POTSDAM, N.Y. — Junior Dan Tuttle broke a 1-1 tie in overtime to push Clarkson past Massachusetts Friday night. The Golden Knights came out of the gates with sloppy play, facing a feisty Minuteman defense that played Clarkson similarly in last season’s NCAA regional matchup.
Following a poor performance on their first power play, the Knights started strong on their second man-advantage of the first period. Massachusetts’ defense managed to apply plenty of pressure, however, disrupting Clarkson’s chance at establishing rhythm.
“Maybe it was just nerves, but I thought we did a pretty good job. We didn’t give them many grade-A [opportunities]. I think our confidence from the St. Lawrence game was maybe a little bit shaken, but we stuck with it tonight,” said Clarkson head coach George Roll.
The Minutemen nearly broke through with 5:33 to play in the opening period on a shot that almost sneaked under goalie David Leggio’s right leg. The senior fell on the loose puck, preserving the deadlock as the teams headed towards intermission.
“They disrupted flow quite a bit; I thought they played a real strong defensive game,” said Massachusetts head coach Don Cahoon. “We were less than effective through the middle of the rink which caused most of our problems in the second and third period on.”
The Knights had an early shot at claiming the lead in the second period on a wraparound attempt by freshman Scott Freeman. Freshman netminder Paul Dainton was able to snuff the attempt, trapping the puck between his skate and the pipe.
With 10:42 to play the officials went to the replay booth to review a potential tally for Clarkson. Following a scrum in front of the Massachusetts net in which Dainton ended up inside his own goal, there was a question of whether or not the puck — underneath Dainton — had crossed the goal line. Without clear evidence, the play was upheld and the score remained at 0-0.
The Minutemen finally prevailed at the 13:45 mark of the second period. After a flurry of shots was stopped by Leggio, sophomore Justin Braun cleaned up the loose puck in front on an assist by junior Cory Quirk.
“They’re a hard team to play against, they’re very well disciplined, they’re well coached, and they rely on their goaltender in a lot of situations,” said Roll. “They have a lot of veteran guys back there [on defense] and they’re going to be a good team this year.”
Heading into the third period the Knights had a growing scoreless streak against the Minutemen that they would soon snap. Just 53 seconds into the final period senior captain Nick Dodge put Clarkson on the board to tie the game. Fellow senior David Cayer found classmate Steve Zalewski on a centering pass before Zalewski hooked up with Dodge on the right side. Dodge then fired his shot and hit the five-hole on Dainton.
The goal ended a 118:43 scoreless streak against the Minutemen dating back to last season’s 3-3 overtime tie between the two teams. The goal by Dodge was also his 100th career point.
Clarkson freshman defenseman Bryan Rufenach came closest to putting the Knights ahead with 13:52 to play in regulation, hitting the left pipe on a shot fired from the blueline.
No strangers to overtime games, Clarkson and Massachusetts played their third overtime contest in the past two seasons. The Knights ended the affair just 59 seconds into play. Dodge found Tuttle on a centering pass, beating Dainton to his right.
“It would have been nice to sneak through the five minutes [of overtime] and get out of here with a tie,” reflected Cahoon.
Clarkson now stands at 1-1-0 on the season while Massachusetts drops to 0-1-0. Clarkson welcomes Providence Saturday night while Massachusetts travels to St. Lawrence, which defeated Providence Friday 4-1.