Icemen Skate Through Clarkson, 3-2 Challenge Saints Tonight for Title

POTSDAM, N.Y.--Call off the requiem. Reroute those flowers headed for the family plot.

After falling twice at home last weekend, the Harvard hockey team knocked off Clarkson, 3-2, here last night in front of 1625 spectators at Walker Arena.

Far from being dead, Harvard is now in position to finish first in the league. The Crimson (17-5 ECAC, second in the league) will face off against first-place St. Lawrence tonight in Canton N.Y. Winner take all.

"Our goal now is to get number one," said Harvard Coach Bill Cleary, sporting a grin for the first time in two weeks. "We're ready to go. St. Lawrence is without a doubt, one of the best teams around. They're big, they're strong, and they've got good speed."

In a pair of home losses to Vermont and R.P.I. last weekend, the Crimson looked like someone had stolen its rocket fuel. But the jets were running smoothly last night.

"I'm happy with the way we played on both ends of the ice," Harvard Captain Steve Armstrong said. "Tonight was important to us, not only to win, but to play well. Now, things are in our hands."

Look out, SLU.

Clarkson (9-9-3 ECAC) stumbled into the league playoffs, which begin on campus sites next weekend, because of Dartmouth's 4-2 loss to St. Lawrence last night. The Golden Knights are now in seventh place in the league. Eight teams will participate in the ECAC tournament.

Last night, Clarkson got on the board first, capitalizing on a scramble in front of the Harvard net with 11 minutes gone in the first period. Mike Castleman trapped the puck two feet in front of goalie John Devin and then flipped the puck over Devin's shoulder.

But senior Andy Janfaza didn't need much time to bring the Crimson back. Driving into the left corner of the Clarkson end 30 seconds later, Janfaza reared and flipped a shot that slid perpendicular to the Clarkson net before hitting goaltender John Fletcher's pads and bouncing in.

"We played a good first period, but they got a good bounce on their goal," Clarkson Coach Cap Reader said.

The Crimson power play unit--a middling sixth in the ECAC with a 20.6 percent efficiency rate--showed uncharacteristic poise with three minutes left in the opening period. Defenseman Josh Caplan took advantage of a screen and fired a shot from the point past Fletcher for a 2-1 Crimson advantage.

Clarkson's mascot, the Golden Knight, proved himself an unchivalrous creature between periods, taunting Devin by drooping a white flag in front of him, and leading cheers of "sieve, sieve." Crimson defenseman Jerry Pawloski apparently had enough of the Knight's antics and shoved him aside before the team's huddle to begin the final period.

The Crimson power play ignited again early in the third period. Pawloski slapped a pass to Scott McCormack, who slapped a shot from the blue line that flew under Fletcher's pads for a 3-1 Crimson edge.

A Clarkson power play with seven minutes left in the game went for naught. Harvard smothered the Knights' extra-man attack seven times last night, and now has killed 55 straight penalties in league play.

Still, the Crimson defense could not hold before the final gun went off. On a face off with two seconds left in the game, Clarkson's Mike Morrison controlled the puck and whipped it past Devin.

The Knight goal was deflating, but by that time, Harvard was already looking ahead to tonight's showdown.

"It won't be a cup of tea," Davin said.

THE NOTEBOOK: Devin finished with 21 saves, Fletcher with 32...Last year, SLU beat Harvard, 4-3, on the last day of the regular season. The two teams met in the finals of the ECAC tournament, with Harvard finishing on top, 6-3...In January, Harvard dropped SLU, 4-3...Cornell assured itself of third place in the league with a victory over RPI...Vermont beat Colgate, last night in Burlington, VT. to earn the league's fourth playoff spot.