HANOVER, N.H. — It set up to be a close game, but instead it was a trouncing at Thompson.
Dartmouth received seven goals from six different players, including the game-winner from junior Chris Taliercio just 87 seconds into the game, in a convincing 7-0 spanking of visiting Harvard on Friday night before 3,227 spectators at Thompson Arena.
Sophomore Nick Boucher returned to form for a stellar day in net against the typically formidable Crimson, stopping all 22 shots he faced.
Harvard was never in the game, suffering its first shutout since last March. Dartmouth, in the meantime, snapped a nine-game winless streak against the Crimson, dating back to March 1, 1996.
It was the first shutout for Boucher and the Big Green since a 2-0 blanking of Rensselaer on Jan. 7, 2000.
Dartmouth’s last whitewash of Ivy rival Harvard came on Feb. 21, 1923.
“I think I played in that game,” Big Green coach Bob Gaudet joked after the game. “That’s how I feel some nights.”
More seriously, he said: “I’m not a big history guy. I have a lot of history with Harvard, going back as a player, as a coach at Brown and as a coach here at Dartmouth. They’re a very, very good hockey team. They’re an excellent program.
“So is it good to win against Harvard? Yes, it is. We’d like to have a real strong rivalry with them.”
Every player on the ice for Dartmouth (10-10-2, 7-6-2 ECAC) was at least plus-1, and three players had at least three points.
Sophomore Trevor Byrne had three assists, Frank Nardella had a goal and three assists, and Taliercio had a team-leading two goals to go along with an assist.
In total, the Big Green had a perfect night, taking a 2-0 lead after the first period and a 4-0 advantage after the second before polishing off its largest margin of victory since a 8-1 thrashing of Air Force in December 1998.
Dartmouth finished the night 2-for-5 on the power play, and squashed each of Harvard’s four chances with the extra man.
With all the things that went right, what pleased Gaudet the most?
“I thought we played hard from start to finish,” he said. “I thought we had focus. That’s the important thing — to come out and play hard each and every shift. And I thought we did.”
In the first period, Dartmouth played one of its best 20-minute stretches of the season. The Big Green outshot the Crimson (10-11-1, 9-6-1 ECAC), 15-10, while claiming a 2-0 lead.
Just 87 seconds after the opening faceoff, Taliercio and Nardella gave Dartmouth a 1-0 advantage with a nice bang-bang play. Nardella, behind the net, slid the puck in front to Taliercio, who one-timed it over goaltender Oliver Jonas’ shoulder for his sixth goal of the season.
Late in the period, after a couple of unsuccessful power plays for each team, the Big Green upped its lead to 2-0 when forward Michael Byrne took a feed from brother Trevor Byrne and converted his third of the year.
The puck barely crossed the goal line — a Harvard player swiped it away, but not before the red lamp went on and the referee signaled a goal — but it was good for just the second Byrne-Byrne goal ever.
The Big Green stayed on fire in the middle frame, outshooting the visitors, 13-7.
Just 10 seconds in, junior Mike Maturo fired a pass to linemate Kent Gillings, who skated across the blue line and blasted a long slap shot into the back of the net. Gillings’ goal, his eighth of the year, increased Dartmouth’s lead to 3-0.
Once again, the teams traded unsuccessful power plays before Dartmouth tallied again late in the period. This time, Chris Baldwin added his name to the score sheet, securing a rebound before slapping his eighth of the season past Jonas (24 saves). Taliercio and Nardella both earned their second points of the night on the goal.
The third stanza was tame until the final minutes of regulation.
With just over three minutes remaining, the Big Green scored two goals in a 19-second span, as Taliercio tallied his second of the night before Jamie Herrington skated in on a breakaway and dumped his fifth of the season between new goaltender Will Crothers’ legs. Taliercio’s goal came on the power play.
Moments later, a fight broke out that resulted in six penalties (four for Harvard, two for Dartmouth), most notably a high-sticking minor and 10-minute misconduct for freshman Dave McCullough.
The penalties gave a Dartmouth power play, which the home team quickly converted for its seventh and final goal of the night, as Nardella wristed one past Crothers (13 saves).
For Harvard, it was the worst loss since a 11-3 drubbing at Cornell on Feb. 21, 1979. And for Dartmouth, it was a pretty emphatic way to earn revenge after dropping its first game against Harvard, 5-2, back on Nov. 11.
“We got the pucks to bounce our way, we got some key goals, we had some great stops, and we had a power play in the second period where [Boucher] was immense, because they got some chances man-down,” Gaudet said.
“The end result — those last few goals — it’s not that big a deal. I thought we worked hard. It gives us a split with Harvard, so I’m happy with the two points.”