HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet hit a major milestone Friday night — or, more accurately, it hit him.
A run of five unanswered goals, including four in the third period, helped the Big Green elude a first-period deficit and take a 6-2 ECAC Hockey League win over St. Lawrence at Thompson Arena.
The victory was Gaudet’s 200th of his 17-year coaching career, which included a nine-year run at Brown to go with a 107-107-32 stretch at Dartmouth, his alma mater. Neither he nor his players — who moved into a fourth-place tie with Vermont in the ECACHL — saw the achievement coming.
“After my first year of coaching (1-25-0 at Brown in 1988-89), I thought it was going to take me 200 years, quite honestly,” said Gaudet. “It’s nice. I wasn’t aware of it.”
A couple of other milestones helped tilt the result toward Dartmouth (13-9-2 overall, 10-7-0 ECACHL).
Sophomore defenseman Mike Hartwick scored the game-winner at 2:47 of the third, breaking a 2-2 tie when his left-point wrister hit the stick of St. Lawrence goaltender Justin Pesony (35 saves) and slipped through the freshman’s pads.
“It think Sniz (senior Chris Snizek) coming across had a lot to do with it, might have distracted the goalie,” said Hartwick of Snizek, who retrieved the souvenir for Hartwick afterward. “He’s a good teammate.”
Sean Offers’ breakaway goal out of the penalty box at 15:05 opened the floodgates. Nick Johnson scored his team-leading 11th goal into an empty net at 19:16, and freshman Jon Grecu the night of Dartmouth milestones with his first career goal through Pesony’s pads at 19:41.
“The fourth one (Offers’ goal) is a fortunate puck coming out of the zone with us coming out of the penalty box,” Gaudet said. “It’s such a swing: They don’t score on the power play, and we score coming out of the box. … It’s a bounce, a fortunate play that sometimes happens.”
St. Lawrence (13-14-2 overall, 7-9-1 ECACHL) scored two power play goals on just three shots in the first period for a 2-1 lead. Matt MacDonald and Josh Anderson sandwiched goals around a Dartmouth power play marker from Mike Ouellette. Dartmouth got its game-winning run going on the man up at 13:50 on David Jones’ redirection of an Offers power play feed.
The Saints did leave with a milestone of their own when senior Mike McKenna briefly relieved Pesony with 1:53 to play in the game. It was McKenna’s 86th appearance for the Saints, breaking a 49-year-old school record.
SLU coach Joe Marsh, who first got to know Gaudet when the Dartmouth coach was a Dartmouth goalie and Marsh was a New Hampshire prep school teacher, was among the first to congratulate Gaudet on his achievement. It took the sting out of an otherwise disappointing night.
“It didn’t even realize that; that’s awesome,” said Marsh. “If I had to lose one, I’m glad it’s something memorable for him.”
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.