HANOVER, N.H. — This must be the reason why hockey pucks have two sides. On the one side, a Dartmouth team used to first-round ECAC Hockey League tournament byes could be miffed about missing one this season. On the other side, the Big Green could be excited at the prospect of continuing the play the kind of hockey that’s produced a 12-4-0 record in 2005.
After Friday night’s regular season-concluding 6-2 domination of Brown, the answer is definitely the latter.
“I don’t think it really matters that much; it’s irrelevant,” Dartmouth sophomore forward Tanner Glass. “We’re going to have to string together some wins here. It’s just two more to tack on to get to the ECAC championships, and two more to get to the NCAA finals. That’s the way I look at it.”
Dartmouth (17-10-2 overall, 14-8-0 league) has had qualified success as a bye team the last two winters, losing the first game of quarterfinal series to Colgate two seasons ago and Rensselaer last year before rallying for a pair of series wins. The Big Green gets no time off this time, not after Vermont salvaged a 2-2 tie with Harvard to retain the final ECACHL bye slot.
Last night’s encouraging sign for Dartmouth: The guys who usually score did, and the guys who haven’t been scoring did, too. Freshman J.T. Wyman had his first two-goal game, while Glass, Eric Przepiorka and David Jones all had one-goal, two-assist nights. The points were Glass’ first since mid-January and Jones’ first in five games.
“It’s great, especially going into a playoff run,” Wyman said. “It’s really important to get everyone on the team contributing, because that’s the kind of team we are. We’re not just a couple of guys surrounded by some guys who help them out. The whole team really contributes, so it’s nice to get everyone going.”
Brown (14-12-3 overall, 9-11-2 league) caught a slumbering Dartmouth early, scoring on a Mike Meech power play conversion at 3:15 while two Big Green penalty killers played without sticks. Przepiorka equalized on the man up at 6:52, and freshman Nick Johnson signaled the beginning of Brown’s end with his team-best 14th goal of the year at 17:57.
Wyman and Glass struck early in the second to make it 4-1. Brian Ihnacak gave the Bears a glimmer of hope at 13:29, but Jones and Wyman banged home goals in a 94-second span of the third period as the Big Green pulled away. Dan Yacey stopped 33 shots in the win, the seventh time in his last eight starts in which he’s allowed two or fewer goals.
Dartmouth opens the ECACHL tournament at Thompson on Friday against 12th-seeded Yale. Brown was assured of the tournament’s sixth seed regardless of Friday’s result and will host a best-of-three with Rensselaer on Friday at Meehan Auditorium.
“We gave up some bad goals tonight,” Brown coach Roger Grillo said. “We didn’t play very well defensively, and they capitalized on it.” D’Alba stopped 21 shots before being pulled in favor of Scott Rowan after Wyman’s third-period goal.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.