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Clemson ice hockey team ‘has nothing to lose’ after AAU National Tournament opener

Ellie Godwin // Provided

Centerman John McKeon skates toward the goal during Clemson’s game against South Carolina on Jan. 28, 2023.

The Clemson club ice hockey team suffered a 4-1 loss to the Niagara Purple Eagles on Friday, March 10, in its first-ever AAU National Tournament game.
Niagara struck first at the 13:20 mark of the opening period on a shot from Zachary Briggs. The Purple Eagles scored again at the 4:22 mark in the period, taking a 2-0 lead into the second period.
Twenty-one seconds into the middle frame, Clemson defenseman Thomas Samuelsen put the Tigers on the board to bring Clemson within a goal at 2-1. The Tigers had opportunities to equalize during the second period, including a penalty shot, but were unable to break through Niagara’s defense. With 3:51 left in the second, Niagara increased its lead to 3-1.
The Purple Eagles solidified their lead with 11:32 left in the game on a shot from Ethan Knauf, assisted by Logan Scanlon. Clemson battled hard during the final period but found itself unable to overcome the three-goal deficit.
“We came in and knew they were gonna be good, and they were,” centerman John Mckeon said, “but we’re a great team too… if they’re the top seed, then that’s good for us because we know that we can hang with a team like that. To be honest, I think that’s a team we could beat. If they’re ranked the highest, then I think we could beat anyone here.”
However, The Tigers are not discouraged by this loss. In fact, they’re motivated by it.
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Samuelsen said. “We came in as the 31 seed; every team is going to underestimate us. Our mentality is that we’ve got nothing to lose. We just have to give it our all every game.”
Despite the loss, the Tigers refuse to let anyone count them out this early.
“We had great energy coming in, and we lost, but it’s out of the way,” McKeon told the College Hockey Federation following the loss. “We have two more games here that are guaranteed, and we’re gonna go as hard as we can. That’s why we’re here.”

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Kelly Kaelblein, Senior Reporter
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