The last time Clarkson reached the NCAA hockey
Frozen Four was 1991.
On Friday, two players that wear numbers 19 and 91 put the Golden Knights on the brink of a trip to Denver for the Frozen Four.
David Cayer (No. 19) and Shea Guthire (No. 91) rallied third-seeded Clarkson from a one-goal deficit to a 2-1 victory over second-seeded St. Cloud State in the East Regional semifinals at the Times Union Center.
The 11th-ranked Knights (22-12-4) will meet top-seeded Michigan in the final at 7 tonight. The winner of that game gets a berth in the Frozen Four April 10-12.
Clarkson coach George Roll was an assistant coach in 1991, when the Knights lost to Boston University, 7-3, in the NCAA semifinal in
St. Paul, Minn. The irony wasn’t lost on him.
“For a program like us, it’s been too long,” Roll said. “[It] was a special year, a special group of guys and I feel the same way about this group.”
The Knights hadn’t won an NCAA game since 1996, when they beat Western Michigan, 6-1, in the first round of the East Regional here, when the building was known as Knickerbocker Arena. Clarkson had lost five straight tournament games, including last year’s 1-0 loss to Massachusetts in the East semifinal when it was the top-seeded team in the region.
To be one game away from the Frozen Four is thrilling to Cayer, a senior.
“It means a lot,” Cayer said. “We’ve worked so hard this year, and the previous four years, to get to [tonight] and to get to get to a Frozen Four. All the guys are ready to go.”
In the third game between the two teams this season, the eighth-ranked Huskies (19-16-5) took a
1-0 lead early in the second period when Garrett Raboin beat goalie David Leggio with a one-timer from the high slot off of an Garrett Roe pass from the right-wing boards. It was just the second time in seven NCAA appearances the Huskies had the lead.
But the Cayer tied it on a fluky play with 5:45 left in the second. Huskies goalie Jase Weslosky kicked out a Bryan Rufenach left-wing drive. The rebound was in the slot. Cayer and St. Cloud State defenseman David Carlisle got to the puck about the same time. The puck hit Carlisle’s stick, and wobbled over Weslosky’s right shoulder and into the net.
“I tried to direct the rebound into the corner,” Weslosky said. “Unfortunately, it popped out into the slot. Our guy was there a little too late, but still got a piece of it. It was kind of a ricochet somewhere. It just popped up in the air. It arched over. I had seen it as it was going behind me.”
Guthrie used his speed to score the game-winner at 4:58 of the third period.
Grant Clitsome cleared the puck out of his zone and off the right-wing boards in the neutral zone. Guthrie sped past defenseman Matt Stephenson along the right-wing boards in the Huskies zone, and got past right wing Nick Oslund in the right circle and put a backhander past Weslosky.
“It was good luck,” said Guthrie, who has a team-leading five game-winning goals. “[Clitsome] put it off the wall, and I was breaking down the ice. I just drove wide, and got control of it about 10 feet from the net and just went to my backhand. I thought I had a good shot there.”
Clarkson outshot St. Cloud State, 40-25. For Huskies coach Bob Motzko, it was a tough way for his team’s season to end.
“I’m awfully disappointed [for it] to be the second year in a row to be in this situation for us, but you have to give it to Clarkson,” Motzko said. “I thought they played a great game tactically. They took the middle of the ice away. We just couldn’t get on track.”
Clarkson 011 — 2
St. Cloud State 010 — 1
First Period — None. Penalties — Paquet, Cla (ob.-interference), 1:46; Cayer, Cla (cross-checking), 11:32; Williamson, Cla (tripping), 16:34; Guthrie, Cla (hitting after whistle), 20:00; Hartman, SCS (hitting after whistle), 20:00.
Second Period — 1, St. Cloud State, Raboin 3 (Roe, Hartman), 4:08. 2, Clarkson, Cayer 10 (Rufenach, Mason), 14:12. Penalties — Mosey, SCS (hooking), 6:00; Anderson, SCS (tripping), 12:10; Cayer, cla (hooking), 18:47.
Third Period — 3, Clarkson, Guthrie 9 (Clitsome), 4:58. Penalties — Volpei, SCS (hitting from behind), 6:34; Tuttle, Cla (ob.-interference), 8:46; Mason, Cla (interference), 15:48.
Shots on Goal — Clarkson 15-14-11 — 40. St. Cloud State 11-5-9 — 25.
Power-play opportunities — Clarkson 0 of 4; St. Cloud State 0 of 6.
Goalies — Clarkson, Leggio 22-11-4 (25 shots-24 saves). St. Cloud State, Weslosky 16-13-2 (40-38).
T — 2:24.
Referee — Tim Benedetto. Assistant referees — Chris Frederico, Chris Aughe.
More from The Daily Gazette: