Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
Saturday night saw the Clarkson University Golden Knights take on the Providence College Friars in the Championship Game of the 2017 Friendship Four. In the third year of this international NCAA tournament, it was somewhat expected that Providence would likely be the winner. The previous two years had seen the Hockey East team of the finals with the win. However, Providence had a young team and Clarkson had the tight-knit connections that have been seen in the other winners.
Going into the first period, it did look like Providence was going to carry the game. They were outshooting the Golden Knights and they notched the first goal. In fact as the teams went into their locker rooms during the first intermission, Providence seemed to be in full control of the game.
As things got under way in the middle frame, the Friars took two penalties just 28 seconds apart. The first at 4:40 of the second, was a tripping penalty called on freshman defenseman Jeff Baum. The second at 5:08 was a slashing penalty on sophomore forward Shane Kavanagh—who would find himself sitting two more times in the game for a boarding and a roughing. Clarkson would capitalize during the five-on-three opportunity 50 seconds in, as Devin Brosseau got the Golden Knights on the board, assisted by Terrance Amorosa—himself a decommit from Providence. That goal definitely gave Clarkson energy.
“Took two penalties against the best power play in the country. It’s immaturity. The second penalty was…there was no need for that penalty,” said Friars’ head coach Nate Leaman after a disappointing loss. “It allowed them to get back in the game. I thought we were playing a very good game up to that point.”
As the game went on, Providence had a few chances, and things were still close going into the second intermission, though Clarkson had gone up a goal. However, a one-goal game is still anyone’s game. That all changed when the Golden Knights got their third goal of the game 1:20 into the third period. They responded with a fourth goal just a minute and a half later, and it was clear that the wind had been knocked a bit out of the sails of the Friars.
“If we want these big moments, we have to attack them better and I thought for the first period we attacked it pretty well, but as the game went on, I thought their forechecks and their gaps were tighter,” Leaman expounded on his team’s overall experience.
On the other side of the ice, despite being down a goal at the end of the first period, it was clear that Clarkson wasn’t willing to give up. After getting their tying goal on the power play, the Golden Knights seemed determined to win. Despite what Coach Leaman said about his opponent’s power play, it was actually even strength goals that carried them to the win. Clarkson had one additional power play in the second and two in the third but it was those quick goals at the top of the third that cemented their win and their right to ring the Friendship Four bell.
“We missed some scoring changes and they kind of put us on our heels taking that first goal, but I thought from second period on, I thought we really played towards our process and played to who we are and the outcome was good for us tonight, “ Clarkson’s head coach Casey Jones shared after the game.
Playing to a team’s identity is certainly an important aspect of the any team, but seems to be even more important in hockey which is one of the last true team sports. And as Clarkson showed their resilience in the second period, it gave them the confidence to continue their game, which resulted in the win.
At the end of the game, an individual player from each team was recognized for their contribution to the game and to their team. The Providence Friars’ player Erik Foley was so honored for his opening goal on the game and the assist to the Friars second goal in the third period. Clarkson’s Brosseau got the honor in recognition of his tying goal and an assist on Nico Sturms’ game-winning goal early in the third. There is also a Player of the Tournament who is recognized and awarded the Beacon of Hope Trophy, which gets its name from the Beacon of Hope sculpture in Thanksgiving Square of Belfast. An appropriate award for the Friendship Four which is always played the Friday and Saturday of the American Thanksgiving week, this year’s trophy was given to Clarkson’s goaltender Jake Kielly.
Clarkson was the first team to bring their pep band along and they were the first ECAC Hockey division team to win the tournament. They have raised the bar for their division teams coming over in 2018—Yale University and Union College. They will compete against Hockey East Division’s Boston University and University of Connecticut. And if you are in Belfast or even nearby, make plans to attend what is becoming a most impressive display of hockey talent amidst an exuberant crowd of hockey fans.