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Clarkson Edges Big Green in Hard-Fought League Game, 3-2

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By John and Matt Risley

HANOVER, N.H.  – Freshman Grant Opperman scored his first career goal and junior Eric Neiley netted his fourth of the year, but the Dartmouth men’s hockey team fell, 3-2, Friday night to Clarkson at Thompson Arena.

The loss dropped the Big Green to 0-5 on the season and 0-3 in ECAC Hockey play, while the Golden Knights improved to 8-2-1 overall and 2-1-0 in conference games with the one-goal win.

After falling behind by a pair of Clarkson tallies in the first period, Dartmouth answered back with two in the middle frame.

Opperman found the puck in a scrum at the side of the net and banked a shot in off the right arm of a defenseman trying to hold the post. For Opperman, it was his first collegiate goal and came thanks in part to fellow freshman Josh Hartley who pushed the puck to his classmate under the legs of another sprawling defenseman.

That goal came with one second left on the first penalty of a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity for the Big Green. A similar fate would fall on the stick of Neiley 1:11 later, netting his fourth marker in five games with one second remaining on the second man-advantage.

Neiley got help from center Tyler Sikura who started the play by bringing the puck from behind the goal line out to the side of the net. After the initial shot was kicked aside, the team’s leading scorer was on the spot for the rebound, which he dragged around the outstretched reach of Clarkson goaltender Greg Lewis and slid into the back of the net for the equalizer at with 7:29 left on the clock.

That deadlock lasted just 1:58 of game time as Ben Sexton found space in a crowd from the top of the left circle off the faceoff to once again give the visitors a one-goal lead on a perfectly placed wrist shot.

It was one of the few shots that beat Big Green goalie Charles Grant all night as the sophomore put together the best goaltending effort of the season, making 29 saves in the process.

Dartmouth’s penalty killers were successful on four of the five chances Clarkson had in the contest, with the Sexton game winner the only power-play tally of the night for the Golden Knights.

The Big Green held a 16-9 advantage in shots in the middle period as it mounted a comeback, but were unable to get the tying goal in the third as the Clarkson defense clamped down and held a 14-3 edge in the final stanza.

Dartmouth returns to action Saturday against St. Lawrence at home at 7 p.m.