Knights open ECAC Playoffs hosting RPI in first-round series
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 6:42 am

With postseason action getting underway this weekend, the Clarkson University Hockey team will look to open the ECAC Hockey playoffs the same way it began the conference regular season – with a win over Rensselaer in Potsdam. The Golden Knights will host the Engineers in a best-of-three first-round series at Cheel Arena. The two long-time rivals will face off on Friday and again on Saturday in 7:00 p.m. starts. If the series is tied after two games, the teams will play again on Sunday in a deciding third game with faceoff at 7:00 p.m. with the winner advancing to the quarterfinal round.

Guided by first-year head coach Casey Jones and assistant coaches Phil Roy ’00 and Andy Jones, Clarkson secured its second consecutive home-ice berth in the league playoffs by skating to a 9-9-4 ECAC Hockey mark. The Knights began the league campaign with a 4-1 win over Rensselaer in Potsdam on November 4. Clarkson also defeated the Engineers in Troy, 3-2 on January 28. Picked to finish in 11th place in the preseason coaches’ polls, the Green and Gold tied for sixth in the conference standings and earned the seventh seed in the playoffs.

Led by senior captain Jake Morley (Ogdensburg, NY) and assistants, grad student Nick Tremblay (Candiac, QUE) and sophomore Ben Sexton (Kanata, ONT), the Knights have skated to their best regular-season record in four years, owning a 15-15-6 overall slate.

In other first-round series action, fifth-seed Quinnipiac will host 12th-seeded Brown in Hamden, CT; Yale (6th) will battle Princeton (11th) in New Haven, CT and St. Lawrence (8th) and Dartmouth (9th) will face off at Appleton Arena in Canton.

Clarkson came up two points short in its bid for a first-round bye after suffering two losses on the road to close out the regular season. On Friday in Hanover, NH, the Knights fell into a 4-0 hole and could not recover, losing 6-4 at Dartmouth. Against Harvard on Saturday, Clarkson could not hold a 2-0 lead and fell to the Crimson 3-2 in Cambridge, MA.

Clarkson has been a force in the ECAC since the league was formed at the start of the 1961-62 season. The Knights have participated in 50 of the conference’s 51 postseason tournaments, winning five league championships (1966, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2007). Clarkson owns an 81-65-5 record in the conference playoffs, and is 3-4 in first-round series (7-9). The Knights are 3-4 against Rensselaer in conference postseason action.

After winning the 2007 ECAC Tournament title, Clarkson has been knocked out of the playoffs in its first postseason action in each of the following four years. Last season, Clarkson lost its first-round series to Harvard in Potsdam (2-1, 6-4). The Knights also lost first-round series at St. Lawrence in 2010 (3-2ot, 3-4ot, 3-2) and fell in Schenectady to Union (5-3, 7-2) in 2009. Colgate edged the Green and Gold in the 2008 quarterfinals at Cheel (0-1, 4-3, 3-2 2ot).

The Knights have advanced to 31 league championship tournaments and have skated in 13 title games, winning its fifth in 2007 with a 4-2 victory over Quinnipiac in the title game at the Times Union Center in Albany. Clarkson is 4-6 as the sixth seed.

Rensselaer comes into playoffs with plenty of momentum after sweeping Colgate and Cornell in central NY to close out the regular season. Guided by sixth-year head coach Seth Appert, the Engineers skated past Colgate 4-2 at Starr Rink on Friday and then prevented Cornell from winning the Cleary Cup by upsetting the Big Red, 2-1 in overtime at Lynah Rink on Saturday.

RPI posted a 7-12-3 ECAC mark, good for 10th place, and is 10-21-3 overall, including seven wins in the 2012 portion of the schedule. The Engineers are 6-8-1 on opponents' home ice, including a 5-0-1 mark over their past six road games.

The Series:

In a heated rivalry which dates back to the 1924-25 campaign, Clarkson leads the overall series against Rensselaer 83-44-8. The Knights have won seven of the last 10 meetings against RPI, including a 4-1 triumph in Potsdam on November 4 and a 3-2 victory in Troy on January 28 this season. Last year, the teams split with each winning on the other’s home ice. Clarkson handed the Engineers their first home loss in 2010-11 with a 3-2 overtime triumph at Houston Field House on January 7. Rensselaer, however, came back to post a 5-1 victory at Cheel Arena on February 19, 2011. The Knights are 12-6-3 against Rensselaer at Cheel Arena, but the Engineers have won two of their last three games in Potsdam.

Clarkson and Rensselaer have faced each other only seven times in the ECAC postseason with the Engineers holding a slim 4-3 advantage. In the last postseason meeting between the two rivals, RPI defeated the Green and Gold 5-3 in the consolation game of the 2002 tournament in Lake Placid. Clarkson’s last playoff victory over the Engineers was a 5-3 triumph in the semifinals at Lake Placid in 1993.

The teams have never played a postseason game against each other in Potsdam.

Corey Tamblyn has scored a team-high five goals and six points through six games in the series, including two scores in the win at Cheel earlier this season. Nick Tremblay also has six points in the rivalry with three goals and three assists in eight games. Louke Oakley has five points (2-3). Paul Karpowich is 5-3 against RPI with a .910 save percentage and a 2.63 GAA.

Knight Notes:

Clarkson is 10-3-2 at Cheel Arena this season and 234-103-38 all-time in the 21-year-old building. The Knights have skated to a 25-8 ECAC postseason record at Cheel, but have lost their last two playoff series in Potsdam, including a 2-0 (2-1, 6-4) first-round series loss to Harvard last March … Clarkson’s 15-15-6 overall record and 9-9-4 ECAC mark, are the Green and Gold’s best finishes to the regular season since the 2007-08 campaign when the Knights posted 20 victories and won the ECAC’s Cleary Cup by going 15-4-3 in the league … Paul Karpowich started and played all but 10 minutes in the Clarkson goal through 22 ECAC Hockey games and was the main reason the Knights were in contention for a first-round bye. He made the most saves in ECAC play with 638 and had eight league games with 30-or-more saves, including two conference outings with 40-or-more stops. Karpowich holds the program’s record for career saves at 3,632 through 127 games. He is tied for third in the country in shutouts with five, just missing out on his sixth when Colgate scored an extra attacker goal with 1.8 seconds left in Clarkson’s 2-1 victory (2/18). Karpowich posts a .923 save percentage and a 2.42 GAA …Louke Oakley and Nick Tremblay will most likely fall short of reaching the Century Mark in scoring, but the two veterans are closing out their collegiate careers in a flurry and kept the Knights in contention for a first-round bye with strong play down the stretch … Clarkson’s leading scorer with 35 points on a team-high 16 goals along with 19 assists, Oakley has recorded 17 points (8-9) over the past 12 games. He has 81 career points (25-56) through 133 games … Second for the Knights in scoring with 33 points (15-18), Tremblay has tallied 17 points (6-11) over the last 13 games. Tremblay is Clarkson’s active career scoring leader with 85 points (31-54) in 140 games … Oakley and Tremblay are also solid defensively with a +7 plus/minus rating each … After overcoming an early season injury, Ben Sexton has emerged as a top offensive force, averaging over a point per game with seven goals and a team-high 20 assists through 24 contests. Since returning to the lineup after missing 12 games, he has recorded 16 points, including a team-high 14 assists. Sexton is the Knights’ top threat on the power play with a team-high five goals and 12 assists on the man-advantage … Clarkson has scored on the power play in each of the last four games and has accounted for 11 power-play markers in the final 11 games of the regular season. Overall, the Knights are 29-163 (17.8%) on the power play … After a considerable goal-scoring drought midway through the season, sophomore Allan McPherson (Kinburn, ONT) has regained his scoring touch and has tallied five goals over the past seven games. He has 11 goals and 10 assists as Clarkson’s fourth-leading scorer, and is tied for fifth in the nation for game-winning goals with five … Junior defenseman Andrew Himelson (Monroe, NY) equaled a career high for points in a game with a goal and an assist last Friday at Dartmouth on his 22nd birthday … Two of Junior Adam Pawlick’s (Utica, NY) three goals this season have come against Dartmouth, scoring against the Big Green on November 19 and again this past Friday … Freshman defenseman Kevin Tansey (Hammond, ONT) tallied his second career goal with the opening score on Saturday at Harvard … The Knights lost for only the second time this season when leading after 40 minutes (11-2-2) as Harvard scored three unanswered goals to win 3-2 on Saturday … The losses on the road this past Friday and Saturday was only the second time this season Clarkson has suffered a weekend sweep and the first time in ECAC Hockey action … Former Clarkson All-American defenseman Grant Clitsome ‘ 08 was claimed off the NHL waiver wire from Columbus by the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. He had had 14 points in 51 games with the Blue Jackets this season. Clitsome joins former Knights defenseman Randy Jones on the Winnipeg blueline.