HANOVER, N.H. — Jamie Herrington did it again.
A night after tanking Cornell with a goal in overtime, Herrington completed yet another Dartmouth comeback, firing in the game winner with just 15 seconds left to lift the Big Green to a 4-3 win over Colgate on Saturday night in front of 3,488 fans at Thompson Arena.
“The boys are pretty pumped,” Herrington said. “After that last goal, it’s just a great feeling to hear the crowd erupt and know that there are only 15 seconds left. The goal buried them.”
Dartmouth has made a habit of winning games the hard way. This time, Colgate took a 3-2 lead with 3:58 left when Darryl McKinnon lit the lamp.
But the Raider lead didn’t stand up for long, as freshman Lee Stempniak netted his second of the night with 1:46 left to make it 3-3.
With the crowd roaring, the veteran Herrington put the finishing touches on the Big Green comeback, collecting a pinpoint pass from defenseman Trevor Byrne before sending his second of the evening past goalie David Cann.
With the win, Dartmouth (12-9-4, 9-5-4 ECAC) clinched a playoff spot and gained sole possession of second place in the ECAC standings with four games left in the regular season.
“This is awesome,” said head coach Bob Gaudet. “This weekend, we had two games with unbelievable endings. That’s pretty good entertainment for people.”
Gaudet said that while he knew his team still had a chance when Colgate (12-14-2, 9-7-2) went up 3-2, he knew time was running out.
“There was time left, but we knew it was urgent,” he said. “With just a few smart clears by them, the game would have fluttered away. But I thought we played great hockey. We won draws and created our chances. The guys found a way.”
Asked about his team’s victory-turned-defeat, Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said: “It stings a lot. We played such a good game. To have to lose that way hurts. It’s a credit to Dartmouth. They stuck with it.”
Vaughan’s squad, which slipped into fifth place — but only two points out of second — was playing without leading scorer P.J. Yedon, who suffered a bruised left quadriceps muscle in Colgate’s 5-3 win over Vermont Friday night.
Yedon is expected to return to the lineup next weekend.
“I don’t if it would have made a difference in the score at the end of the night,” Vaughan said, “but what P.J. does for us, other than get points, is that he’s a great faceoff guy for us. I thought Herrington owned us all night on the faceoffs.”
Despite Yedon’s absence, the youthful Raiders looked to have the recipe to take down the older, more experienced Big Green for a second time this season.
But the linemates Herrington and Stempniak had something to say about that.
Teaming with rookie Joe Gaul in the first two periods and senior Chris Baldwin in the third, the duo helped form a line that combined for all four goals.
For the second straight night, the Stempniak-Herrington-Baldwin combination netted the game-winner.
“It’s not something that I thought we’d go with for an entire game,” Gaudet said of the game-winning trio. “But that’s a pretty good line. It’s a line that combines a lot of skill, scoring and speed. We’ll have to decide if we use it for an entire game.”
The teams emerged from a highly offensive first period in a 1-1 tie.
Herrington gave the Big Green a 1-0 lead, taking a feed from Baldwin before blasting in a laser shot past Cann (38 saves). Herrington’s goal came on the power play.
Late in the period, the Raiders took advantage of a favorable rebound off a blocked Dartmouth shot to even the score. After a Gaul attempt, the puck kicked out into the neutral zone, where Brad D’Arco tipped it to Kyle Doyle, who broke free and put his eighth of the year past the stick-side reach of goalie Nick Boucher (36 saves).
Colgate outshot Dartmouth, 17-13, in the opening period.
The teams again traded goals in the middle frame.
This time, Colgate scored first, as junior Scooter Smith made an attempt from just inside the blueline that caromed off Boucher’s stick and went in. Paul Kelley and Rob Brown earned assists.
The Raiders seemed to control the tempo during much of the second, getting several good looks at the net, but the Big Green made it a 2-2 game late in the period when Stempniak tapped in a rebound off a Pete Summerfelt shot. Summerfelt’s assist on the play was one of three that he earned on the night.
“We were back on our heels in the first six or seven minutes of the second period,” Gaudet said. “After that, I thought we played well. We generated some things. I think the goal was coming for a few shifts. Stemper did a good job to put it in.”
Riding this weekend sweep, Dartmouth will continue its homestand next weekend when Princeton and Yale pay a visit. A split will guarantee the Big Green a share of the Ivy League championship.
Colgate returns home to host Clarkson and St. Lawrence.