HANOVER, N.H. — It’s time for Dartmouth freshmen David Jones and Nick Johnson to find shelf space for their first collegiate goals. Once someone delivers the pucks, that is.
Jones and Johnson, the headline players from the Big Green’s highly-regarded freshman class, both delivered their debut strikes Friday night as Dartmouth opened ECAC Hockey League play with a 5-2 win over Yale at Thompson Arena. Jones’ tally countered an early marker by the Bulldogs’ Christian Jensen, while Johnson’s debut goal joined a brilliant solo effort by senior Lee Stempniak to put the game away in the third period.
Grant Lewis and Garret Overlock also scored for Dartmouth (2-1-0, 1-0-0 ECACHL), which went 3-for-9 on the power play and held the Bulldogs (0-3-0, 0-1-0) scoreless on nine man-up situations.
“We’re just a really good skating team, and that’s the key to penalty killing,” Jones said. “Anyone can penalty kill as long as they work hard and skate and just sacrifice the body to block shots. That’s probably the reason we’re having so much success right now.”
Credit an offense that pounded 50 shots at Yale goaltender Josh Gartner one weekend after back-to-back 46-shot efforts against Quinnipiac and Connecticut.
“We’ve got some depth, so every line that goes out on the ice has the ability to do something offensively,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said.
It showed, but only after Jensen opened the scoring with an opportunistic goal just 83 seconds into the contest. Catching a dead puck against the frame of the Dartmouth net, Jensen swooped in to tuck an unassisted shot between the legs of Big Green goalie Sean Samuel (24 saves).
Jones got Dartmouth’s rally going by whipping a Tanner Glass right-corner feed over Gartner’s glove at 6:22. Lewis and Overlock then added power-play goals at 12:13 and 16:58, respectively, for a 3-1 lead after one.
“We’ve got a great work ethic, and I feel we’ve outworked every team we’ve played so far,” Jones said. “If we continue to play the way we’ve been playing and work hard, that’s pretty much all you can control.”
Six second-period minors put the Dartmouth attack in neutral. Blair Yaworski drew Yale back within a goal at 12:07, and Gartner kept the Bulldogs in the game by denying Dartmouth’s Eric Przepiorka on a penalty shot a half-minute later. Przepiorka drew the opportunity when Yale’s Matt Cohen dragged him down from behind on a breakaway.
“If we could keep the puck out of the hands of their forwards, maybe we could force some errors when they get in their own end,” Yale coach Tim Taylor said. “In the second period, we did that pretty well.”
It proved no matter for the Big Green, however. Johnson bagged his debut goal at 3:54 of the third, banging in the rebound of a Mike Ouellette wrister. Stempniak then capped the night with a highlight-reel strike at 10:55, beating a Yale defender on a solo rush from center ice and roofing Gartner at the right post.
“It was pretty relieving; definitely, I was thinking about it a lot,” said Johnson of his first collegiate marker. “I just told myself to just let it happen. And it eventually did.”
Dartmouth entertains Princeton tonight in ECACHL action, while Yale wraps its weekend at Vermont.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.