HANOVER, N.H. — The boys in purple didn’t have a chance.
All but five Dartmouth skaters had at least a point as the Big Green steamrolled visiting Holy Cross, 9-1, Tuesday night in front of 2,705 at Thompson Arena.
Frank Nardella and Chris Baldwin each had four-point games, leading a slew of players with big nights. Nardella had four assists, while Baldwin had two goals and a pair of helpers.
Dartmouth (4-1-1, 3-1-1 ECAC) has now won three in a row and is unbeaten in its last five games.
“We have a record that we’ve achieved by being aggressive and getting after it,” head coach Bob Gaudet said. “We’ve worked really hard to beat good hockey teams. I like the way the team is progressing. I thought we had good play from everyone on the ice tonight.”
Nardella’s four-point game was his first since last Feb. 9, when he had a goal and three assists in a 7-0 rout of Harvard.
Baldwin, meanwhile, did good work around the net, scoring his first off a rebound and his second off a perfect Nardella pass through the crease to make it 4-0 early in the second. Baldwin’s four pointer was his first since a Dec. 27, 1998, game against Air Force.
“I definitely started getting going after Christmas last season, so it feels good to know that my line is playing well right now,” Baldwin said. “I was the recipient of a couple of great passes. Frank’s pass on my second goal was unreal. I didn’t even have to move.”
The Crusaders (5-3-2, 4-1-2 MAAC), who hail from the recently-minted Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, were overmatched from the outset.
But that was little surprise. Their head coach, Paul Pearl, knew this game would be a measuring stick for his team’s strengths and weaknesses at this point in the season.
“I think this game exposes the weaknesses that we can get away with in our league but not against a team like Dartmouth,” said Pearl, who was an assistant under Gaudet at Brown. “They are an excellent team. Basically, every mistake we made went into the net. It’s a good lesson to learn, but unfortunately we had to learn it the hard way.”
The Big Green was flying high after beating ECAC foes Yale and Princeton over the weekend, and showed no signs of fatigue despite playing its third game in four days.
The scoring began at the 1:59 mark with Baldwin’s first goal and resumed late in the opening period when Jamie Herrington flung a tough-angle shot into the top corner for the eventual game-winner.
In the middle frame, Dartmouth made it a laugher, netting five goals in a period for the first time since a 6-4 win over Brown on Jan. 3, 1997. Kent Gillings and Baldwin both scored in the first minute to up the lead to 4-0.
“The start of the second period was big for us,” Gaudet said. “We came out and, bang-bang, turned a 2-0 lead into 4-0 right away. That was the difference in the game.”
The next three were netted by defensemen. Trevor Byrne blasted in his second of the season from just inside the blueline at the 5:43 mark before Brian Van Abel potted his first of the year to give the Big Green a 6-0 advantage at the midpoint of the game. Byrne lit the lamp again with 32 ticks left in the period.
Dartmouth outscored Holy Cross, 2-1, in the third, as Gillings and Dan Casella sandwiched goals around the Crusaders’ only one of the night, a nice finish from Jonas Tomiuck off a 2-on-1 rush.
In total, eight Dartmouth players had multiple-point games, including three-point nights for Gillings and Byrne. Mike Maturo had two helpers to maintain his scorching pace of two points per game (6g, 6a in 12 games).
In the Big Green net, Nick Boucher earned the win, playing the first 29:50 and making 13 saves. Darren Gastrock was Boucher’s replacement, making nine saves in 31:10.
“We were very sharp tonight. There’s no question,” Gaudet said. “I think we’ve been playing really solid hockey. We have four lines, six defensemen and goaltenders who all work hard and work together. We’re a solid hockey team.”
The Big Green will play its fourth game in eight days on Saturday when UMass-Amherst of the Hockey East pays a visit.