SCHENECTADY -- It's not on the stat sheet, but if you're scoring at home, Union men's hockey head coach Rick Bennett tallied five "dumb" references during his post-game interview.
Also four "pathetics," two "softs" and one "embarrassing" for good measure.
The Dutchmen picked the wrong night to let down their guard, because the No. 3 team in the country, Clarkson, came into Messa Rink and skated out with a 4-1 ECAC Hockey victory before an over-capacity crowd of 2,449.
Union (7-4-0 ECACH, 11-12-1 overall) outplayed the Golden Knights (9-0-0 ECACH, 17-3-1 overall) in the second period, but by then the damage had been done, and there would be more in the third.
Then Bennett took a blowtorch to the whole mess, in particular a botched play that led to Clarkson's first goal, just 55 seconds into the game, and two first-period penalties by junior wing Sebastian Vidmar.
"We didn't want to win bad enough," he said. "It didn't mean enough to us. After that shift, that was pathetic. After that shift, that was pathetic, and you know what, if you want to be pathetic, then you can go be pathetic in the locker room."
The shift in question resulted in a turnover and a 2-on-1 that Devin Brosseau buried behind helpless goalie Darion Hanson for a 1-0 lead.
There were barely skate marks on the fresh ice at that point, but Bennett sent the offending parties to the locker room to think it over.
"Well, it's a breakdown. It's a turnover, and then a line change after you've turned it over," Bennett said. "The third one, it's in the back of our net. And this is from a veteran. It's beyond me. We talk about keeping it simple, and for the love of whatever, it's frustrating."
"Any time you come in, big game, obviously they're ranked pretty high, then the puck's in the back of your net a minute into the game, it's definitely deflating," senior Ryan Scarfo said.
Vidmar tied it at 1-1 on the power play, less than two minutes after he had a goal disallowed, at 14:02, but even that didn't get him out of the coach's doghouse.
By then, he had already been in the penalty box twice, for cross-checking at 3:29 and unsportsmanlike conduct at 7:51.
"I had a couple in the first period that were terrible decisions on my part," Vidmar said. "We had another questionable one in the third, and that takes the air out of us a little bit, and they're able to get momentum from it."
"That [first goal] leads to our veterans taking dumb, dumb, dumb penalties," Bennett said. "Dumb. Absolutely dumb penalties. And now we're skating uphill the whole game. And against a team like that, you're just begging for it."
Clarkson took a 2-1 lead on Jere Astren's fourth goal, a snipe from the right circle that found the upper right corner.
Union outshot Clarkson 15-8 in the second period, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
"I really liked our team in the first period," Golden Knights head coach Casey Jones said. "I thought we came out with great intensity. And the second period was a little bit of, we've had one game in a month."
In the third period, Clarkson got goals from Aaron Thow at 6:51, on another long bomb -- this time from the left point -- and Jack Jacome at 10:50.
That pretty much made moot any late-game strategy of pulling Hanson for an extra skater.
Asked to grade Union's desire to get tough in front of Clarkson goalie Jake Kielly to screen or scramble for rebounds, Bennett said:
"What are we going, A through F, or 1 out of 10? 1 out of 10 ... zero. Effort. Soft. And that's on me. I'll get them to get there."
Clarkson 2 0 2 -- 4
Union 1 0 0 -- 1
First period -- 1, Clarkson, Brosseau 5 (Sturm, Summers), :55. 2, Union, Vidmar 6 (Estes, Campbell), 14:02 (pp). 3, Clarkson, Asttren 4 (Karjalainen, Charyszyn), 18:54. Penalties -- Vidmar, Union (cross-checking), 3:29; Rempal, Clarkson (interfrence), 3:45; Vidmar, Union (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:51; Dickinson, Clarkson (cross-checking), 12:29; Emelifeonwu, Union (boarding), 15:46.
Second period -- None. Penalties -- Jacome, Clarkson (cross-checking), 7:02; Maier, Union (holding), 14:31; Sturm, Clarkson (slashing), 15:04.
Third period -- 4, Clarkson, Thow 2 (Rempal, Moro), 6:51. 5, Clarkson, Jacome 3 (EWgle, Dickinson), 10:50. Penalties -- Clarkson bench (too many men on ice, served by Brosseau), 7:51; Summers, Clarkson (roughing), 14:11; Brown, Union (roughing), 14:11; Newhouse, Union (cross-checking), 18L:17.
Shots on goal -- Clarkson 12-8-9 -- 29; Union 10-15-8 -- 33.
Power play opportunities -- Clarkson ; Union .
Goalies -- Clarkson, Kielly 17-3-1 (33 shots-32 saves); Union, Hanson 7-3-0 (29-25).
T -- 2:12. A -- 2,449. Referees -- Peter Feola, Chip McDonald. Linesmen -- Stephen Drain, James Shea.