HAMDEN, Conn. -- Clarkson’s Women’s Frozen Four semifinal Friday was the Golden Knights’ first game this late into any postseason, so it was understandable when their nerves made themselves evident early on.
The nerves were staring Clarkson in the face on the scoreboard, too, when the horn sounded at the end of the first period. The Knights were outshooting Mercyhurst 14-9, but a Jaclyn Arbour goal 8:02 into the game was enough to send the teams back to their locker rooms with the Lakers in the lead.
Knights defenseman Renata Fast tied the game up an even five minutes into the second frame after firing a shot past Lakers goaltender Amanda Makela in off the right-hand post. Clarkson then took the lead soon enough, and its hold on the game never weakened from then on.
Knights forward Vanessa Gagnon made it 2-1 to Clarkson 4:16 after Fast’s tally, and Clarkson then got out of the second period with a 3-1 lead after forward Christine Lambert found the net at 16:24.
Two more Clarkson forwards, Brittany Styner and Shannon MacAulay, scored goals of their own in the third period even though, in truth, the Knights seemed to have the game well in hand after 40 minutes.
“Coming out into the second period, we just knew what to do,” Fast said. “In the first period, we [applied] pressure and we were doing everything right, but it’s just obviously the results that didn’t come back how we wanted, but we just needed to keep calm even though it was our first Frozen Four.
“That was our first period gotten out of the way, and we just needed to come back out hard exactly the way we were doing it, and we knew [the goals] would come.”
That they did, and Clarkson co-head coach Matt Desrosiers said after the game that he was pleased with his team’s ability to keeping doing what it’d done right in the first period as the night rolled along.
“It’s the biggest win in the program’s history,” Desrosiers said, “And I thought the girls did a great job of just kind of sticking with it tonight.
“I think we came out maybe with a little bit of jitters and that, and then when they got the first goal, the energy went down a little bit, but I give a lot of credit to our players that they just stuck with it, brought the energy level back up and just stuck with the game plan and followed through with it.”
Now, though, Clarkson will take on top-ranked Minnesota on Sunday in this year’s national championship game at High Point Solutions Arena. The Gophers are now riding a 26-game unbeaten streak after besting arch-rival Wisconsin 5-3 in Friday’s first semifinal.
When Desrosiers, Fast and Gagnon spoke with media members after their win Friday, though, it didn’t sound as if Clarkson fears its final foe of the season.
“We’re going to appreciate what we’ve done,” Gagnon said, “But our main goal’s not done yet, so we’re looking ahead of us and have a big game coming up, and we’re not backing down.
“It’s not because it’s Minnesota, but we’re going to be aggressive and we’re going to be even more into it, and [the Gophers] are going to get a hell of a good game.”