HANOVER, N.H. — They weren’t all thinking about it. No one really spoke about it.
But Quinnipiac goaltender Jamie Holden admitted the thought crossed his mind after his 45-save effort propelled the Bobcats to a 2-1 upset win over No. 11 Dartmouth Saturday night before 3,608 at Thompson Arena. Let’s let the ECAC know what it’s getting in a new member next year.
“I know it was on my mind coming in,” Holden said. “You want to make a statement: You’re going into the league, you’re the new team, and it definitely looks good to beat one of their top teams.”
The most important message from the Bobcats (3-2): We can do a lot with a little. In its season opener, Dartmouth (0-1) produced 98 shot attempts to a paltry 17 for the visitors and held a 46-11 edge in shots on goal.
It was of no matter, not after Tom Watkins and Rob Hammel staked Quinnipiac to a 2-0 lead that only Garret Overlock’s late-game wrister answered.
“I would say Jamie stole the game for us tonight,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “We did a good job limiting their quality scoring chances, but still Jamie made so many saves on those power play chances. It seemed like they had 100 power plays.”
Dartmouth held a 13-3 edge in shots after one period, buoyed by a 7 1/2-minute stretch featuring 5 1/2 minutes of Big Green power-play time. Holden did his best work early in the onslaught, denying Dartmouth freshman David Jones’ slot bid and, later, a soft backhander from Overlock.
Watkins’ right-point wrister through traffic past Dartmouth goalie Dan Yacey (nine saves) at 11:06 of the second period — on just the fifth shot on goal for Quinnipiac — changed the complexion of the game.
With each Holden save (he added 11 more in the second period) and each failed Dartmouth attack, the sense of futility grew on the Big Green.
“There was certainly a level of frustration coming in for the second intermission,” admitted Dartmouth defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who pinged two posts behind Holden in the second. “We thought we were the better team. I still think we’re a better team.”
Hammel made the point moot at 12:28 of the third. A faceoff win to Yacey’s right by the Bobcats’ Ty Deinema hit teammate Joe Dumais and bounced to an uncovered Hammel in the low slot, and the senior scooped an ice-level shot through Yacey’s legs.
Overlock threaded a power-play wrister from 40 feet past Holden at 17:20, but that was all Dartmouth would have for its huge positional advantage.
Holden made two more quality stops in the final minute and change, getting the better of the Big Green’s Mike Ouellette and Lee Stempniak.
Quinnipiac had its message victory. Dartmouth had its questions to answer.
“We generated in each phase of the game,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “We killed penalties well. I thought our power play was excellent as far as moving and generating offense. They scored two; we scored one. It’s one of those things.”
Dartmouth is back in action Sunday night, hosting Connecticut in the first hockey meeting of the two schools.
— Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.