HANOVER, N.H. — Goals from a freshman who hadn’t scored before and saves from a goalie who hadn’t won in more than a year are sending Yale a game further than it was supposed to go.
Junior goaltender Josh Gartner made 60 saves for his first win in 13 months and freshman Will Engasser scored his first two varsity goals to give the 12th-seeded Bulldogs a 5-4 overtime shocker of a win over fifth-seeded Dartmouth at Thompson Arena Saturday night. Yale (5-24-2) never trailed and left the ice tied in this ECAC Hockey League first-round series after Engasser beat Big Green goaltender Dan Yacey with a screened 40-foot wrister at 2:41 of the extra session.
“This is a new season; that’s what our motto was all week,” Engasser said. “This is huge for us. … Our team is so close; we didn’t want this to be the last one.”
Dartmouth (18-11-2), in losing for just the fifth time in 18 games since Jan. 1, couldn’t be faulted for its offense, which produced 64 shots at Gartner and rallied from deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-2.
Instead, the Big Green’s defensive zone coverage and puckhandling turned into two Yale tip-ins, a crease jam and a score off a behind-the-net turnover that kept the Bulldogs in a position of strength all night.
“I think we need to take it a little more seriously,” said Dartmouth junior forward Jarrett Sampson, who scored twice and added an assist for Dartmouth. “I think we were a little too loose today, and it showed on the ice. We’ve just got to work harder.”
Yale came out the more workmanlike squad at the outset, and was unlucky not to have a 2-0 lead in the game’s first 90 seconds. Jeff Hristovski tipped in a Rob Page feed at 1:01, but referee Tim Kotyra waved off an apparent Blair Yaworski goal 29 seconds later, saying his one-timer from the left hash never crossed the goal line after clanking the left post.
Dartmouth capitalized on the call, scoring on a Sampson redirection from Mike Hartwick at 3:26.
Gartner — who last won on Feb. 13, 2004, in a 3-1 decision over Colgate — made 20 first-period saves, and added another 17 in the second as his teammates presented him with a 3-2 lead. Brad Mills’ crease jam at 2:25 was countered by a Lee Stempniak shorthanded breakaway conversion at 3:33, but Engasser regained the Yale lead at 15:47 on a behind-the-goal turnover by Dartmouth’s Sean Offers and a feed from Bulldog teammate Nick Shalek.
“Yes, we have to defend them a bit better,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “They didn’t generate a whole lot of offense.”
Dartmouth finally sounded the alarm after Robert Burns tipped in another Page point drive at 12:43 of the third for a 4-2 lead. Eric Przepiorka pushed in an easy empty-netter at 15:51 after Sampson deflected an Offers drive off Gartner’s pads.
Sampson’s rebound of a Przepiorka backhander at 18:04 then sent the Thompson crowd of 3,306 into hysterics.
Engasser turned it to silence with his overtime strike, and opened a world of hurt for the Big Green if it can’t bounce back in Sunday’s 7 p.m. series finale.
“It was a testimony, I think, to the character of these kids,” Yale coach Tim Taylor said. “We’re on the brink of elimination, and it would have been awfully easy for the kids not to show up today.”
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.