SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — For the second straight game, Union spent too much time in its own zone. It cost the Dutchmen last Saturday at Dartmouth.
Against Clarkson on Friday at a sold out Achilles Rink, the Dutchmen were fortunate.
Goalie Brandon Snee did his best to bail out his teammates. The senior netminder made 37 saves as the Dutchmen skated to a 3-3 ECAC with the Golden Knights.
Snee, the reigning ECAC goalie of the week, doesn’t mind the workload. He has stopped 81 shots the past two games.
“I prefer it this way, believe it or not” Snee said. “Those games where you get only 18 shots makes it tough to stay in it mentally.”
The tie enabled Union (11-8-6, 6-6-3 ECAC) to hold on to sixth place. The Dutchmen have a two-point lead over seventh-place Rensselaer, and trail fifth place Colgate by two points for the final home-ice playoff spot.
The Dutchmen gave up 47 shots to Dartmouth. They wasted a 2-0 lead in the third period and lost, 3-2.
Against Clarkson (11-10-6, 7-3-5), Union was outshot, 40-29, including 30-15 over the final 45 minutes.
“I think we’re spending way too much time in our own zone,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We’re tired. We end up playing 40 seconds in our zone. The last thing we want to think about is any offense. Our game has to be using our speed to our advantage, and getting pucks out of our zone and sustaining some attack in the neutral zone so that we can get in and be fresh.”
Freshman forward Jordan Webb, who scored Union’s third goal on a deflection of a Randy Dagenais shot 14 seconds into the third period, isn’t using the team’s youth as an excuse for its sudden defensive problems.
“We’ve just got to stay focused, and concentrate,” Webb said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games this year. We have to stay positive with the puck, and confident without it.”
Some of the 2,504 fans were still filing in when the Dutchmen took a 1-0 lead 38 seconds into the game.
Joel Beal took advantage of a shanked shot by Clarkson defenseman Chris Bahen and scored on a breakaway. He put a backahnder between goalie Mike Walsh’s legs.
“I looked for him to give me a hole,” Beal said. “He came out right at me. I made a quick move, and he opened up.”
The Knights got that one back with 6:18 left in the first period on Randy Jones’ power-play goal. Dagenais put Union up a goal again at 6:39 of the second period when his wrist shot sailed past Walsh’s glove.
The Knights got another power-play goal to tie it with 5:25 left in the second. They had to work for that one. During the power play, they had a potential goal taken away because the net was off its supports, and another opportunity was inches from going over the goal line before Chris DiStefano got his stick behind Snee to keep the puck out.
Matt Poapst eventually scored the tying goal. He knocked down the rebound of a Kerry Ellis-Toddington shot with his glove, and jammed the puck past Snee.
“You expend a lot of energy in executing, and come up with one goal,” Clarkson coach Mark Morris said. “It could have been a two-goal margin in our favor at that point and time.”
Nearly three minutes after Webb’s goal, former Capital District Selects player Zach Schwan scored the game-tying tally when he tipped an Ian Manzano shot over Snee’s right shoulder.
“Sometimes the better team doesn’t win,” Morris said.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.