HANOVER, N.H. — Any poker player will tell you as much: The cards aren’t always going to fall your way.
Given Kris Mayotte’s mastery of Dartmouth over his two-plus seasons in the Union goal, it follows that the Big Green would find a way to solve the junior some day. Dartmouth did Friday night, continuing its second-half ECAC Hockey League surge with a 5-1 win over the Dutchmen before 3,875 at Thompson Arena.
The Big Green (10-8-2 overall, 7-6-0 league) put 41 shots on Mayotte and, most importantly for Dartmouth’s confidence, solved the junior stopper less than three minutes into the game. Three Big Green skaters — Mike Ouellette, Lee Stempniak and Garret Overlock — finished with one-goal, one-assist nights, while two others — Nick Johnson and Grant Lewis — threw out a pair of helpers each.
“That first goal was key for us tonight,” Ouellette said. “We wanted to come out strong and really take it to them, not give them a chance to drag the game on with tight checking and no chances.”
Dartmouth held the better hand from the start, taking the play to Union and scoring on a strange opportunity at the 2:21 mark of the first period. A Johnson dump to Mayotte’s right struck the corner boards and somehow bounced past two Dutchmen defenders right to Ouellette, who blasted a one-timer that Mayotte had little chance of stopping.
“It was huge,” Ouellette said. “It’s been a while since we scored on him, and it was just a big momentum booster for us.”
Aside from the goal allowed, Union (10-15-1 overall, 7-8-0 league) had a few good chances to tie the game. Jordan Webb had the best just two minutes after Ouellette’s goal, slipping through two defenders only to have Dartmouth goaltender Dan Yacey (29 saves) deny him at the doorstep.
But the Dutchmen — a 15.9 percent unit on the power play — did nothing with three man-up opportunities early in the second period. Dartmouth extended the lead with its man-advantage crew on Overlock’s left-point blast at 11:15, then added another goal on a three-on-one J.T. Wyman finish just 35 seconds later.
“They put five up against us, but they’ve put nine up against a couple of teams,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “We knew coming in that if you don’t take care of the details defensively, they can put ‘em away on you.”
Webb got one back at 13:00 on a nifty maneuver by linemate Jonathan Poirier, who deked around Dartmouth freshman blueliner Will Boardman before feeding Webb’s wide-open one-timer.
Dartmouth upped the ante in the third period. Nathan Szymanski snaked a shot past Mayotte (36 saves) at 6:39 on a Dan Shribman feed, and Stempniak snuck one through Mayotte’s pads at 8:39 out of a broken play to the goalie’s left.
The win and St. Lawrence’s loss to league-leading Colgate put Dartmouth, Union and the Saints in a three-way tie for fifth in the league. The Big Green and Dutchmen are going in opposite directions, however — Dartmouth is 6-2-1 in its last nine, while Union has lost eight of its last nine league games after a 6-0-0 start.
Dartmouth hosts Rensselaer Saturday, while Union searches for a better hand at Vermont.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.