NEW HAVEN, Conn. — What was a breakout game for Dartmouth was just another breakdown for Yale.
With Hugh Jessiman, the highly-touted New York Ranger draft pick, scoring four goals and adding an assist, Dartmouth defeated the Bulldogs 9-4 at Ingalls Rink Friday. The Green were able to break one streak, of three consecutive ties, while maintaining another — no losses yet this season.
“I think you could see that we really badly wanted to win tonight,” said Jessiman over a sea of children seeking autographs. “We were really physical. I’ve tried to turn it on physically this season since I hadn’t been scoring early.”
Coming into the game, Jessiman, who hails from nearby Darien and had a huge fan base at Ingalls, had tallied just a goal and an assist. Friday, however, he exploded for five points which included a second-period natural hat trick.
“He’s been playing so hard all season, and it just hadn’t been going in,” said head coach Bob Gaudet. “I told him if he kept working it would.”
The same was true for the Dartmouth team as a whole. After tying three straight games, and scoring only four goals in the process, the Big Green saw most of the pucks they put on net find their way to the back. Their first goal, a slow slider from Grant Lewis on the power play which Yale goaltender Josh Gartner thought he had trapped in his pads, set the tone for a night where everything seemed to work out for the Green.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs suffered yet another devastating loss, despite putting up their most goals this season and earning three on the power play. After coming out strong and taking the 1-0 lead off a patient, accurate wrister from Joe Zappala, Yale seemed to deflate with Lewis’ score.
“When these goals start to go in the way they’re going in right now, it kills the team’s mentality,” Zappala said. “We definitely broke the ice with scoring today, but defense has been the thing that everyone has been preaching, and it’s killing us.”
Yale coach Tim Taylor offered a similar assessment.
“I thought there were a couple moments in the game when I could just feel us become deflated,” he said. “It was like someone took all the air out of our balloon.”
After the goals by Zappala and Lewis left the game deadlocked at 1-1 in the first period, Dartmouth stole the puck in the neutral zone just seconds into a Yale power play. Dartmouth’s Jason Costa’s initial shot on the resulting 2-on-1 was stopped by Gartner, but Mike Turner was there to pick up the rebound and score to give Dartmouth the 2-1 lead it would not relinquish.
The second period belonged to Dartmouth — and Jessiman, who scored his first goal of the game at 6:45 of the stanza and had already completed the hat trick by 15:15 to give Dartmouth the 5-1 advantage. Gartner was pulled in favor of Pete Cohen after giving up four goals.
Zappala earned his second of the game after Christian Jensen weaved through a number of Dartmouth players on the power play, bringing Yale within three with just under 30 seconds remaining in the second. But any hope for an Eli comeback was erased just two minutes into the third when Garret Overlock finished a setup from Jessiman and Sean Offers to give Dartmouth a 6-2 advantage.
The two teams traded goals for the remainder of the third period. Yale’s Jeff Hristovski gave Yale its third score of the night at 5:51 with a diving, unassisted goal, but once again the Big Green would not allow room for celebration. Less than a minute later, Lee Stempniak’s slapshot from the left point gave Dartmouth another four-goal lead.
At 8:25, Jeff Dwyer took a shot from the left point which was deflected by Nate Murphy past Dartmouth goaltender Dan Yacey for Yale’s fourth score, its highest total of the season.
But Jessiman responded in spectacular fashion with a rising shot from just inside the blueline that beat Cohen on the short side to bring the score to 8-4. Offers clinched the victory with less than three minutes remaining with another score, completing the nine-goal breakout by the Green.
Yacey finished with 24 saves, while Gartner recorded 14 and Cohen 22.
“This game could have been 4-3, or 5-4,” said Gaudet. “Sometimes you just have a game where the puck goes in and has eyes. We play Yale again up at our place, and it will probably be a 2-1 game. That’s the way it goes.”
But it seems the Elis have a long way to go before they’ll play in such a game.
“Everybody has to be accountable for themselves and their own jobs, and do their roles,” Zappala said. “If that happens, I can’t see us losing the way we’ve been losing.”
Dartmouth travels to Princeton tomorrow night for a 7 p.m. contest, while the Bulldogs host Vermont at 7 p.m. in New Haven, Conn.