Clarkson vs. Saint Lawrence
April 25, 2007
The Game Story:
April 25: Senior defensemen Brian Crowley and JJ Hearty were given the daunting task of trying to stop the Liberty League’s top scorer, Greg Gibbons of Clarkson on Wednesday afternoon as the Saints met their North Country rivals in Potsdam , NY in a conference game with major playoff implications. The defensive duo were outstanding, though, holding Gibbons to only two shots and zero points as the No. 6 Saints led from wire-to-wire and defeated the Golden Knights 10-3 to lock up one of the top-two spots in the Liberty League standings, guaranteeing the Scarlet and Brown at least one home game in the conference tournament.

The opening minutes of the contest gave both goalies a chance to shine, as both St. Lawrence’s Justin Demuth and Clarkson’s Eric Wolery looked sharp in the early going with a few impressive stops each. However, it was the St. Lawrence defense that was over-powering in front of Demuth, as Hearty and Crowley joined junior Ben Buskey in delivering several big hits to set the tone in front of their net.

With their defense having made several key plays in the opening minutes, the Saints offensive corps gave the visitors a 1-0 cushion at 8:20 of the first quarter. Sophomore attack Peter Carroll made a great, heads-up pass from behind the net to fellow classmate Kyle Benton, who beat Wolery for his sixth goal of the season.

Senior Brendan Lynch joined the scoring only 51 seconds later to put St. Lawrence ahead 2-0 with his first goal of the day. Sophomore Alex Slauson beat a defender and sent a shot towards goal. Though his bid hit the right post, the ball bounced right back in front of the goal to a wide open Lynch, who converted for his 19 th goal of the season to complete the first quarter scoring.

Clarkson came out of the gate well in the second quarter, but Demuth made an outstanding save on Jon Cathcart while playing man-down to keep the Green and Gold off the scoreboard. Demuth’s effort allowed his offense to make a play in transition, as junior Kevin Russell sent a long, cross-field pass to Slauson, who buried his first goal of the day for the 3-0 advantage.

Though the Golden Knights were unable to convert on four man-up chances in the first half, they cut the deficit to two goals when Cory Schneider scored an unassisted goal at 6:19 of the second quarter to make the score 3-1. However, Lynch responded in a big way, scoring his second of the game on a man-up opportunity with 3:49 to play in the quarter to put St. Lawrence back on top by three, 4-1.

With the Saints swarming defense continuing to frustrate the Knights, the visitors had one last chance to tack one on before the end of the half. Slauson’s speed earned him a one-on-one with Wolery with under ten seconds to play, but the goaltender stood his ground with an impressive stick save to keep Clarkson in the game trailing 4-1 at the half.

Clarkson’s hopes of establishing control in the second half were dashed early when Slauson and junior Ben Prime scored goals only 21 seconds apart in the opening two minutes of the third quarter to put St. Lawrence ahead 6-1. After Slauson scored his second of the game, one minute into the quarter, a loose ball came to Crowley in the Saints zone. The Acton, MA native ran the length of the field before sending a crisp pass to Prime who eluded a defender a ripped a shot past Wolery for the 6-1 lead.

Brian Hoey tried to keep the home team in the game with his first goal of the afternoon coming with 7:12 remaining in the third. He beat a St. Lawrence defender behind the goal and came around the cage to Demuth’s left where he buried the shot to cut into the Saints lead, 6-2.

However, the goal only seemed to motivate the Saints defensive unit even more, as they caused key turnovers and made impressive plays on ground balls to keep the tempo and the momentum on their side. Lynch would score his third of the game with 4:00 left in the third to give the Scarlet and Brown a 7-2 lead heading to the final fifteen minutes.

It was again the Saints that tacked on two early goals in the fourth to put the game out of reach and solidify their ninth consecutive victory. Carroll scored only 27 seconds in to stretch the lead to 8-2, while rookie Will McKee scored only 42 seconds later on a shot that squeezed just under the crossbar to put the Saints on top 9-2.

Carroll would put the finishing touches on a thorough victory with his second goal of the game with 4:08 to play after taking a pass from Russell. Though Hoey would tack on a late goal for Clarkson on sophomore goaltender Tom Hollingsworth, it was the Saints that left Potsdam , NY with an important conference win to lock up a home game in the 2007 Liberty League Tournament.

“We’ve had a pretty solid year defensively, and I think Sunday’s game against Union served as a wake-up call,” said Saints head coach Mike Mahoney. “I was very pleased with our physical presence today, and it was certainly one of our finest performances of the season.”

The win moved the Saints to 11-1 on the season and a perfect 5-0 record in conference. The victory also sets up a dramatic showdown with Skidmore College on Saturday, as the winner will ensure themselves of the No. 1 seed in the Liberty League Tournament May 4-6.

“We’re coming off of one heck of a road stretch (at RPI, at Union, at Clarkson) unscathed with a chance to win the league on Saturday,” added Mahoney. “It’s exciting to return home to play on ‘Senior Day’, and hopefully we can carry our momentum over against Skidmore.”

St. Lawrence finished with a 34-23 advantage in shots and kept Clarkson from scoring a man-up goal despite allowing their opponents to have six chances. Demuth was the victor, allowing two goals and making eight saves, while Wolery made 14 stops in a losing effort.

Saturday afternoon’s game for the Liberty League’s regular season crown between the conference-unbeaten Saints and Thoroughbreds is set to begin at 2:00pm at North Country Field.