Clarkson Wins 8th Straight to take Belfast Tournament
BELFAST, Northern Ireland Clarkson took its hot play overseas and continued right on through the weekend, capturing the third annual Friendship Four tournament in Belfast with a 4-2 win over Providence.
Providence took an early lead, but the Golden Knights quickly took control midway through the second period as Devin Brosseau scored on the power play at five minutes and Kevin Charyszyn scored on a tip seven minutes later.
The goals were the boost Clarkson needed in a raucous, packed SSE Arena in Belfast as the Golden Knights became the first ECAC team to win the so-named Belpot Trophy.
Tournament attendance is expected to break a record, with over 20,000 flocking to the successful tournament. The final was near capacity in the 8,000 seat SSE Arena. Coaches and players alike enjoyed the experiences abroad. Clarkson's pep band also made the trip and stole the show, at times.
"It has been a great week meeting people and the hospitality has been great for us," Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. "We did all our touring early and really dialed in on hockey by Wednesday and I thought we did a great job with that.
"The crowds were unbelievable. I have been coaching college hockey for 25 years and afternoon games don't draw anywhere. Those two games showed the people and the city are behind this and they promote it well. We had two great atmospheres."
Clarkson has now won eight games in a row, is second in the Pairwise and is 12-3-1. It hasn't dropped a game since losing a pair at Minnesota.
"Obviously, we are just trying to chip away at the season and stay true to who we are," Jones said. "I thought we battled through that first period and they put us on our heels after scoring the first goal. From second period on, we really trusted our process and played to who we are."
Providence falls to 8-5-1 and had a four-game unbeaten steak snapped.
This marks the second straight year that Clarkson won a Thanksgiving weekend holiday tournament; it won Notre Dame's last season.
"The whole weekend, I thought we were dominant," said Clarkson goalie Jake Kielly. "Besides a little bit of the last period, for the majority of the tournament, I felt we were the best team out here. We did what we do well and that worked out for us."
Erik Foley scored at 10:16 of the first period when he came from behind the net and put a shot off Kielly's skate into the net. It gave them a boost and carried the play for the rest of the first, but were unable to take advantage.
"The big thing after that goal was that we just needed to find a way to get through the period," said Kielly. "It has been a nice thing that we haven't had that adversity throughout the year but I thought we did a really good job of locking it down after that. We regrouped really well and came out really hard. That gave me a boost of confidence as well."
Brosseau tied the game on a 5-on-3 after two straight tripping calls on Providence.
"We took two (costly) penalties against the best power play in the country," Providence coach Nate Lemans said. "It is immaturity. The second one, there was no need for that penalty — a neutral zone trip and it allowed them to get back in the game. We had played a really good game up to that point."
Tyko Karjalainen's point-shot was tipped home by Charyszyn at 12:13 and gave the Knights the lead for good.
Moments later Clarkson killed off a penalty that was mostly spent in their own zone. They blocked five shots and Kielly made a couple of great stops in the process.
Clarkson took complete control early in the third period. Nico Sturm, who is from Germany, gave his team a 3-1 lead just a minute into the period. Sturm got a great entry pass into the zone, made a move around Hawkey and slid the puck home. Just over a minute later, Grant Cooper added to the edge and made it 4-1.
"We came out of the locker room and it was a one-goal game," said Leaman. "I thought we were in a good spot, certainly one we have been in before, and they made a couple plays. The difference in the game, I thought, was that they got to the net a little better than we did."
Kielly was named player of the tournament and gave up just two goals on 44 shots, continuing his strong season between the pipes.