PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Dartmouth put itself in great position to win the Ivy League Championship with a 3-0 win tonight at Brown. Junior goaltender Dan Yacey was the star, as he stopped all 32 shots he faced to help his team leapfrog the Bears for the top spot in the race for the Ivy crown.
Tomorrow night, Yacey and the Big Green will be in the Boston to face Harvard in the last game of the regular season. They will be champs with a win. If they should lose, Brown and Cornell, who play non-Ivy opponents tomorrow night, would share the title.
The Bears came in to tonight game needing just a win or a tie to clinch their first Ivy League title since 1995. Instead, Brown dropped its fourth game in a row and is now in a serious tailspin. They have been shutout in three of those last four heading in to the playoffs.
The 3-0 score hardly indicated how bitterly contested this game truly was. Brown and Dartmouth were very evenly matched, with Brown certainly having the upper hand in quality scoring chances and outshooting the Big Green 32-27.
Brown’s Yann Danis came out of a recent slump, as he made 24 saves and kept the score at 1-0 until the final minute. Dartmouth added two empty-netters in the last seconds to make it a 3-0 final.
In the second game of the season for both teams, Brown and Dartmouth played to an exciting 3-1 win for the Big Green at home in Hanover, N.H. Junior Lee Stempniak scored all three Dartmouth goals and Yacey stopped 23 of 24 Brown shots. Dartmouth was the only Ivy League opponent to top Brown in the regular season, and they did so twice — thanks mostly to the play of Yacey.
“He was in control tonight,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet about Yacey, who really stepped it up tonight at a key time. “He made some really key saves to keep us in front. And he really controlled his rebounds well. This was a strong game for him.”
With the win, Dartmouth moves in to a tie for second place in the ECAC standings with Cornell. The Big Green have clinched a first-round bye, while Brown now holds that final 4th position for a bye by just one point over Rensselaer.
The Bears really picked an awful time to hit the skids, but they played much better tonight than they did on last weekend’s road trip to the North Country. Danis was sharp, and Brown at times controlled much of the action but just could not find a way to beat Yacey or bury a second chance.
“I think our guys just need to put more bodies in front of the net,” Danis said about the team’s recent offensive struggles. “Sometimes, I think the opposing goalies get a good view of our shots. We need more traffic and shots to the net.”
The Bears came out with lots of momentum early, but were unable to get on the board in the first despite three Dartmouth penalties. Instead, it was junior forward Nathan Szymanski who got Dartmouth on the board late in the first with a freaky goal that turned out to be the game-winner.
During a delayed penalty call on Brown, freshman defenseman Grant Lewis fired a shot from the right boards. Szymanski, perched on the doorstep, redirected the hip-high shot behind Danis to make it 1-0.
Brown had golden chances to score throughout the first two periods. Yacey made a spectacular glove save in the first, and later the Bears had a wide-open net in front with a loose puck but no one could get a good stick on it. In the second, Yacey stuffed Brown’s Mike Meech on a two-on-one chance, while his counterpart Danis kept it interesting by stopping all 16 shots he faced, including several good ones on a late Dartmouth power play.
“I was proud of the way our guys competed tonight,” said Brown head coach Roger Grillo. “As far as quality chances go, we had more than enough to tie or win this game. It’s frustrating.”
Brown started the crucial third period on the power play but did not generate any sustained pressure. Brown’s power-play unit has struggled of late, having been kept off the board on all five chances tonight and all of last weekend.
Yacey had one puck slip under him early in the third and it appeared Brown would finally get that elusive goal to tie it up. But Yacey was calm and seemed under control, as he found the puck and covered it up. Brown outshot Dartmouth 13-1 in the first 19 minutes in the third. A few chaotic scrambles in front of Yacey were for naught, and just as soon as Grillo pulled Danis, Dartmouth captain Brian Van Abel picked up the puck just inside his own blue line. Van Abel fired a accurate shot in to the back of the net to deflate the Bears for his first goal of the year.
Moments later, Mike Ouellette made it 3-0 with a much easier gimmie shot from in close to seal the win.