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Clarkson Ladies Surge To ECAC Final 4

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POTSDAM — A convincing win over Rensselaer Saturday sent the Clarkson University women’s hockey team on its way to next weekend’s ECAC Hockey semifinals in Ithaca.

Clarkson (28-8 overall) scored the first three goals of the game and went on to beat RPI 5-2 at Cheel Arena to sweep a quarterfinal series two games to none.

The Golden Knights, who are the second seed in the tournament, will meet No. 3 Harvard in a semifinal on Friday at Cornell University. Clarkson won two games against the Crimson by 3-1 scores this season. The other semifinal will feature top-seeded Cornell against either No. 4 Quinnipiac or No. 5 St. Lawrence University. That series is going to a decisive third game this afternoon in Hamden, Conn.

“I want to be a champion,” Clarkson senior Danielle Skirrow said. “Anything less than that won’t make me happy. Seeing other kids, on RPI there, their careers end like that. I’m lucky to be in a group where we have a shot.”

Clarkson won the opening game of the series 3-2 in overtime on Friday.

But on Saturday the Golden Knights did not allow RPI (10-22-4) to stay close.

Clarkson took the lead for good with 34 seconds left in the first period on an unassisted goal by Shannon MacAulay.

Then Jamie Lee Rattray took over in the second period and effectively ended any chance for the Engineers to force a game three.

Rattray scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 11 minutes, 53 seconds of the second period to extend Clarkson’s lead to 2-0.

Then, just under three minutes later, Rattray scored again while she was falling to the ice to make it 3-0 at 14:51. It was the second goal of the weekend for Rattray after she had been knocked down by an RPI player.

“I was in the right spot at the right time,” Rattray said of the goal. “It was one of those where it just kind of happened.”

Rattray, a junior, leads Clarkson in scoring with 22 goals and 28 assists, and she produced three goals in the two-game series. She also played a physical game and won several fights for the puck along the boards.

“It seems like Jamie Lee has been (doing) that all year for us and throughout her career,” Clarkson co-coach Matt Desrosiers said. “You definitely need your top players to step up this time of year. If you are getting the goals from the top players, things are going well and they are fighting through the checks. It’s a good testament to her.”

The cold tub in Clarkson’s training room was a popular destination after both games of the series.

“That’s the type of hockey we play and I think everyone’s used to the bumps and bruises by now,” Rattray said. “That’s what the playoffs are about. They are going to be physical. You are going to have to fight for every battle and that’s what (we) did tonight. You win a little battle there and the bench goes crazy. We all know each battle is going to matter. We have to win each one. The little things in the game are going to make us successful.”

RPI scored its first goal of the game at 10:43 of the third period on a shot by Lauren Wash, but Clarkson answered with goals from Olivia Howe at 13:50 and an empty-net goal from Vanessa Gagnon at 17:36.

The Engineers closed out the scoring with a goal from Katie Daniels with 12 seconds left.

Saturday’s game was the last the Golden Knights could lose and not be eliminated from a postseason tournament. From this point on every game is single-elimination.

“We’re ready to move forward and ready for Harvard,” said Clarkson goalie Erica Howe. “I thought (Friday) we were playing a little nervous. Today it felt like we were carefree. We were getting pucks to the net and driving hard.”

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