by Brett Gobe/CHN Reporter
ALBANY, N.Y. Eight years ago, Clarkson was in the ECAC semifinals. The Knights used a solid first period to jump out to a 4-1 lead and looked to be rolling along to a win over the Princeton Tigers. The Tigers battled back and notched an extra attacker goal in the last minute to knot the game at 5. Seemingly going to OT, the Knights appeared to be beaten, when Willie Mitchell launched a half ice shot that dipped and dived and beat Princeton goaltender Craig Bradley.
History has an odd way of repeating itself.
The 2007 Golden Knights used a solid effort in the first and second period to build a 3-1 lead going into the third against another Ivy League foe, the Dartmouth Big Green. The Knights had a daunting 18-0-2 record when going into the third period with a lead. Dartmouth was resilient and pressed hard and they were rewarded when Kevin Swallow found Grant Lewis at the right circle, Lewis beat Clarkson netminder David Leggio and the game was 3-2.
Unlike the 1999 Knights, this year's team bounced back. A nice goal from Chris D'Alvise restored the two goal margin, but Dartmouth was not finished.
"I thought it was a great college hockey game," said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet. "It was a slugfest."
Dartmouth slugged back twice more in the third, on goals from T.J. Galiardi and J.T. Wyman. The Wyman goal came with 1:40 left on the clock. The goal could have been a demoralizing goal for the Knights. The lead they worked to protect all night was gone, and their star goaltender was having a rough period.
"I thought the guys kinda picked (Leggio) up tonight," said Clarkson coach George Roll. "He made a big stop right before the last rush, if he doesn't make that stop we don't get that last opportunity."
The last opportunity proved to be the game winner.
Unlike the miracle in 1999, this year the shot came from inside the blueline. Steve Zalewski took a Shawn Weller pass and fired a wrist shot that beat Devine to the glove side and the Knights skated away with a 5-4 victory.
"Shawn made a good play just getting it to me," said Zalewski. "One of their d-men stepped up and it was pretty much just me and the goalie. I just wanted to get a good shot off on the short side."
The goal sent the Clarkson crowd into a frenzy and sent the Knights into tomorrow's final against Quinnipiac.
"Even though we had some defensive lapses, I thought our team played great tonight," said Roll on his team's effort.
Tonight marked the fourth time the Knights have given up more than four goals in the last 15 games, but the first time they were victorious. The last time the Knights gave up four goals in a game was against this same Dartmouth team at Cheel. The Knights need a third period comeback to earn the tie.
"If we come back with that same effort tomorrow, it will be another great game," said Roll on the championship. "I think we are pretty similar. (Quinnipiac) moves the puck well. We have got to play well defensively."
The following night in 1999, Clarkson won the ECAC title following the Mitchell Miracle. Tomorrow night Clarkson looks to make to history repeat again.