MANCHESTER, N.H. — After the 15th goal of the night — the seventh by a Dartmouth body — was fished out of his net, New Hampshire goaltender Jeff Pietrasiak went to his bench for a new stick.
Neither UNH stick nor glove nor pad nor defenseman would get in the way of a wild Big Green comeback on Wednesday night, as Dartmouth (7-7-2) erased a three-goal third-period deficit for a 9-8 win over the No. 6 Wildcats (14-5-2) in the fourth “Battle of the Riverstone” at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Junior Jarrett Sampson had three goals and an assist for Dartmouth, and senior Mike Ouellette scored once and set up three, the last on the play that led to Nick Johnson’s game-winner for the Big Green with 1:27 left in regulation.
“It was just goal after goal,” Sampson said. “You never knew who would score next.”
Dartmouth did — four straight times — after an ill-advised crosschecking minor by New Hampshire’s Shawn Vinz at the 10:23 mark of the third period. Having been roughed up by Dartmouth’s Garret Overlock in the Big Green end without a call from referee Alex Dell, Vinz slammed Dartmouth’s Dan Shribman in front of one of Dell’s linesmen at center ice, and it all went to heck for UNH from there.
Sean Offers blasted a center-point drive over Pietrasiak’s glove 22 seconds after Vinz got the gate to cut the deficit to 8-6. Sampson completed his first career hat trick by tipping an Eric Przepiorka centering pass behind the UNH netminder at 12:00.
Pietrasiak’s new piece of ash did him no favors at 17:12, as freshman David Jones banked a rebound of a Nathan Szymanski drive off the goalie’s stick from the extreme right side. And Johnson capped the rally at 18:33, left all alone in front of Pietrasiak for the backhand conversion of a Lee Stempniak feed.
“Defensively, it’s as bad as I’ve ever seen,” New Hampshire coach Dick Umile said. “It’s a real disappointment to our program.”
Freshman Mike Devine, seeing his first Dartmouth action, picked up the win with five saves over the final 34:32 of the game. The Big Green outshot UNH by a whopping 40-23 margin, but New Hampshire ended up chasing two Dartmouth goalies before the night was done.
Jacob Micflikier and Brian Yandle ended Dartmouth starter Dan Yacey’s night with goals in the first 7:42 of the game. The Big Green managed to stay within 4-3 at the first intermission, but Tyson Teplitsky and Sean Collins gave relief netminder Sean Samuel the rest of the evening off with goals in the first 5:34 of the second period.
Yandle then greeted Devine with a mid-slot blast at 8:19 for a 7-3 lead for his second goal of the night.
“We were playing well; it’s not like we’ve been in games where we’ve been beaten or outplayed, and it certainly wasn’t the case today,” Stempniak said. “Everyone sensed that and knew that we were getting chances and scoring some goals. … I think we just knew if we kept plugging away, we’d get the win.”
Dartmouth, which had been struggling on offense most of the season, has now posted nine-goal efforts in two of its last three contests. The Big Green visits No. 13 Vermont on Saturday to kick off its final 13-game run of conference action.
The Wildcats wrap their nonleague schedule against Yale on Saturday — and hope their Riverstone defense doesn’t follow along.
“If it’s a pattern,” Umile said, “we won’t be around for very long, I’ll tell you that.”
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.