PRINCETON, N.J. — One futility streak had to end. Dartmouth, winner of one road game all season, traveled to New Jersey to face Princeton, winner of just one home game all year.
The Big Green now has two road wins.
Dartmouth blew a 2-0 lead in the second period, but snapped a 2-2 tie late in the third period and added a pair of empty-net goals to defeat Princeton 5-2 in front of 1,494 at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink.
“We are learning as a team,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet. “We finally got a road win tonight against a good Princeton team that played very hard and we found a way to win last Saturday night.
“As we showed tonight, we are not always consistent in doing the fundamentals, but we are making progress.”
In an up-and-down third period, with both teams receiving golden scoring opportunities, Big Green senior defenseman Trevor Byrne netted the winner at 14:59.
On a complete defensive breakdown by the Tigers, Dartmouth star rookie Hugh Jessiman had the puck in the corner and hit a wide-open Kent Gillings in front of the net. Gillings eschewed his opportunity to feed the equally open Byrne trailing the play, and he buried the puck into the open net.
“This is such a simple game,” Gaudet said. “We just tried to get the puck deep and our guys made some outstanding offensive plays. The play started with us attacking their net and then finding the trailer.”
Hitherto the Byrne tally, the goaltenders — Trevor Clay for Princeton and Nick Boucher for Dartmouth — had stolen the third-period show. Boucher robbed sophomore Mike Patton on a breakaway and Clay slid across the crease to deny Mike Ouellette opportunity with an apparent open goal. Dartmouth had followed Gaudet’s game plan and relentlessly attacked the net, forcing Clay to turn aside several rebounds as well as a tough initial shot.
Both netminders made 15 saves in the final frame.
“In the third period, we just didn’t have the physical or mental edge to score the equalizer,” said Princeton coach Len Quesnelle. “I thought Boucher was the difference maker for them.”
Dartmouth appeared unfazed on the ice after surrendering the two-goal lead.
“We have a lot of young players on our roster and sometimes we forget our fundamentals and either get too aggressive or not aggressive enough,” Gaudet said. “Our veterans, like Boucher, did a good job between periods to keep the players positive and we did not get down.
“Boucher made a lot of solid saves for us.”
As good as Boucher was in the third period, he almost was the difference for Princeton in the second. Dartmouth opened up a 2-0 lead with a goal in of the first two periods, but a pair of puckhandling errors by Boucher keyed a Tiger comeback.
Patton streaked down the right wing to chase down a puck that Boucher patiently came out of his goal to play. Boucher, however, hesitated and Patton took advantage, beating the goaltender to the puck and throwing it on goal where the trailer, leading scorer Chris Owen, could blast it into the empty net at 12:56.
The Tigers tied the score with just over a minute left in the second period. Boucher again misplayed the puck to keep a Princeton offensive possession alive. Off the cycle, Tiger freshman Patrick Neundorfer connected with classmate Dustin Sproat, who turned and had a clear path to the net. Boucher quickly went down to stop Sproat’s first attempt, but Sproat poked the rebound through at 18:53.
For the period, Princeton outshot Dartmouth, 17-6.
“I thought the second period was out best hockey by far,” said Princeton coach Len Quesnelle. “We were a little sluggish in the first, perhaps showing signs of our exam break, but in the second we picked it up.”
For the just the second time this season, and the first in 17 games, Princeton outshot an opponent. Moreover, the contest marked the first time a Tiger goaltender started two consecutive matches, with Clay earning another turn after stopping 44 of 45 in Princeton’s last game, a stunning 2-1 win at Harvard three weeks ago.
“It was frustrating to finally outshoot an opponent, but not be able to get the one goal,” Clay said. “I don’t want to make excuses, but it was tough coming off an exam break and we really played strong at times.
“We probably would have liked to have gotten right back on the ice the next weekend after the Harvard game.”
Princeton, like Harvard, has final exams after Christmas, requiring a January layoff instead of the normal December break.
Jarrett Sampson and Chris Snizek netted the first two Dartmouth goals, at 5:24 of the first period and 11:07 of the second, respectively.
Sampson’s goal was set up by a gorgeous between-the-legs backhanded pass by rookie of the year favorite Jessiman.
“Jessiman is just a super player,” Gaudet said. “It is amazing how quickly he has adjusted to the college game. Even on nights when he is just average, he still makes outstanding plays.”
Dartmouth wraps up its weekend against Yale, while the Tigers host Vermont in a rare afternoon game.