Bridgeport, CT- Early in the 2017-2018 season, the Clarkson Golden Knights and Providence College Friars played two times. First on October 21st in Potsdam, NY, and second on November 25th in Belfast, Ireland, for the Friendship Four Tournament Crown. In both matchups, Clarkson got the better of the Friars. The Golden Knights scored four goals in both matchups and shutout Providence the first time. On Friday night, the teams met for the third time this year. This was on the biggest stage, in the NCAA Tournament with seasons on the line. Providence showed their maturity and development following the first two matchups.
The first period was the most eventful of the game. Providence won the shot battle 13-8 and landed what would be the only goal of the matchup. Only 3:09 into the frame, Devin Brosseau took a cross checking minor. Fifty-three seconds into the power play, Kasper Bjorkqvist potted a shot from the doorstep and gave Providence a lead they would never relinquish. Clarkson gave Providence some pressure late in the first period, peppering Hawkey with shots, but mounting no truly deadly scoring chances for the rest of the period.
The second stanza was similar to the first. Providence committed two penalties, but killed off one of the best power plays in the nation both times. Clarkson also committed a penalty, but Jake Kielly held firm to keep Clarkson in the game. Providence again won the shot battle, but it was 8-7 this time. The hits picked up and Providence started to put Clarkson into a vice grip.
While the second period saw the Friars flex their defensive muscle, the third saw them dominate Clarkson in the neutral zone. Their stick presence and positioning limited Clarkson to only three shots. Hayden Hawkey did have to make difficult saves with Kielly pulled, but the Friars put on a clinic of defensive skating. The final seconds wound down and Providence punched their ticket to the Regional Final with a 1-0 victory.
Clarkson was burned out and exhausted after the game, according to Head Coach Casey Jones. “It was a battle. It was hard to gain ice tonight. I thought the opportunities were there. Unfortunately we couldn’t execute some of the plays down around the net, but our effort was there. I’m proud of our guys and proud to say I’m their coach.”
The Golden Knights conclude their season with a 23-11-6 record. They reached the ECAC Final and played in their first NCAA Tournament in a decade. Unfortunately, this was the end of the road for seven players. Kelly Summers, Terrence Amorosa, Dylan Gareau, Ben Dalpe, Tyko Karjalainen, Alternate Captain Brett Gervais, and Captain Nic Pierog helped Clarkson return to prominence in the ECAC, and leave the program in good hands upon their graduation.
Providence’s win pushes their record to 24-11-4. It was their first tournament win since the National Championship game against Boston University in 2015. Nate Leaman was happy with his unit after the game for their development through the season. “First, congratulations to Clarkson. We played them twice earlier this season and they kicked our butts both times. I thought it was a good game. We had to win the special teams to win the game, and we did. I think we’re as good a team as is in the tournament. Last weekend prepared us for this game, because Clarkson is a cross between Northeastern and BU.”
The Friars will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for a spot in the Frozen Four. Puck drops at the Webster Bank Arena at 6 pm.