HANOVER, N.H. — In a familiar story, No. 8 New Hampshire found itself on the losing end against No. 3 Dartmouth despite holding a first-period lead, and the game was delayed in the final minutes with a player down on the ice. The same was true of the teams’ last meeting on Dec. 12.
Dartmouth freshman Caroline Ethier, stepping up onto the team’s third line, scored the first goal of her career to tie the game in the second period. Later, great individual efforts by Katie Weatherston and Louise Pietrangelo gave the Big Green (10-1-1) the lead for good, 3-1, over the Wildcats (7-7-2). Danielle Grundy added the empty netter at the end for a 4-1 final.
In the last UNH-Dartmouth meeting, Dartmouth’s leading scorer, Cherie Piper, was carried off the ice on a stretcher. Today, with 2:10 left, it was senior Debbie Bernhard who slipped into the boards head first. The moments were eerily similar.
“It was terrible — the way she went in I could tell she was going in head-first,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak. “You close your eyes and god hope she’s OK.”
UNH coach Brian McCloskey said he could tell the injury was not as bad as it looked when he talked to Bernhard and found that she was still talking. The stretcher was brought out for Bernhard, but she was able to leave the ice on her own after the unfortunate incident.
“Truthfully, there were a lot more dangerous physical plays in this game than that,” McCloskey said.
Everyone in the stands hoped Bernhard will have a better fate than Piper, who has still not dressed since suffering the concussion in the last meeting. Hudak said Piper was still having exercise-induced symptoms, and that she would see a doctor on Monday.
Dartmouth didn’t know Piper would be out until the week prior to the game, and other players were out due to illness, so it was no surprise that the Big Green struggled in the first period with all the lineup adjustments, getting outshot 15-5. It took Dartmouth a full period for everyone to adjust to their new roles. The Big Green outshot UNH 16-7 in the second period.
“It was sloppy, and we were pretty undisciplined,” Hudak said. “At the same time the speed was there and the tempo was there, it was just getting back into the systems and principles we worked on.”
Freshman Caroline Ethier finally got Dartmouth on the board at the 7:19 mark. In transition, she snuck behind the defense and received a pass at the crease from Danielle Grundy at the opposite point. Co-captain Lydia Wheatley filled Piper’s centering role on the first line while Ethier filled her vacated role on the third line.
Weatherston’s spectacular stick-handling efforts gave Dartmouth a 2-1 lead at the 15:23 mark. Taking the puck from Megan Walton, Weatherston went one-on-one with a UNH defender in the high slot, made a quick deke to get a clear to the right, and powered the puck into the opposite corner for the spectacular finish. Dartmouth had been beating defenders with such moves all night.
It was a moment of redemption for Weatherston and Walton, who had failed to connect on a 2-on-0 opportunity when catching UNH in a change earlier in the day.
“Truthfully it’s not so much that we’re giving them these advantages,” McCloskey said. “The scariest never materialized. They made things happen or we made a defensive mistake. On the second goal the girl backed into the crease, we work on that.”
Pietrangelo all but iced the game four minutes into the third period on the power play when she circled around the top of the zone with momentum, fired a shot through the five-hole of UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon.
“I just wanted to get the puck on net hoping for a rebound and it slipped between her legs,” Pietrangelo said.
McCloskey thought Bourdon played a solid game overall, however. She stopped 25 of 28 shots she faced.
New Hampshire scored the game’s first goal with 2:12 to go in the first period when Carolyn Gordon set up Stephanie Jones on the breakaway. Dartmouth defenseman Alana BreMillar caught up to Jones and forced her down to her left, but as Jones fell she was able to the lift the puck into the far side corner and the 1-0 lead.
UNH outshot Dartmouth 15-5 in the first period thanks largely to three power plays. Lesley Reiart’s second penalty of the day and the team-leading 17th of the season for Pietrangelo led to a UNH two-man advantage for over a minute, but Dartmouth was well prepared from the Wildcats’ power play. Big Green co-captain Sarah Clark blocked a shot from UNH’s Allison Edgar and Weatherston retrieved a Kristen Thomas shot from the point and carried it out of the zone to kill off the first penalty. UNH finished 0-for-7 on the power play for the game.
UNH will look to rebound at Niagara and Mercyhurst next weekend.
“I’m not discouraged,” McCloskey said. “We’re a .500 club now, but we’re still going to win our share of hockey games.”