HANOVER, N.H. — Junior Eric Leroux earned his third career shutout by making 41 saves, helping Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky grab his first ECAC Hockey League win on Saturday night as the Tigers blanked Dartmouth, 3-0, in a contest marred by an apparent ankle injury to star Big Green forward Hugh Jessiman.
Jessiman, a first-round NHL draft pick of the New York Rangers last year, got his legs tangled with a Princeton skater near the Tigers’ bench on a Dartmouth power play at 8:58 of the first period. The junior hit the ice hard, holding his right ankle in obvious pain and silencing the Thompson Arena sellout crowd of 4,500.
Jessiman left the ice with the help of teammates David Jones and Grant Lewis and was sent to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet knew little of Jessiman’s condition after the game, but expected to have a clearer picture of his availability Sunday.
“He’s one of the top players in the country,” Gaudet said. “To see that kid writhing in pain on the ice, it’s emotional. There’s no question about it.
“We have a lot of young guys on our team. We’ve got a lot of guys who care about each other. It’s tough; that kid was in a hell of a lot of pain.”
Dustin Sproat’s unassisted goal at the five-minute mark of the second period proved to be the game-winner for Princeton (1-2-1 overall, 1-1 ECACHL). But the star of the night was Leroux, who made 33 of his stops over the final two periods for his and the Tigers’ first shutout since a 19-save, 3-0 win at Union on Dec. 5, 2003.
“I had great looks at the puck because our D were playing really well out front,” Leroux said. “The shots from the point were getting through cleanly and visibly, so there’s not much more a goalie can ask for in those situations.”
Sproat’s goal required little work on his part. Shadowing retreating Dartmouth forward Nathan Szymanski into the Big Green end, Sproat intercepted a blind Szymanski pass in the right-wing circle and wrapped the puck around the outstretched leg of Dartmouth netminder Dan Yacey (35 saves).
Slow to respond in the first period, Dartmouth (2-2 overall, 1-1 ECACHL) finally got the shooting gallery within minutes of Sproat’s strike. Jones had the Big Green’s best chance at 11:41 of the second, zinging a wrister that got through Leroux and kissed the right pipe before the Princeton netminder secured the rebound in the crease.
“If wasn’t for Leroux, going into the third period we could have been down by three or four and really had to climb out of a hole,” Gadowsky said. “As it was, he just made great save after great save, and gave us a chance to win.”
Princeton put the contest away with two deflected goals over a span of 2:14 in the late stages of the contest. Grant Goeckner-Zoeller banked a two-on-one crossing pass off a Dartmouth skate at 16:18, and Brian Carthas added a shorthanded empty-netter at 18:32, a right-point wrister that ticked off the glove of Big Green defenseman Garret Overlock.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.