HANOVER, N.H. — It’s a tossup.
Dartmouth entered Friday night’s game with Clarkson looking to make a statement at home against the defending ECAC regular-season champions. Clarkson simply wanted its first win on the road.
The Big Green took three separate leads but couldn’t seal the deal, settling for a 3-3 tie against the extraordinarily physical Golden Knights in front of 3,318 at Thompson Arena.
Mike Murray, Mike Maturo and Chris Baldwin scored the goals for Dartmouth (8-7-2, 5-3-2 ECAC), which received outstanding goaltending from Nick Boucher, especially late.
“I thought Boucher played great in goal,” said head coach Bob Gaudet. “He really had a huge effort for us.
“Overall,” Gaudet added, “I thought it was a very good game. Our guys played well. That’s a good hockey team we played against. I thought we battled and had our chances. We’d like to get two points, but we’ll take the tie.”
For Clarkson (9-7-4, 5-0-3 ECAC), which received goals from Randy Jones, Joe Carosa and Chris Bahen, the tie is a mixed blessing. The Golden Knights remain unbeaten in league play but also winless overall on the road (0-4-3).
Lacking a flashy superstar forward, the well-coached Golden Knights displayed punishing physical play for the full 65 minutes, allowing them to dominate possession time and get several good looks at the Dartmouth net.
“I don’t think we’re very effective if we aren’t physical,” said Clarkson coach Mark Morris, now in his 14th season behind the bench. “We aren’t blessed with the headline players that we’ve had in the past, so goals are few and far between. We have to play solid defensively and if we play the body, we’re going to be effective.”
In the Dartmouth net, Boucher was at his characteristic best, making up for a lack of prowess when he ventured outside of the crease by being very tough to beat when he was in it.
Boucher finished the game with 36 saves, including eight big ones in the third period and three in overtime.
“Clarkson had some pretty glorious opportunities,” the junior netminder said. “There were a couple from right around the area in front of the net. I think those are the kind of saves we’re going to need. To come up big like that is a big confidence boost.”
Dartmouth’s first goal was solid evidence that fans should show up on time. With Clarkson looking to set up a play behind its net, Kent Gillings and Maturo stole away the puck and Maturo centered it to Murray, who roofed it just fifteen seconds into the game.
After Murray’s goal, the game took on a physical nature and settled into a rhythm. Clarkson outshot Dartmouth, 13-7, in the first period, but both goaltenders were strong.
The action heated up in the middle frame, as the teams alternated goals.
The Golden Knights tied it at one at the 3:15 mark. With Chris Hontvet in the bad-boy box for slashing — a penalty called by a linesman — defenseman Randy Jones lit the lamp from the top of the right circle, sending in a shot that deflected off a Dartmouth player.
The Big Green responded less than three minutes later with a Maturo goal, as the co-captain one-timed a pass from Gillings behind the net. Maturo’s goal, combined with an earlier assist, gave him 23 points in 17 games.
The teams traded goals late in the period, as Carosa’s game-tier at the 13:02 mark was followed by a Baldwin one-timer for Dartmouth at 16:51.
The third period got underway with a Bahen goal for Clarkson at the 3:43 mark, but after that, the goaltenders went unsolved. The Golden Knights seemed to have the best scoring opportunities in the third period, but Boucher maintained the tie.
Each team took three shots in the extra session.
“Tonight, we had some unbelievable opportunities to put the game away, but their goalie came up big,” Morris said. “Both goalies were pretty strong, for that matter, but it was a good college hockey game. The fans got their money’s worth.”
The Big Green returns to action Saturday when St. Lawrence pays a visit. Clarkson, meantime, will have a good chance for that first road win when it plays last-place Vermont up the road in Burlington.