POTSDAM — The Clarkson University men’s hockey team has not found its game just yet and it showed in a 4-2 nonconference loss to Providence College before 3,186 fans on Parents Weekend on Saturday at Cheel Arena.
“I’m not a big fan of our puck possession game right now,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “We don’t own the puck. We don’t put it in areas where we are going to get it and we don’t sustain a lot of offense. That’s what our identity should be and it’s not there right now.”
Saturday’s loss dropped Clarkson to 2-1-1 overall after the first two weeks of the season so there is no major alarm, but a look at the early numbers shows Clarkson is quite where it left off last year after finishing with a 26-11-2 record.
Clarkson has a lot of offensive potential, but the Golden Knights have scored just nine goals in the first four games and four of those came during power plays, including both of Saturday’s goals.
Clarkson’s defense has done well, allowing just eight goals in four games and the team has killed 17 of 19 penalties. But Clarkson has been outshot 50-38 so far this season.
“You have an identity and we had success on it (last year),” Jones said. “Now we have a little bit of depth, little more maturity and you want to get outside your comfort zone. We’re not the same team in terms of puck possession that we were last year right now. We’ve got to get back to that. That’s who we are. We have to win puck battles. It’s just not there right now. We seem to want to play a little bit looser, a little bit freer. We’re going to have to dial in on that. We’ve had four tough games so far this year. It’s been a good start to the year, for the most part, but it’s been one of those situations where it’s not result-based, we have to have process-based (results) so we make sure over the long haul we are where we need to be.”
Providence (3-1) struck first at 5 minutes, 12 seconds of the first period on a goal from Tyce Thompson, who was just below the goal line when he scored.
Clarkson responded during its first power play of the game with a goal from freshman Anthony Romano at 9:00 to tie the game 1-1.
But Thompson scored a second goal at 17:31 of the first period, from close to the same spot as his first goal, to put the Friars ahead for good 2-1.
“It was a close game,” Thompson said. “Our (defense) did a great job and we really focused on being detailed in our defensive zone. That makes it really easy to play offense. That was a big part of our game this weekend.”
The Friars upped the lead to 3-1 just 3:13 into the second period on a goal from defenseman Cam McDonald, on a shot from just inside the blue line.
“I thought in the second period the (third) goal took a lot of wind from us,” Jones said. “We were not very good in the second period. They handed it to us and we were lucky to still be in the game at that point and time. We have to be a little mentally tougher and tougher overall as an opponent here. It’s a situation where I thought (Providence) won most of the puck battles and races to the pucks and that’s what usually dictates a game.”
Josh Dunne brought Clarkson to 3-2 when he scored a power-play goal at 9:33 of the third after the Golden Knights sent a flurry of shots at Friars goalie Michael Lackey, who suffered a regular-season ending injury last year with Harvard at Cheel Arena.
“There was a lot of good movement there and we were getting pucks to the net there,” Dunne said. “They have a good penalty kill and we just kept putting it on there and I got a good bounce and the puck was lying right there, so it was good.”
Providence closed out the scoring with a power-play goal from Parker Ford at 16:58 of the third period.
“(Clarkson) is a very good transition team and they had some good looks in the first period, but I thought Lackey was really good in the first period,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “We just tried to slow down there transition and they are very good at finding guys underneath plays and finding the weak side. I think they are probably the best team in the nation at it. We just wanted to make our guys aware of it.”
VERMONT 2, ST. LAWRENCE 0
St. Lawrence University freshman Francis Boisvert stopped 31 shots in his first collegiate start but the Saints (1-3) were shut out for a second straight night, falling to the Catamounts before 572 fans in a nonconference game at SUNY Canton.
Stefanos Lekkas led Vermont (1-1) with 35 saves. The Catamounts outshot SLU 18-4 in a scoreless first period, but SLU pressured Lekkas late, outshooting Vermont 28-8 in the third and finishing with a 35-33 edge.
Alex Esposito scored the only goal Vermont would lead at 3:00 of the second period.
Bryce Misley added an empty-net goal to clinch the win with 18 seconds remaining.