HANOVER, N.H. — The RPI Engineers learned a valuable lesson tonight. Don’t make Dartmouth angry. You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry. It may not have been the Incredible Hulk, but there was something Big, Green, and furious on the Thompson Arena ice, and it rolled over Rensselaer for a 6-0 win that tied this ECAC quarterfinal series at one game apiece.
“We seem to play our best hockey when our backs are against the wall,” said Dartmouth goalkeeper Dan Yacey, who made 33 saves and recorded his second career shutout after getting his first two weeks ago against Brown. “Hopefully, we keep on playing with that sort of intensity.”
“It was pretty obvious,” RPI head coach Dan Fridgen of Dartmouth’s renewed energy. “We were expecting that. You’re talking about a team with their season on the line. That’s the way they played, and we certainly didn’t match their intensity.”
Dartmouth came out hot, holding the Engineers without a shot on goal for the first ten minutes of play. Dartmouth’s shots during that time were all stopped by the Engineers’ Nathan Marsters, but even Marsters was unable to stop the Big Green’s Jarrett Sampson in the game’s 12th minute.
Sampson — who was not on Dartmouth’s original line sheet — roofed a shot from the slot over Marsters and into the back of the net.
“It was a little bit shocking that I was playing,” Sampson said. “[Teammate Darcy] Marr went down – some kind of flu or something – so they called me at three o’clock and said to be ready to play. I was pretty excited to play, so I think just the excitement of playing got me pumped up, and helped me throughout the game.”
Dartmouth continued to pressure, and it paid off, as Lee Stempniak made it 2-0 on a wraparound shot that beat Marsters along the ice and found the far corner of the net.
The Dartmouth pressure didn’t stop, and when the period ended, Dartmouth had two goals, and the Engineers had four shots, all of which were saved by Dan Yacey.
“The first period was great,” said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet. “I thought we played with a lot of energy and a lot of intensity. They’re a good team, and they’ve got an excellent goaltender, but I thought we were on top of our game, and the two goals we got in the first period were crucial.”
In the second period, RPI picked up the intensity, outshooting Dartmouth 13-12, but the only shot that found the net came from Dartmouth’s Mike Ouellette, who redirected a Sean Offers blue-line shot into the back of the net for a 3-0 Big Green lead at the second intermission.
RPI came out fired up again in the third, outshooting Dartmouth 16-8 in the final frame, but once again, it was the Big Green turning on the red light. Eric Przepiorka beat Marsters high in the fifth minute of the period, and a high shot from Dan Shribman sent the Engineer keeper packing with 10:32 to go.
Andrew Martin made four saves in his relief appearance, but Mike Turner sent the puck past him with 1:32 left to close the scoring. Yacey, meanwhile, remained strong until the final buzzer, hanging on for Dartmouth’s first playoff shutout of RPI since 1980. The goalie who made 21 saves in that game? A junior netminder by the name of Bob Gaudet.
“The job’s halfway done,” Gaudet said. “We needed to get the win tonight, and I thought we played really well. We found a way to score goals tonight, and I thought we did a good job.”
With the win, Dartmouth forced a third game to decide who moves on to the ECAC semifinals at the Pepsi Arena in Albany.