POTSDAM — Seventh-seed Rensselaer gave the Clarkson University women’s hockey team a scare in the ECAC hockey playoff opener Friday night at Cheel Arena.
But a tip-in goal in overtime by captain Carly Mercer gave the No. 2 Golden Knights a 3-2 win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three quarterfinal series which continues at 4 p.m. today. If Clarkson wins it will advance to the semifinals next weekend. If RPI wins there will be a deciding game at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Clarkson (27-8 overall) beat RPI twice during the regular season but the Engineers (10-21-4) never let the Golden Knights stay in a comfortable position throughout game one.
Clarkson struck first in Friday’s game when Vanessa Gagnon scored on a shot from the circle at 3 minutes, 42 seconds of the opening period.
But midway through the first period Clarkson’s Shannon MacAulay was called for roughing and RPI took advantage with a power-play goal by Alexa Gurschow, which was set up by a pass from Jordan Smelker, to tie the game 1-1 at 10:53 of the first period.
The game remained in the 1-1 tie until 11:05 of the third period when Rattray scored a goal while lying on her belly. She was knocked to the ice in front of RPI goalie Kelly O’Brien but still poked a shot between her legs to give Clarkson a 2-1 advantage.
Just as it did in the first period, RPI had an answer when Clarkson took a lead and it started with another power play as Olivia Howe was called for tripping at 14:02.
The Engineers scored exactly two minutes later on a shot from Taylor Horton, but it came a second after the power play had expired.