HANOVER, N.H. — Hollywood says: Let a smile be your umbrella. Colgate men’s hockey coach Don Vaughan says: Let a good defense be your umbrella.
Either way, you’ll come out looking stout in the end.
The Raiders received their usual solid game from senior goaltender Steve Silverthorn last night in a 2-1 ECAC Hockey League win over Dartmouth before 4,010 fans at Thompson Arena. But it was Colgate’s defenders who deserved equal billing for blocking 33 shots — one more than the Raider offense attempted at the other end of the ice.
Darryl McKinnon’s first-period goal set the tone for Colgate, while Tyler Burton answered a third-period tally from Dartmouth’s Tanner Glass to keep the Raiders (8-3 overall, 3-0 ECACHL) perfect in league play.
“We made an effort to try and help him a little more; we haven’t done that in this building very often,” Vaughan said. “We tried to keep the shots to the perimeter. We knew they were going to probably have the territorial play tonight … We just tried to keep the shots on the outside and not give up too many second or third chances.”
History was the guide for Colgate.
Entering Friday night, the Raiders had allowed an average of nearly 45 shots a game in their last five games against the Big Green (3-4 overall, 2-3 ECACHL) at Thompson over two seasons, including a three-game loss in the conference quarterfinals in 2002-03. Silverthorn had started them all and showed well, but only had a 1-3-1 record for his troubles.
The senior put up 13 stops in the first period and was backed by McKinnon’s goal at 5:24 of the first period, a stuff in crease-edge traffic past Dartmouth netminder Dan Yacey (13 saves).
“I think that was big for us,” Vaughan said.
The Big Green managed just three shots on goal over the middle 20 minutes, primarily because Raider bodies accounted for 13 blocks, including on good mid-period opportunities for Dartmouth’s Mike Ouellette and Ben Lovejoy. Glass finally broke Dartmouth’s donut at 4:59 of the third, batting the rebound of a Sean Offers shot over the prone Silverthorn. The score ended a home goalless drought of 114 minutes, 4 seconds.
“It’s frustrating, because we played well enough to score five goals tonight,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “And the difference between scoring one and scoring three, four or five is very, very, very slight.”
Burton broke free from a Big Green defender to wrap a point-blank shot around Yacey’s right leg at 10:54 for the game-winner. Defenseman Mike Campaner set the play up with his 11th assist of the year, tying him with New Hampshire’s Brian Yandle for the nation’s lead in blueliner assists at press time.
Dartmouth, a preseason pick to contend for an ECACHL championship, is now 2-3 at Thompson this season with just 11 goals on home ice.
“Our defense has been strong,” Dartmouth blueliner Mike Hartwick said. “I don’t think we can help the fact that everyone’s down a little bit, but I think we’ll bounce back. … If we have to battle through 1-0 games, then that’s the way it’s going to have to go.”
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H.