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Woes Continue for Big Green: Dartmouth Remains Winless After Losing Senior to Injury

  • Dartmouth College goaltender Charles Grant watches Clarkson's Patrick Magannety during Friday's ECAC game between the teams at Thompson Arena. The Golden Knights won, 3-2, dropping the Big Green to 0-5 this season. Valley News - Tris Wykes

    Dartmouth College goaltender Charles Grant watches Clarkson's Patrick Magannety during Friday's ECAC game between the teams at Thompson Arena. The Golden Knights won, 3-2, dropping the Big Green to 0-5 this season. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College forward Connor Dempsey (10) pressures Clarkson's James de Hass on the forecheck Friday at Thompson Arena. The Golden Knights won the ECAC contest, 3-2, and dropped the Big Green to 0-5 this season. Valley News - Tris Wykes

    Dartmouth College forward Connor Dempsey (10) pressures Clarkson's James de Hass on the forecheck Friday at Thompson Arena. The Golden Knights won the ECAC contest, 3-2, and dropped the Big Green to 0-5 this season. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College goaltender Charles Grant watches Clarkson's Patrick Magannety during Friday's ECAC game between the teams at Thompson Arena. The Golden Knights won, 3-2, dropping the Big Green to 0-5 this season. Valley News - Tris Wykes
  • Dartmouth College forward Connor Dempsey (10) pressures Clarkson's James de Hass on the forecheck Friday at Thompson Arena. The Golden Knights won the ECAC contest, 3-2, and dropped the Big Green to 0-5 this season. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Hanover — Things will get better for the Dartmouth College men’s hockey team. At the moment, however, they couldn’t get much worse.

The Big Green not only lost again Friday, this time 3-2 to visiting Clarkson, but its players learned Thursday that senior forward Eric Robinson is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Now 0-5 overall, 0-3 in the ECAC and missing one of its presumed offensive leaders, Dartmouth can do nothing more than keep working hard in hopes the campaign isn’t ruined before Christmas.

“We’ve been dealt some bad blows,” said coach Bob Gaudet, whose team unexpectedly lost junior forward Matt Lindblad to the Boston Bruins organization after last season. “We lost a 45-point guy to the Providence (R.I.) Bruins and we’ve lost the guy who was our Cam Neely.

“But there is no excuse and I feel that when it’s all said and done, this is going to be a team to be reckoned with. We’re going to be battle-tested and hardened.”

For now, Dartmouth is left with only one senior who skates regularly — defenseman Taylor Boldt. Goaltender Cab Morris has been inconsistent in his career and defenseman Nick Lovejoy has played in only 17 college games.

Clarkson took a 2-0 lead in the first 16 minutes, doing so on seven shots. The first marker came in the 10th minute and out of a goalmouth scramble. The second occurred six minutes later when the Big Green watched an opponent slide a backhand pass from just behind the right post and into an unattended slot, from where Matt Zarbo fired the puck home.

Unlike last weekend, when Dartmouth was outscored 14-3 during home losses to Union and Rensselaer, the Big Green at least rallied this time.

Freshman Grant Opperman notched his first college goal midway through the second period after classmate and defenseman Josh Hartley pulled the puck out of a crowd in front. With Clarkson goaltender Greg Lewis down on his stomach, Opperman fired the rubber into the net off the arm of a Golden Knights defender standing on the goal line.

The Big Green forged a 2-2 tie a minute later after Eric Neiley flipped in the rebound of a Tyler Sikura shot.

“I was just standing behind the goal line and when the puck landed in front of the goalie, he came out of his crease a bit,” said Neiley, who has four of his team’s 10 goals this season. “I swooped in to get the puck and I made one little move to get him to open up his (legs) and I slid it through.”

A sparse crowd announced at 2,083 was just working its way into sustained excitement when No. 15 Clarkson (8-2-1, 2-1) scored the winning goal off a faceoff two minutes later. Ben Sexton’s shot from the left point sailed past goaltender Charles Grant at the near post.

Dartmouth went from a 16-9 shot advantage in the second period to a 14-3 shot deficit during the final stanza. The Big Green has been outscored 25-10 thus far, but Neiley said he and his teammates at least made progress against Clarkson by putting up stiff resistance.

“Tonight was night-and-day compared to last weekend,” said Neiley, whose team hosts St. Lawrence (5-2-2, 1-0-2) tonight before visiting Princeton and Quinnipiac next weekend. “One play and it could have gone our way, whereas last weekend we fell behind early and couldn’t come back.

“We responded the right way, even if getting over the hump and getting the win is still a work in progress.”

Said Gaudet: “The silver lining is that we have guys who are being thrust into adversity who are going to learn perseverance and how to stay together.

“I know we can beat anybody, but our goal is to get better and we got better tonight.”

Notes: Dartmouth has yet to hold a lead this season and has trailed 80 percent of the time. … Clarkson leads the teams’ series 68-25-7. … The Golden Knights are off to their best start since 1991-92 and are ranked for the first time in five years, despite being picked to finish last in the 12-team ECAC by both the conference coaches and media during preseason polls. … Word around Thompson is that Lindblad received a $92,500 signing bonus last spring and will receive the same amount in roughly six months. … St. Lawrence’s roster includes Hanover High graduate Patrick Doherty, Canaan native Gavin Bayreuther and Dartmouth transfer Brian Ward. The latter left midway through the 2011-12 season to return to junior hockey and sat out last season before joining the Saints for the current campaign. … The Golden Knights continue to wear No. 89 decals on their helmets in honor of former player Bryan Rufenach, who died at age 23 last year when he touched a live electrical wire while backpacking in Switzerland. The Detroit Red Wings prospect had climbed on top of a stationary train carriage late at night.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.