PRINCETON, N.J. — When Harvard trounced Princeton 7-0 three weeks ago at Hobey Baker Rink, Tiger head coach Guy Gadowsky remained appreciative of one positive: The fans actually stayed through the whole game.
For that, he vowed, “We’re going to pay them back.”
Friday’s decisive 6-2 win over Dartmouth is a good start.
Princeton (7-17-2, 5-13-1 ECACHL), which broke up its top scoring line of Grant Goeckner-Zoeller, Dustin Sproat and Patrick Neundorfer to generate offense, received two goals from freshman Keith Shattenkirk to sweep the season series with Dartmouth (14-10-2, 10-8 ECACHL).
“We’ve been getting great play from guys like Landis Stankievech and Keith Shattenkirk and Sebastian Borza and Darroll Powe, and they’re just on the verge of breaking out,” Gadowsky said. “All those three guys of our [top] line are such skilled players that I thought they could help.”
“We tried it at the end of our game on Saturday night last week and we finally started getting some momentum, and so we decided to go with it,” Sproat said. “It just kind of rejuvenated everyone a little bit. The scoring was really spread out tonight so it really worked out well.”
The decisive goal came 1:04 into the second period with Princeton hanging on to a 2-1 lead. Neundorfer’s shot on goal was deflected, and Powe knocked the puck in the net from mid-air.
“That was the biggest goal of the game,” Gadowsky said. “If that one went against us I think everything is different.”
“We came out fumbling with the puck tonight, not making smart plays, not doing what we usually do to win hockey games,” Dartmouth forward Mike Ouellette said. “Credit to Princeton. They came out and played hard and made us battle for everything. I think we just let a few bounces get away from us tonight and once we were down, we didn’t have the mental toughness to stay focused and get back in the game, and it’s something we have to work on.”
Shattenkirk opened the scoring for Princeton 5:50 into the first period. Sproat sent a quick pass to the right of the net to Shattenkirk, who slid the puck past Dartmouth goalie Sean Samuel.
“We seemed to click and find each other,” Shattenkirk said. “Sproat hit me with that puck, and after missing the first one from Landis I felt like I had to get that next one in.”
With Dartmouth’s Rob Jarvis in the penalty box for holding at 8:37, the Tigers had the opportunity to make it 2-0 on the power play. However, Princeton defenseman Luc Paquin turned the puck over at the point, and Ouellette raced down the ice on the breakaway. Goalie Eric Leroux was able to get a piece of Ouellette’s shot, but it trickled through Leroux’s legs to tie the game.
But the Tigers rebounded a little over two minutes later, as Shattenkirk picked up a Brian Carthas pass off the boards and backhanded the puck top shelf for his second goal of the night.
“Brian Carthas gave me a beautiful pass and I figured I’d try to get it on net because good things happen when you get it on net,” Shattenkirk said. “It worked out for me.”
Leroux was strong the first half of the game, when the score was close. He finished with 31 saves.
“He was making saves for us, and we had to return the favor by getting a couple of goals,” Shattenkirk said. “When you have that kind of confidence in your goaltender that when you get up, he’s going to make the saves for you, it does a lot for you.”
Goeckner-Zoeller scored at 3:12 of the third to send Samuel to the bench and extend the lead to 4-1, then assisted on Princeton’s next two goals. Goeckner-Zoeller dove on the ice to knock a pass to Mark Masters, who beat goalie Dan Yacey at 6:39. Then at 12:30, Goeckner-Zoeller set up Sebastian Borza, who skated in front of the crease and backhanded the puck in for his sixth goal of the season to make it 6-1.
Dartmouth added a goal with 2:16 to go in the game when Garret Overlock one-timed a Jarvis pass in the slot.
Princeton will play its home finale Saturday night against Vermont while Dartmouth travels to New Haven, Conn., to face Yale.
“Getting a big win at home in the last home weekend feels good but we know we have a job to do tomorrow, so we’ll be confident and ready to come out and do it again tomorrow,” Goeckner-Zoeller said.
“We recognize what we did wrong and luckily we have another night to get some positive things for the weekend,” Ouellette said.