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Rhyen McGill’s power-play goal in the first period stood as the game-winner, helping Clarkson defeat Cornell, 1-0, in the ECAC championship game. It is Clarkson’s first championship in their fourth appearance in the title game.
“It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words,” said Clarkson co-captain Cayley Mercer, who can add a tournament title to her three regular-season titles and national championship. “Being able to win with my 21 teammates today was an incredible feeling.”
McGill’s goal came less than 8 minutes into the first period on Clarkson’s first power-play opportunity of the game. With Kaitlin Doering in the box for Cornell, McGill found herself alone at the side of the net, where she deflected a pass from Michaela Pejzlova past Paula Voorheis.
“It was great to get the goal early in the game,” said McGill about the importance of scoring early in such a big game. “I was hanging out back door, and I knew Michaela could see me, and she just put it on my tape.”
Though both teams had four more power-play opportunities throughout the game, McGill’s goal stood as the only one in the contest, as the goaltenders stole the show over the final two periods.
Voorheis finished with 23 saves, while Shea Tiley made 17 for her second straight shutout. The Clarkson netminder, who made 43 saves on the weekend for the tournament Most Outstanding Player, credited her team for helping her shutout the Tigers and Big Red.
“The girls played unbelievably in front of me. They were blocking shots, picking up sticks like we were working on; they made my job 10 times easier.”
Two key penalty kills for the Golden Knights were essential to preserving the shutout, as Cornell’s power play operates at nearly 20 percent and was threatening to tie the game.
“We really focused on our PK tonight; we talked to them before the game and told them how important it was going to be,” said Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers. “In our two previous games against them, their power play was the thing that killed us.”
Those penalty kills, and a late penalty on Cornell as Loren Gabel was trying to score an empty-net goal, helped the Golden Knights earn their first ECAC tournament title against a Cornell team that has won four of the last eight tournaments.
“I thought both teams played a tight checking game tonight; they got a few more odd-man rushes in the second half,” said Big Red coach Doug Derraugh, who earned ECAC coach of the year awards at Friday night’s banquet. “Credit to Clarkson, they really shut us down tonight, and we didn’t get a ton of grade A opportunities.
“They play a very disciplined style, and if they get up on you, like they did tonight, it makes it hard to come back.”
After capturing his first tournament title as head coach of the Golden Knights, Desrosiers was savoring the moment, but wasn’t ready to rest on his laurels.
“It’s a great feeling, but it makes us hungry for more. We have some unfulfilled goals, and we’re looking forward to next weekend.”
Clarkson is headed to the national tournament, while Cornell will have to wait until the selection at 9 p.m. tonight to learn for certain if its season continues.