HANOVER, N.H. — Even with a little rust from winter break, No. 2 Dartmouth still did eight goals better than Providence.
The Big Green (12-1-0) overwhelmed the Friars (8-5-3) en route to a 10-2 victory in Thompson Arena on Sunday afternoon. Led by junior forward Cherie Piper, who had four goals and an assist, Dartmouth jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a few soft goals, chased starting goalie Amy Thomas, and never looked back.
“It’s always tough to play from behind,” said Providence coach Bob Deraney, whose team had been off since Dec. 4. “The first goal was a gift and that’s the last thing we want to do. They’re free willing and hard playing, and you can’t give them any gifts.”
The Big Green extended its lead to 5-1 after two periods on goals by Piper and classmate Katie Weatherston.
“It’s a great way to get back into the swing of things,” said Weatherston, who maintained her national lead in goals per game with two today. “We had five days before this game to gel as a team again after the break, and we just have to keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”
Dartmouth outshot Providence 51-23 in the contest and reached double digits in scoring for the first time this season. Junior Kate Lane made 21 saves for the Big Green. Thomas and backup goalie Lauren Florio combined for 41 stops.
“We got stronger as the game went on,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak. “I think the rust was out there for both teams after being off for a while. The first couple of goals weren’t very pretty. Our timing was back halfway through the game. Lane made some great saves, the defense blocked out, and the offense went to the net. That made for a great third period.”
With the win, the Big Green will visit No. 6 New Hampshire on Wednesday for its last nonconference matchup of the season before beginning a string of 14 consecutive ECACHL contests. Dartmouth’s nonconference slate was highlighted by last December’s split with Minnesota, who beat the Big Green in overtime in the last meeting.
“It’s a great sign to bounce back and start fresh in the New Year after that heartbreaking loss to Minnesota,” Piper said. “With a lot of conference and Ivy games coming up, we have to be mentally prepared.”
Providence next travels to Mercyhurst on Jan. 8. It will be the Friars’ first nonconference game against an opponent outside of the ECACHL. The Friars are 4-5-3 in those games, but they hold a perfect 4-0-0 record in Hockey East play.
“We try to play the hardest schedule possible,” Deraney said. “With the end of the season tournament having eight teams, you try to learn something by playing against great teams, and Dartmouth is a championship contender.”