HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth showed a severe aversion to deficits in Friday night’s offense-happy contest against Yale, coming away with a 5-4 victory despite a relentless attack from the Bulldogs.
Yale’s only goal that went unanswered for more than two minutes was its last attempt to get back in the game, when Joe Zappala recorded his second point of the night with a wrister that Dartmouth goalie Nick Boucher couldn’t track down.
“When somebody scores a goal, it’s really important that you test them right off the bat,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said. “It’s something you want the guys to be conditioned to do. I thought it was great, we didn’t allow them a lot of momentum.”
Lee Stempniak did his work “down in the trenches,” according to Yale head coach Tim Taylor, scoring two goals in the first period to ignite the Big Green offense.
“Our inability to pin them down in the corners and control our end of the ice completely had something to do with their first two goals,” Taylor said.
Yale struck first, at 12:52 in the first. Dartmouth defenseman Brian Van Abel tried to carry the puck forward along the left boards rather than pass across to an open P.J. Martin. This left Martin all alone to defend a two-on-one Yale counterattack on which Joe Zappala took a shot that Boucher couldn’t handle leaving left-winger Nate Murphy to score on the mostly empty net.
Stempniak came back with a quality chance, but was hooked to the ice on his way to the net. On the ensuing power play, Stempniak put the puck in front for Mike Oulette and Hugh Jessiman, who were crashing the net.
The puck squeezed through goalie Peter Cohen, but not into the net. Stempniak, who wisely skated around the net, was wide open to gather the loose puck and finish the play and power play that he had created.
Stempniak’s first period garbage cleaning wasn’t over, however, as he took another rebound and fired it past Cohen from nearly the same spot as his first goal and Dartmouth took its first lead of the game, 2-1, into the first intermission.
Yale’s first-line center Chris Higgins came close to scoring when he rifled a slapshot that hit the crossbar and nearly deflected straight down into the net. Higgins and his first line, however, were kept off of the score sheet the whole way.
Boucher, who kept the Big Green in control in the first period with 14 saves, continued to shut down an exemplary Yale attack with 12 saves in the second.
Mike Murray drew a penalty from the Bulldogs’ Joe Callahan in front of the net, giving Dartmouth a brief two-man advantage. Yale refused to go down by two, however, killing off both the five-on-three and the ensuing one-man advantage.
The Bulldogs jumped right back into the game at 10:42, as Ryan Steeves snuck the puck between Boucher’s left pad and the left post on a wrap-around to make the score 2-2 at 10:42 in the second frame.
Eric Przepiorka didn’t let the home crowd worry too long, as he skated backwards with excellent control of the puck, finding enough room on the right side to wrist one home. Prezpiorka’s third goal of the season gave the Big Green a 3-2 lead.
Yale quickly made the third period interesting, as Christian Jensen ripped a shot past Boucher just 58 seconds in, but Dartmouth, with the resiliency that marked the match, came right back with the go-ahead goal 42 seconds later.
Jarret Sampson got a great feed from Chris Snizek and proceeded to skate behind the defense to notch his first collegiate goal.
“Snizek set me through, put a perfect pass on my tape and all I had to do was skate,” the first star of the game said of his first tally. “I was hooked up and trying to keep the puck ahead of me and I just snapped it short-side.”
The Big Green received its first gift of the night, as Jessiman threw the puck towards the net for Stempniak, but instead it was Yale defenseman Stacey Bauman who put the puck in the net, giving Boucher and the Big Green an unexpected two-goal cushion.
Zappala deflated that cushion at 12:48, bringing the Bulldogs within one.
Bauman’s blunder remained the difference between the two sides, as Boucher held the Bulldogs in check the rest of the way, totaling 32 saves.
“We were fortunate to come away with the win,” Gaudet said. “We got some big saves when we needed them, we got some timely goals, we got a couple of breaks and we got the win. I think we played okay tonight and I thought that Yale played very well.”
Dartmouth fans will break out the tennis balls for Saturday night’s game against a Princeton team that is coming off a 5-4 loss to Vermont, while Yale will likely take its frustrations out on the Catamounts.