By Cap Carey
POTSDAM — The last thing the Clarkson University men’s hockey team needed was to run into a hot goalie.
Still searching for their first win of the season, Clarkson was thwarted by a 44-save effort by Niagara’s Carsen Chubak as the Purple Eagles earned a 2-0 win before 2,502 fans in a nonconference game at Cheel Arena Friday night.
Clarkson (0-4 overall) couldn’t capitalize on six power-play chances, including a stretch late in the second period when the Golden Knights had a two-man advantage for 1 minute, 22 seconds.
Last year Clarkson scored on 17.9 percent of its power plays. Through four games of the 2012-13 season the Golden Knights are just 1 of 16.
Clarkson captain Ben Sexton was one of the players who took Friday’s loss hard. He blamed himself for taking two penalties in the second period, including one which led to the first goal of the game on Niagara’s power play. He also wasn’t happy with his performance while on the ice during the five-on-three.
Niagara’s first goal, which came at 8 minutes, 14 seconds of the second period, was a strange play. Dan Kolenda was credited with the goal on a shot that banked off the boards behind the net and appeared to hit Clarkson goalie Greg Lewis in the back of the leg before going in.
Lewis didn’t let the weird goal rattle him, however.
Niagara (2-2-2) extended the lead to 2-0 at 3:07 of the third period when Marc Zanette scored on a bad angle from the short side of the crease.
Niagara played at Michigan State last weekend and had two-goal leads both nights heading into the third period, but settled for a loss and a tie.
Clarkson had some discipline issues after the second goal that cost the Golden Knights some chances to get back in the game.
The Golden Knights were about to go on a power play at 7:48 of the third period after Niagara’s Matt Dineen was called for holding, but Mike Garlasco picked up a roughing penalty as the whistle sounded, which resulted in a four-on-four situation.
Clarkson outshot the Purple Eagles 19-5 in the third period, desperately trying to get a shot past Chubak.
NOTES: Joe Zarbo led Clarkson with eight shots on goal. Defensemen Alex Boak and Sam Labrecque each had five shots. ... Lewis, who was third-string at the start of the season, has now started three straight games in goal and has an .891 save percentage. ... Clarkson has led just 12.6 percent of the time so far this season and has trailed 44.9 percent.