HANOVER, N.H. — By definition, it should have been a goal. And a pretty one at that.
On a second-period Dartmouth power play, Trevor Byrne passed the puck to fellow defenseman P.J. Martin, who winged it to Chris Snizek in the slot. Snizek roofed a quick shot, sending the goaltender’s water bottle into the air and apparently tying the game at two.
Right? Wrong. Although video replays later proved the contrary, referee John Melanson and goal judge Bob Parker both called it a no-goal, ruling that netminder Shawn Conschafter had made the save and his follow-through had rattled the water bottle.
The officials’ split-second call was incorrect, but that turn of events may have helped Dartmouth more than Snizek’s apparent goal could have. The Big Green looked inspired and assumed a refuse-to-lose mentality after the disappointing no-goal, scoring four unanswered and bunkering down on defense to beat rival Vermont, 5-2, Friday night in front of a packed house of 4,500 at Thompson Arena.
“I think that play got us fired up a bit,” Snizek said. “It got us mad. I think it got us going, it got our legs moving, it got the juices flowing. It got us fired up.”
Chris Baldwin potted the official game-tier for the Big Green (7-5-1, 4-2-1 ECAC) just 38 seconds after the controversial no-goal. Jamie Herrington scored five minutes later to give Dartmouth its first lead and Mike Maturo scored early in the third period to put the home team on the road to victory.
“Snizek may have had a goal, but unfortunately it didn’t count,” Herrington said. “Mel [Melanson] isn’t perfect. Nobody’s perfect. He couldn’t see it from where he was. Even I didn’t think it went in from where I was. But the key thing is that we kept going, we got a quick goal after that and we went from there.”
Last season, the Big Green went 11-5-4 after January 1, including 10-1-0 at home, as the team earned an appearance in the ECAC Final Five in Lake Placid.
For one night, at least, those post-New Year’s winning ways resumed, as Dartmouth successfully defended its home ice.
“This was a really gutsy win for our team,” said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet, whose team was without regulars Dan Casella (shoulder), Kent Gillings (food poisoning) and Pete Summerfelt, who missed the last two periods with a recurring foot injury. “We played well with some key guys out of the lineup, which speaks to our depth. It was a good win.”
For the Catamounts (2-11-2, 2-3-1), the loss extended their winless slide to four straight games. They have not won since they beat Dartmouth on December 1.
Conschafter, who always seems to play well against the Big Green, looked strong in the first period and then some, saving his team from some dicey situations.
But after the controversial no-goal, Dartmouth made the junior netminder — and the defense in front of him — look decidedly ordinary, keeping the struggling Catamounts near the bottom of the standings.
“This was good college hockey for two period,” said Vermont head coach Mike Gilligan. “In the third, they beat us to a lot of pucks and I think we reverted to our common mistakes.”
Gerard Miller gave Vermont a 1-0 lead late in the first period, lofting a shot from long-distance that deflected off Darren Gastrock’s blocker.
A Herrington redirection tied it a 1-1 early in the second stanza, but Scott Mifsud lit the lamp for the Catamounts just 19 seconds later to reclaim the lead for Vermont.
After Mifsud’s goal, the game slowly swung in Dartmouth’s favor, as the Big Green banded together after Snizek’s almost-goal.
“I thought his shot went in,” a candid Gilligan said after the game. “We could have been much worse off after the second period after two breakaways and a goal that looked like it was buried. I thought a break like that would get us going, but it didn’t.”
Indeed, Baldwin quickly tied the game at two with his fifth of the year, and then Herrington netted his second on a breakaway late in the frame to make it 3-2 Dartmouth.
Maturo’s team-leading eighth goal came on a backhander off a breakaway early in the third. Frank Nardella sent in an empty-netter in the last minute to set the final score.
Conschafter finished the game with 33 saves, while Gastrock earned the win with 30 stops.
Dartmouth is back on the ice Sunday afternoon against Maine at the Portland Civic Center, while Vermont will resume action next Friday at Cornell.