HAMILTON, N.Y. — When asked about the frequency of low-scoring games in the ECACHL and what his prediction was regarding who would come away with the league title, Colgate coach Don Vaughan sounded this candid assessment: “It’s ‘gonna come down to who can win the tight ones.”
In yet another low-scoring, mainly defensive game, neither No. 12 Clarkson (12-7-2, 7-3-1 ECACHL) nor Colgate (8-9-4, 2-4-3 ECACHL) could manage to pull out the victory as the teams grinded out a 1-1 tie at Starr Rink on Friday night.
Colgate was thoroughly outshot through the first two periods, 8-5 and 17-8 respectively, but came alive in the third when the team scored its only goal of the night and outshot the Golden Knights 12-11.
“In the first period we seemed to be feeling each other out,” reflected Vaughan.
He was pleased with his team’s display of “desperation” in the third period, adding that it seemed that his team found its legs as the game’s physical play began to increase midway through the second.
Of Clarkson’s play, Golden Knight coach George Roll said that his players put out another good effort but that they unfortunately could not score. “The effort was there, the chances were there, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” he said. “It’s very frustrating.”
Another important factor in the game’s outcome was goaltending. Squaring off on Friday night were the past two Ken Dryden award winners, Clarskson’s David Leggio, who won the award last year, and Colgate’s Mark Dekanich, who won it two years ago.
“These were two of the finest goaltenders in the country, not just the league, and they played big,” Vaughan commented, which was demonstrated by the big saves each made throughout the game and more particularly in the waning minutes against excellent scoring opportunities.
Neither team got on the board in the opening period, but each hit at least one post. After a string of power play opportunities, Clarkson finally managed to tally a goal off league scoring leader Steve Zalewski, his 13th of the season and third in as many games against Colgate.
Clarkson defenseman Nick Dodge received the puck at the right point and let go a blistering slap shot that was tipped wide of the goal. Zalewski had crept towards the goal and happened to be in the right place at the right time as the puck caromed off the backboards and out into the low slot. Zalewski had a wide open net to bury the rebound before Dekanich could recover.
Colgate did not respond until early in the third on a power play of its own. Colgate defenseman Kevin McNamara received the puck at the point and deliberately skated with it toward the goal looking for an opening. Finally, he took a shot that bounced off Leggio’s left leg pad, leaving a juicy rebound for Jesse Winchester, who was waiting in front of the net looking for scraps. Winchester roofed his 6th of the season and 100th point of his collegiate career.
In the last minutes, the teams exchanged chances to take the lead, but the goaltenders stood tall to keep the score tied. Clarkson managed a two-on-one shorthanded opportunity which had everyone searching for the puck, later discovered to be caught in Dekanich’s leg pad, mere centimeters from the goal line.
Colgate’s Tom Riley was left all alone in front of the goal with the puck and no one but the goaltender to beat, but Leggio squeezed his pads together and managed to hold in the rebound.
Though the shot count favored Colgate in the overtime period, Clarkson had the majority of offensive opportunities.
In their upcoming games, Clarkson plays Cornell tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. while Colgate hosts St. Lawrence at 7 p.m.