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Clarkson-SLU men’s hockey rivalry resumes this weekend

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POTSDAM - Two highly anticipated games against its archrival await the Clarkson University men’s hockey team this weekend after a lengthy layoff from NCAA play.

Guided by third-year head coach Casey Jones and assistants Phil Roy ‘00 and Andy Jones, the Golden Knights will battle St. Lawrence in a North Country home-and-home series in college hockey’s greatest rivalry. The Knights host the Saints in ECAC Hockey action on Friday at Cheel Arena and then travel 10 miles down Route 11 on Saturday for a rematch at Appleton Arena in Canton. Both games are 7 p.m. starts.

Clarkson leads the all-time series against St. Lawrence, 118-65-10 and has gone 7-1-1 against its neighbor over the past three seasons, including a 2-0-1 mark in 2012-13.

Led by senior captain Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT), the Knights own a 10-3-1 overall record and are tied for fifth in the ECAC Hockey standings with a 4-2 league mark. Clarkson, which last faced NCAA competition on November 15-16 with a split against Central NY rivals Cornell (W 3-2) and Colgate (L 4-3) in Potsdam, is ranked 10th in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls.

The Green and Gold returned from a two-week break with a convincing 6-2 victory over Queen’s University (Kingston, ONT) on Sunday evening in an exhibition contest at Cheel. Sophomore Jeff DiNallo (Aurora, ONT) paced the Golden Knights offensively with two goals and two assists. Making his first appearance for Clarkson, freshman goaltender Ville Runola (Raisio, Finland) posted 15 saves. Freshman defenseman Bryan Sinz (Anchorage, AK), who was also playing in his first game at Clarkson, Sexton and junior defenseman Sam Labrecque (Granby, ONT) also scored goals against the Gaels.

With just one senior on the blueline, and one sophomore and two freshmen manning the Clarkson crease, the Knights boast one of the stingiest defenses in the country, allowing only 2.14 goals per games (tied for eighth in the NCAA). Sophomore Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) and Steve Perry (Ligonier, PA) rank among the Top 20 goaltenders in Division I. Lewis, who has made the last four NCAA starts for the Knights, posts a .912 save percentage and a 2.11 goals against average en route to the ninth-best winning percentage in the country (.778) with a 7-2 record in nine games. Perry, who is tied for seventh in the nation in shutouts (2), holds a .925 save percentage, a 1.94 GAA and a 3-1-1 record.

Sexton paces a balanced offensive effort for the Green and Gold with 13 points, including a team-high 10 assists. The Knights’ captain is one of the nation’s best centers on faceoffs, winning .602% of his draws (177-117). Senior Allan McPherson (Kinburn, ONT) leads the team in goals with seven, and adds four assists for 11 points. He is tied for second in the country in game-winning goals (3). Sophomore Paul Geiger (Stouffville, ONT) leads the scoring from the Clarkson blueline with nine points (2-7).

St. Lawrence returns home to the North Country after a four-game road trip. Guided by third-year head coach Greg Carvel, the Saints stand at 8-6-2 overall and are tied for seventh in the league standings at 2-2-2. This past weekend, St. Lawrence split a series at North Dakota, winning 5-2 on Friday before falling 3-2 on Saturday.

The leading offensive force in the country, Greg Carey (1.81 ppg) highlights the Saints’ offense which is fourth in the nation, averaging 3.81 goals per game. St. Lawrence also boasts the NCAA’s most potent power play, which is clicking at 28.6% (22-77). Greg Carey (11-18) and his younger brother Matt (9-10) power the Saints’ offense and have scored 29 and 19 points, respectively.

The Golden Knights hold an overwhelming 118-65-10 series lead against the Saints, which began with a 1-0 Clarkson victory during the 1925-26 campaign. Clarkson has a six-game (5-0-1) unbeaten streak against its North Country neighbor in ECAC Hockey play and has gone 7-1-1 against its archrival over the past three seasons, including a 2-0-1 mark in 2012-13.

In the last meeting, on January 19, the Knights overcame a 3-0 deficit early in the third period to gain a 3-3 tie at Cheel Arena. Pat Megannety scored twice and defenseman Alex Boak, a North Country native from Norwood, tallied his first goal of the season in the draw. Clarkson outshot the Saints 39-23.

Clarkson defeated St. Lawrence in the first two meetings last season, 4-1 in league play Canton on December 5 and 3-1 in non-conference action in Lake Placid on December 8. The Knights swept the ECAC Hockey series from St. Lawrence for the second straight season in 2011-12 by claiming a 5-3 win at Appleton Arena and 4-3 victory at Cheel Arena. The Saints’ last win in the rivalry was a 4-1 victory at Lake Placid on December 10, 2011.

In 2010-11, Clarkson defeated St. Lawrence three times in one season for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign. The Knights are 21-16-3 against their archrival in games played during the 2000s.

Clarkson owns a 20-6-2 record against the Saints at Cheel Arena. The Saints’ last win in Potsdam was a one-goal victory (4-3) on December 5, 2009.

Will Frederick, who tallied two goals and one assist in the win at Appleton Arena last season, leads the Green and Gold in scoring against the Saints with four goals and four assists through eight games of the rivalry. Matt Zarbo also has four goals against St. Lawrence and five points in nine games. Simon Bessette has made an impression in his first three games against the Saints with two goals and one assist. Megannety and Joe Zarbo also have two goals in the series.Greg Lewis has started three games in goal against the Saints and posts a .940 save percentage and a 1.62 goals against average for a 2-0-1 record.

KNIGHT KNOTES: At 10-3-1, Clarkson has already surpassed the victory total from the 2012-13 campaign and is off to one its best starts in decades and currently owns the seventh-best winning percentage in the country (.750) … The Knights have the third-best winning percentage in Division I on Friday nights (.833) going 5-1 ... wClarkson has gone 7-1-1 in one-goal games this year after winning just three times in 17 of those contests in 2012-13 … Four of this year’s one-goal victories have come in the final minutes of play – two by Allan McPherson. The veteran center scored his second consecutive game-winner late in regulation when he netted his team-high seventh goal of the year with 37.3 seconds left in the 3-2 victory over Cornell (11/15). He also scored with two minutes remaining in the 2-1 triumph at Harvard (11/9) in the previous game. McPherson has three game-winners on the year, having also scored the deciding goal in the 2-1 victory over Colorado College (10/25). He has 12 career game-winners … Freshman A.J. Fossen (Maple Grove, MN) tallied the game-winner with 1:53 left in 4-3 win at Brown (11/1) and junior Joe Zarbo (Grand Island, NY) scored with 9.9 seconds left in overtime to lift the Green and Gold to a 1-0 win against Colorado College (10/26) … Eighteen Knights have scored a goal this season and 20 players have accounted for at least one point … Five different players accounted for Clarkson’s six goals in the weekend against Cornell and Colgate … Ben Sexton paces the offense with 13 points, including a team-high 10 assists … McPherson is the only other Knights recording double figures in the point column with 11 (7-4) … Jeff DiNallo extended his point-scoring streak to three games with one goal and two assists in the weekend against the Central NY foes. He posted his first multiple-point outing with a goal and an assist against Colgate (11/16). DiNallo has already surpasses his totals from last year (2-2-4) with three goals and five assists through 12 games this season. They don’t count in the official stats, but DiNallo was the Knights’ top offensive performer in the 6-2 exhibition win over Queen’s on Sunday with two goals and two assists … Clarkson holds the nation’s best percentage on faceoffs, winning .553% of its draws (503-406) … Sexton is among the best players in the country on faceoffs winning .602% (177-117) of his draws ...Clarkson is getting ample scoring production from the blueline with the Knights’ six defensemen accounting for 25% of the offense with eight goals and 19 assists … The Cornell game was only the second time this season the defensemen did not register a point. They did however, play a leading role in limiting the Big Red to just 11 shots (four of which came on the power play) … Three blueliners - senior Alex Boak (Norwood, NY), Sam Labrecque and Bryan Sinz scored in the win over Queen’s ... Paul Geiger (Stouffville, ONT) leads the defensemen in scoring with nine points (2-7) … Freshman blueliner James de Haas (Mississauga, ONT) has scored five points (2-3), sharing the team’s rookie scoring lead with Fossen … Clarkson has outshot all but three opponents through the first 14 games … Sophomore Greg Lewis (Mars, PA) has started the last four games for the Knights’ in goal and nine overall. He holds a .912 save percentage and a 2.11 goals against average en route to a 7-2 record.

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