The magic of Starr Rink just won’t rub off. For the second time in as many weeks, Colgate thrilled its home fans with an overtime victory, as the Raiders fended off Dartmouth 2-1 on Saturday night.
After blocking a Big Green (12-10-1, 8-8-0 ECAC) shot, Colgate (11-14-3, 6-8-2) assistant captain Brad D’Arco sprang fellow senior P.J. Yedon on a breakaway in the other direction. Yedon waited Dartmouth goalie Nick Boucher out and then went to his backhand, sending the puck into the net just moments before crashing into it himself. The goal came with just 24 seconds remaining in the contest, and secured a weekend sweep for the Raiders.
“I really thought tonight that [Yedon] stepped his game up in the third period,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “He deserved to get the game winner. He was winning faceoffs for us, playing strong defensively, and he made a great move on the goal. So I’m really happy for him, because he’s been snakebitten all year.”
The victory comes just a week after Colgate stole another game in overtime at home, that time against Cornell. The Raiders’ victory marked their third straight at home and vaulted them to sole possession of eighth place in the ECAC.
“This home sweep was very important if we want to play at home in the first round of the playoffs,” said Vaughan. “We know we have a lot of work to do. But I think we took a big step this weekend in getting the four points. It’s about us now, and we can control our fate if we just keep working hard.”
Colgate worked hard throughout the game, and led for the majority of it. Defenseman Rob Brown fired a slapshot past the left pad of Boucher early in the second period to provide the Raiders with a 1-0 lead that they refused to relinquish. Goaltender Steve Silverthorn made 35 saves while holding the Big Green off the board.
“[Silverthorn] played great again tonight,” said Vaughan. “He’s on top of his game. He’s in the right spots and making a lot of saves look easy, and when your goalie’s on, that’s the way it should be.”
Dartmouth finally dented the net late in the third period on the power play. Jarrett Sampson beautifully redirected a Lee Stempniak centering feed between the legs of Silverthorn to even things up with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation.
With images of last year’s playoff series — in which Dartmouth overcame a deficit late to defeat Colgate — flashing through Vaughan’s head, the coach called a timeout to rally his troops.
“The most important part tonight,” he said, “was that after Dartmouth scored their goal, our bench was the best it has ever been. Our older guys took charge of the bench and calmed everybody down. After that point we outplayed them.”
The 1-1 score at the end of 60 minutes reflected the play of both teams throughout the night.
“I thought both teams worked very hard,” said Vaughan. “It was pretty evenly balanced, and the score indicates that, obviously. But I really felt our guys turned it up in overtime. We had some great chances even before the one that went in. I’m just real proud of the way we responded. We needed these points at home, and we were able to go out and do it.”
Colgate unloaded six shots on Boucher in the overtime frame, while the only shot attempted by the visitors was blocked and led to the game-winning tally. Boucher, Dartmouth’s newly-crowned all-time wins leader, stopped 27 in the losing effort.
In losing, Dartmouth stretched its poor road record to 3-8-1, and fell into seventh place in the ECAC, only two points ahead of the Raiders. Head coach Bob Gaudet was unavailable for comment following the game.
The Big Green return to friendly ice next week to take on St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Dartmouth has been impressive at home, and hopes to continue this streak.
Colgate, meanwhile, must face its demons next weekend as it travels to Harvard and Brown. In two games against the Crimson this year, the Raiders have been outscored 15-2.