For the third time in four years the Clarkson Golden Knights are ECAC Champions. None of this shared title nonsense – we have tiebreakers for a reason – and none of the belief that the real champion is the Tournament winner. The best team is the one that proves themselves over 22 games, not over four or five and the Knights have done exactly that, tying their best ever point total with two games to play.
Early on this weekend it looked like the primary gain would be keeping the ECAC hosting duties in the North Country. Clarkson needed to gain one point on Cornell to ensure that either they or the Saints would win the conference trophy and host the final two rounds of the ECAC tournament. Instead Clarkson swept the weekend and St. Lawrence managed just a tie against Quinnipiac while losing to Princeton.
The clincher came late in a gritty, low-shot game that would see the Bobcats taking 21 shots to Clarkson’s 18. Rhyen McGill put a hard shot on net and goaltender Sydney Rossman couldn’t swallow or redirect the shot, popping the puck to a streaking Jessica Gilham with a wide open net.
Gilham would pot the goal that clinched the conference but it was Loren Gabel who had the standout weekend, notching two goals and an assist in the 3-1 win over Princeton. Even with Michaela Pejzlova out of the lineup the Knights top line has been red hot. Cayley Mercer and Genevieve Bannon also had three points on the weekend.
The conference title was a nice grab on the weekend, but maintaining a hold on first or second was critically important. There’s a big difference between being in one of the top two spots and getting 8-10-2 Yale, 7-12-1 RPI, or 4-12-4 Harvard in the first round and finishing third and seeing 13-3-4 Cornell, 13-6-1 Colgate, 12-6-2 Princeton or 11-6-3 Quinnipiac. Luckily the Knights won’t have to worry about it as their semifinal and the final two rounds of the ECAC tournament will be played in the friendly confines of Cheel Arena. St. Lawrence probably isn’t too bummed either as they will also host their semifinal and only have to travel 11 miles should they advance.
This will be the Knights third ECAC regular season title and also their third in the last four years. Sadly the Knights have never won the ECAC tournament with 4-3 (OT) and 1-0 losses to Cornell in 2010 and 2014 and a 1-0 loss to Quinnipiac last season.