HANOVER, N.H. — Two two-goal outbursts later, Yale is back in the thick of the ECAC playoff race.
The Bulldogs scored two goals 38 seconds apart in the second period, and another pair 1:56 apart in the third, en route to a 4-2 upset of Dartmouth in front of 3,965 at Thompson Arena.
Captain Luke Earl netted both of Yale’s third-period goals to snap a 2-2 deadlock.
The win lifted Yale (8-17-2, 7-11-2 ECAC) into a tie with St. Lawrence for 10th place in the league. The Bulldogs and Saints are one point behind Union and two behind Princeton.
When the regular season ends next Saturday, 10 teams will qualify for the postseason.
“I told the kids at the beginning of this week that we have to readjust our goals,” head coach Tim Taylor said. “We’ve gone from wanting home ice to wanting to sneak in. But we have to keep our eyes on that goal. I was very proud of the character we showed this weekend.”
The win completed a weekend of firsts for the Bulldogs.
Yale, which defeated Vermont, 4-2, Friday night, now has its first two-game winning streak of the year.
Also, the Bulldogs netted two power-play goals against Dartmouth a night after they netted two man-advantage goals in a game for the first time all season.
“Special teams was a positive factor for us this weekend,” Taylor said. “We’ve been killing penalties well all year long. I’m just so happy for our kids. We got the results that we wanted.”
The loss was a disappointing one for Dartmouth (12-10-5, 9-6-5), which failed to earn a win that would have sewn up the program’s first Ivy League title in 22 years.
“We got only one out of four points this weekend and we didn’t win the Ivy title,” senior Chris Taliercio said. “This is my last year trying to get one, and I would have liked to have a ring wrapped up by now.”
The home team’s disappointment after the game was dwarfed only by its outward anger about the officiating. Yale had seven power plays to Dartmouth’s four, and had four chances with the extra man in the first 12:21. The Bulldogs finished the game with two power-play goals.
Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet was livid at times during the game and had a lengthy discussion with head referee Peter Torgerson when it was over, but was more reserved when asked his opinion of the officiating.
“It was one step forward and two back tonight,” Gaudet said. “There are so many things in this game that are completely out of your control.
“They obviously benefited from [seven] power plays. We didn’t get those chances in our building. For whatever reason, we didn’t.”
Unlike his head coach, Taliercio did not mince words.
“I felt like it was a bunch of 25-year-old goons playing 15-year-olds, and every time we touched somebody, he called a penalty,” Taliercio said. “I think he is the worst ref in the league, and you can put that in any paper you want. He ruined a good game tonight.”
The Big Green spent 7:22 of the first 14:21 on the penalty kill, as Torgerson whistled the home team for the first four minor infractions of the game. Dartmouth killed all four of the Yale power plays, including a 38-second stretch in which the Bulldogs had a two-man advantage.
Midway through the second period, the fifth Yale power play proved to be the charm, as it ignited a two-goal outburst.
The visitors scored a pair of goals just 38 seconds apart, with Jeff Dwyer netting the first with the man advantage before left winger Mike Klema one-timed a pass from Ryan Steeves past Nick Boucher (21 saves) to make it 2-0.
Dartmouth got on the board at 14:42 of the middle frame, as rookie Lee Stempniak followed his own rebound and punched his 10th of the season between the pipes. The Big Green then knotted the score at 6:57 of the third when Kent Gillings, tied up with a defenseman in the slot, used his only free hand to slide the puck past Dan Lombard (38 saves).
But the 2-2 tie did not last for long, as Earl netted a pair to put the Bulldogs en route to the weekend sweep.
“I’m very happy for Luke,” Taylor said. “He works very, very hard. He’s been a great captain and the emotional leader of this team.”
Dartmouth, now tied with Clarkson and Harvard for second in the ECAC standings, will finish the regular season next weekend at St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
Yale will host Harvard and Brown as it looks to avoid becoming the first Bulldog squad since 1995-96 to miss the playoffs.