minute span to put the game out of reach.
Desperate to get back into the game, St. Lawrence pulled its goaltender to add an extra attacker. Although this allowed Brooke Webster to put the Saints on the scoreboard, the offensive push was too little too late to mount a comeback. "Clarkson really capitalized on some very nice transition goals to separate themselves today," said St. Lawrence’s head coach Chris Wells, "Tiley was strong in net and Clarkson back checked great all night, which made it very difficult to get clean plays through."
St. Lawrence Sees an End to Two Major Streaks
With the top-ranked penalty kill in the nation, St. Lawrence held a consecutive streak of 33 penalty kills headed into Saturday’s matchup with Clarkson. Thursday’s game saw Clarkson struggle to capitalize on the power play, but Harmon’s first period goal on Saturday’s win came from a man advantage. Despite the 4-1 loss, the Saints still hold a 56-for-60 record for the penalty kill, a roughly 93.7% kill rate.
St. Lawrence also ended their shutout streak during Thursday’s 3-3 tie. Clarkson's first goal snapped a streak of 347 minutes, 42 seconds of shutout hockey for the Saints, the longest such streak in program history. It also broke a personal shutout streak of 227:42 for goaltender Grace Harrison, who broke her own program record of 226:15 set earlier this season
Clarkson will close out 2016 with two home games against Syracuse on December 9th and 10th. Syracuse, 5-7-4 overall, are coming off of a 3-0 shutout on the road against Rochester Institute of Technology. While Clarkson is the statistically superior team, both teams are coming off of wins heading into their meeting on December 9th.
The Saints will take a break for exams and holidays before opening 2017 with an exhibition game against Carleton University at home on Jan. 4, then head to Washington, D.C. for two games against Mercyhurst at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Jan. 7th and 8th. After closing 2016 with an end to their strong winning streak, the Saints will be looking to get a couple of big wins to open the new year.