The Niagara University men’s hockey team blanked Clarkson, 2-0, on Friday evening at Cheel Arena in Potsdam in the first game of the two-game set.

Special teams was the difference in the win over the Golden Knights (0-4-0), as the Purple Eagles (2-2-2) got a powerplay score from Dan Kolenda, while the penalty killing unit killed off five man-disadvantages, including 1:40 worth of 5-on-3 action in the second period. Dan Weiss was solid in the defensive end, making several key blocks while a man down.

“I was really pleased with our five-on-five play tonight,” head coach Dave Burkholder said. “We took it to them for a lot of the game, but I’m more impressed with our penalty kill. We spent a lot of time in the penalty box, but I thought the guys were blocking shots left and right. I think we had a season-high in blocked shots, guys selling out to keep the zero on the Clarkson side. It was just a very spirited road effort especially after what happened last weekend.”

NU also received a score from senior Marc Zanette, while Patrick Divjak, Kevin Ryan, Ryan Murphy and Giancarlo Iuorio added assists.

Carsen Chubak made a career-high 44 saves against the Golden Knights, including 19 in the final period, for his first shutout victory of his career. The teams wrap up their two-game series tonight at 7 p.m.

Cross country

The University at Buffalo will host the 2012 Mid-American Conference Cross Country Championships today at Beaver Island State Park in Grand Island. The women’s 6K race will answer the gun at 11 a.m. followed by the men’s 8K race at noon.

“We are extremely excited to be hosting the 2012 MAC Cross Country Championships,” said UB head coach Vicki Mitchell. “We have worked hard to provide a course that will be excellent for the competitors as well as the spectators. It is exciting for our team to compete at home for the championships. Our season has progressed very well, and for our senior student-athletes, it is an opportunity of a lifetime to compete at home.”

All 12 MAC schools will be represented in the women’s field while the nine schools that have men’s cross country will run.

Women’s title holder Juli Accurso of Ohio won last year’s race in 20:35.3. Men’s runner-up Terefe Ejigu of Eastern Michigan and Akron’s Brad Hough, last season’s third-place finisher, highlight the men’s field as does UB’s Mike Pressler, who earned All-MAC Second Team honors for his 12th-place finish in 2011.

The top 14 runners earn All-MAC honors with the top seven finishers named to the first-team and finishers 8-14 receive second-team honors.