HANOVER, N.H. — The Harvard Crimson could be receiving a thank-you note from the Dartmouth Big Green in the near future.
For the second successive Saturday night, Dartmouth ravaged an ECAC Hockey League foe softened by a hard Friday night game with the Crimson. Yale – a 4-3 overtime loser to Harvard – was the victim on Saturday, watching an early 2-1 lead go up in smoke courtesy of an eight-goal run in a 9-4 Big Green victory.
Dartmouth captain Mike Ouellette’s smorgasbord hat trick – a power-play goal, a shorthanded goal and an even-strength goal – led the way. He and linemates Nick Johnson and David Jones all finished with career-best single-game nights.
“Everyone knows that when you come into this building, we’re not going to lay down for anyone,” said Johnson, who finished with two goals and three assists. “It’s a pretty hard trip, and Hanover might be the tougher place to be.”
It certainly seems to be on the back end of league weekend.
Connor Shields got the Big Green (3-4-0, 3-4-0 ECACHL) going with his first varsity tally at 3:56, but Yale (0-6-0, 0-6-0) responded well for a 2-1 lead by the eight-minute mark courtesy of Jean-Francois Boucher and Jeff Hristovski. That’s when special teams became extra special for Dartmouth: Ouellette on the power play at 11:00, Ouellette shorthanded at 12:37 and Johnson on the man up at 16:22 to give the Big Green a 4-2 advantage.
In the middle of it all, Dartmouth goaltender Mike Devine (20 saves) made a spectacular sliding leg stop to rob Nate Jackson on a Yale power play and stoned another Bulldog at the end of the two-man disadvantage to keep the Big Green moving forward.
“I felt there were a couple of breaks that went against us – an easy power-play goal, a shorthanded breakaway that was kind of a fluke and a five-on-three … where Devine made a nice save,” Yale coach Tim Taylor said. “I felt we could have gotten out of the first a little better than we did.”
Dartmouth left Yale in the dust with a four-goal second period spread out over a span of less than 10 minutes.
Ouellette chased Gartner from the game at the 46-second mark, completing his third career collegiate hat trick. Gartner, outstanding in last year’s ECACHL playoffs against the Big Green, left with five goals allowed on just 15 shots.
The Big Green then welcomed backup Alec Richards rudely with three more strikes from Grant Lewis, Johnson and Jarrett Sampson for an 8-2 lead after 40 minutes. Dartmouth went 4-for-5 on the power play through the first two periods.
“We kind of waited a little bit to see what they were going to bring,” Ouellette said. “But once we found our game, there was no looking back.”
Jones, having already assisted on three goals, scored Dartmouth’s final marker in the third. Joe Zappala and Matthew Thomey lit the lamp late for Yale.
The Bulldogs will next search for their elusive first win Tuesday at home against Mercyhurst. Dartmouth faces a St. Lawrence-Clarkson road trip next weekend before its two-week exam break.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.