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Clarkson women host weekend games against Mercyhurst

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POTSDAM - In its final non-league games before ECAC Hockey plays begins, the Clarkson University women’s hockey team will look to continue its winning ways this weekend when it hosts traditional national power Mercyhurst College in a two-game series at Cheel Arena.

Guided by sixth-year co-head coaches Matt and Shannon Desrosiers, and assistant Matt Kelly, the Golden Knights will battle the Lakers at 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Clarkson, led by senior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) and senior assistant captains Vanessa Gagnon (St. Constant, QUE) and Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT), has been nearly flawless to start the 2013-14 campaign. Ranked third in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine and USCHO.com national polls, the Green and Gold are 5-0 and have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 27-5 and have yet to trail in a game this season.

Clarkson is coming off a hard-fought, home-and-home series sweep of Syracuse University. The Knights earned a 2-1 win over the Orange in Central NY on Friday and then gained their first shutout of the season with a 4-0 blanking over the College Hockey America foe on Saturday at Cheel.

Carly Mercer and senior Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) were recognized for their efforts in the two wins when they were named ECAC Hockey Player and Goaltender of the Week, respectively.

Mercer combined for three goals and two assists in the weekend sweep. She scored both Clarkson goals in Friday’s road win and followed in Saturday’s victory with a power-play goal and two assists. Mercer tallied both game-winning goals as the Knights matched their best start ever. Two-time ECAC Goaltender of the Year, Howe combined for 43 saves on 44 shots over the weekend. She was especially strong in the third-period of Saturday’s victory, making 14 of her 26 saves over the final 20 minutes to post her 16th career shutout. Howe posted 17 stops in Friday’s one-goal win. Howe owns a .949 save percentage and a 1.07 GAA in five games.

Last year’s ECAC Hockey Rookie of the year, sophomore defender Erin Ambrose (Keswick, ONT) leads the Golden Knights in scoring with 12 points, including a game-high seven goals. Ambrose started the year with back-to-back hat tricks in wins over RIT and St. Lawrence. Carly Mercer also has double figures in the point column with four goals and six assists. Mercer is a member of Clarkson’s Century Club with 115 points (43-72) in 117 career games. On pace to become Clarkson’s all-time leading scorer, Rattray has amassed 123 career points on 51 goals and 72 assists through 111 games. She has three goals and five assists this season. Freshman Genevieve Bannon (Candiac, QUE) is off to a strong start to her collegiate career with three goals, two assists and a +8 plus/minus rating.

Ranked ninth in the USA Today poll, Mercyhurst owns a 2-3 record. The Lakers, guided by head coach Michael Sisti, split on the road at Providence College this past weekend, earning a 5-0 shutout on Saturday before falling 3-2 on Sunday. In its only home action in Erie, PA, Mercyhurst lost 4-3 in overtime to Ohio State on October 5. The Lakers began the season with a split at Minnesota State (2-4, 3-2) on September 27-28. Mercyhurst has made nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances since 2005 and advanced to the Frozen Four last year, losing to Boston University in the semifinals.

Mercyhurst leads the all-time series against Clarkson 7-4-3, but teams are tied 2-2-1 over the past five meetings.

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