HANOVER, N.H. — Nothing ventured, nothing gained?
Think of Saturday night’s 0-0 tie between Maine and Dartmouth at Thompson Arena as a case of getting something from nothing.
The Big Green (4-4-1) — fueled by memories of a bitter loss to the No. 8 Black Bears (9-6-1) in Orono last year — peppered Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard with 33 shots, but the junior was up to the task. Howard’s best came on a sliding robbery of the Big Green’s David Jones midway through the game, but his last didn’t come until the former U.S. national developmental teamer stoned Darcy Marr before the final buzzer of overtime.
“If you’re a fan of goaltending, this was your game,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “Both guys put on a special performance.”
The nil-nil final was Dartmouth’s first since Eric Almon backstopped a similar result at Massachusetts on Dec. 14, 1997. It was the first scoreless tie in Thompson history and the first for Dartmouth in Hanover since — cue the Glenn Miller Orchestra — a 0-0 deadlock with Yale on Feb. 8, 1941. Maine and Northeastern played to a scoreless draw back on Valentine’s Day.
“Both teams really worked hard,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “There was no giving up space; you really had to work for every inch you got on the ice. It was an enjoyable game.”
Dan Yacey put in a workmanlike effort, making 22 saves for his fourth career shutout. But he did have to survive one very hairy moment four minutes into the second period.
It began when Maine’s Keenan Hopson intercepted a Grant Lewis outlet along the left-wing boards and went buzzing in Yacey’s direction. Before Hopson could attempt a shot, Dartmouth defenseman John Ostapyk raced to the rescue with a sliding poke-check.
The Black Bears kept play alive, however, and Yacey denied Maine’s Keith Johnson on a stuff attempt before forcing a Bret Tyler follow over the net.
“I was down and out, kind of on my stomach, and (Tyler) had an open net down on the low right side,” Yacey said. “I lifted up my pad as much as I could, being in the position I was, and got a piece of it.”
Howard’s answer came barely six minutes later.
Freed by a Maine turnover and a lead pass from freshman Nick Johnson, Dartmouth’s Eric Przepiorka — the overtime hero in a 2-1 win over Cornell last week — hit David Jones with a pass on the right wing. Jones got all wood on the shot, but Howard slid from left post to right and made a sprawling glove save at 10:37 that left the partisan crowd of 4,256 humming.
“We’re real proud of Jimmy,” Whitehead said. “He’s fought back from not just a lot of injuries, but mono in the summer. It’s been a long haul for him, and he’s really getting back into form.”
Yacey added nine saves in the third period and two in overtime. Howard had to make 12 stops in the final regulation stanza, four on a late Dartmouth power play, and three more in the extra session. Marr provided one last test at the last possible moment after captain Lee Stempniak seemingly turned nothing — a loose puck out of a right-corner scrum — into a dangerous crease pass.
Dartmouth dropped a 3-2 decision at Maine last season, but only after having an apparent tying goal by Stempniak washed out by a crease violation with a second left in regulation.
“We seem to be playing pretty well defensively, not giving up a lot of chances, not giving up a lot of goals,” Stempniak said. “Obviously, we’ve been fighting to score some goals. So I don’t think (a scoreless tie) was out of the realm of possibility.”
Maine returns to Hockey East in a brace with Merrimack next weekend. Dartmouth enters fall-term exams next week and is off until a Dec. 10 Thompson date with Massachusetts-Lowell.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.