HANOVER, N.H. — Thompson Arena isn’t the loudest or most imposing rink in the ECAC, but Dartmouth has made it a hellish place for opponents to visit.
Riding a two-goal night from team scoring leader Mike Maturo, the Big Green shut out the visiting Brown Bears, 3-1, before 3,108 fans on Saturday to polish off a perfect weekend and improve to 7-0 at home in 2001.
The game-winner came late in the second period, when Maturo tallied his second of the night on a four-on-four. Collecting a hard rebound off goaltender Yann Danis’ pads, the left winger slapped it through to give the Big Green a 2-0 advantage. Maturo’s goal was his team-leading 13th of the year.
With the win, Dartmouth (11-10-2, 8-6-2 ECAC) improved to 9-4-0 at home on the season, compared to just 2-6-2 on the road. The Bears, meanwhile, suffered their sixth consecutive loss and fell to 4-17-2 (2-12-2 ECAC).
“It’s important for us to make this place a very difficult place to play for the opposition,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, who improved to 3-4-1 against the team he used to coach.
“I felt all along that when we start drawing people — even though I’d like to have a more boisterous crowd at times — that that would make it a much better home-ice advantage. Tonight, I thought the energy helped us to stay focused and played a good game.”
A night after crushing Harvard, 7-0, the Big Green faced a stingy defensive effort from the Bears. Dartmouth outshot Brown, 41-36, but a good portion of those shots (19) came in the third period.
Before then, Dartmouth managed to capitalize on its opportunities.
Most of all, netminder Nick Boucher had a fantastic weekend for the Big Green, making 35 saves to go along with a perfect 22-for-22 night against the Crimson on Friday.
Against the Bears, Boucher was especially crucial on special teams, including a stretch in the first period when he made five saves on one Brown power play.
“The four guys we put on the ice to kill penalties were excellent,” Gaudet said, “but the guy with the pads is such a key thing. Boucher had a super weekend.”
Brown played a solid game in front of the NESN Game of the Week audience, playing strong defense — especially in the first two periods — and receiving a nice night from Denis.
The freshman Denis made 38 saves and played a smart, conservative game, only getting beaten on two impressive goals from Maturo and a strange goal late in the game.
“Our goaltending has been good,” said Brown coach Mike Grillo, whose young team is in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season.
“Our defensive play has been solid, too. We’re struggling at the offensive side of the rink, and I think it’s pretty obvious.”
The Bears outshot the Big Green, 13-10, in the first period, thanks mostly to a vigorous effort on three power plays, but the home team still managed a 1-0 lead.
The goal came six minutes into the game, as the junior Maturo took a dish from linemate Mike Murray before skating to the right circle and blasting a slap shot between goaltender Danis’ legs. Murray and defenseman Trevor Byrne earned assists on the play.
Boucher kept Brown off the scoreboard throughout the remainder of the period, making 13 saves, including a strong five-save effort on Brown’s second power play.
The Bears displayed a strong defensive effort in the middle frame, outshooting the Big Green, 17-12, while limiting the home team to few quality chances.
Dartmouth took advantage of one of those opportunities, however, as Maturo tallied the eventual game-winner on a four-on-four. Maturo’s goal, assisted by Pete Summerfelt and Kent Gillings, gave him 12 points in six career games against Brown, including five in two games this year.
On a strange goal, the Big Green upped its lead to 3-0 with six minutes left in the game. After accepting a pass from Frank Nardella, junior Chris Baldwin fired an errant shot that caromed off the glass, bounced all the way into the crease and hit Danis’ legs before trickling between the pipes for Baldwin’s ninth goal of the year.
Minutes later, Brown snapped the shutout, as right winger John Petricig grabbed a rebound and poked it past Boucher for his fifth of the year. The goal, assisted by Dough Janjevich and Tye Korbl, snapped a 120-minute, 52-second scoreless streak for Boucher.
Both teams will be back in action next Friday night, when the Big Green heads to the Empire State to face Cornell, while Brown returns home to battle St. Lawrence.