HANOVER, N.H. — Mistakes in the defensive zone have been a bane for Dartmouth hockey for most of the Big Green’s season. They will take on a greater importance as coach Bob Gaudet’s crew heads into the stretch run of ECAC Hockey League play next week.
Saturday night, a giveaway prevented Dartmouth from getting to the .500 mark on its fourth try this year. Playing shorthanded, Tyler McGregor knocked down a Ben Lovejoy outlet pass inside the Dartmouth blue line and fed James Sixsmith for a one-timer with 28.9 seconds to go, giving Holy Cross a 3-2 win over the Big Green at Thompson Arena.
If the turnover was the down side for Dartmouth (8-10-1), the silver lining was the nonleague nature of the game. In taking the late-game victory, Holy Cross (14-6-1) improved to 3-0-0 against ECACHL foes, 8-2-0 on the road, and made Paul Pearl (168 victories) the winningest coach in program history.
McGregor assisted on all three of the Crusaders’ goals.
“He has been (scoring key points) for four years,” Pearl said of McGregor. “He’s sneaky quick and, for smaller guy, he’s tough. He doesn’t mind getting whacked around out there, and he really jumps at the holes well.”
McGregor tipped a Matt Burke shot to start Holy Cross’ night at 6:57 of the first period, with Dale Reinhardt converting on the ensuing rebound. Blair Bartlett also netted a second-chance goal off a McGregor shot at 11:32 of the second for a 2-0 lead.
Kevin Swallow went end-to-end to get Dartmouth on the board at 18:54 of the second, feeding fellow freshman Connor Shields’ one-timer from the right circle. Garret Overlock drew the Big Green level from the right point at 7:47 of the third.
The lack of energy that marked Dartmouth’s first 20 minutes disappeared over the final 40, as the Big Green fired 27 of its 34 shots at Crusader netminder Tony Quesada (32 saves). Eric Przepiorka pinged the right post behind the senior early in the third period, while Mike Ouellette had two good tries stopped on a power play shortly after Overlock’s tally.
Mike Devine (19 saves) made two spectacular denials late to keep Dartmouth alive. The sophomore – now the man in the Big Green goal with junior Sean Samuel’s departure from the program on Wednesday – stoned Sean Nappo on a two-on-one with 4:08 left, then burned Matt Werry to close a three-on-two with 2:20 remaining.
“He played great,” Gaudet said. “He gave us the opportunity with some key saves down the stretch, and key saves during the game. He can’t be faulted on any of them. … We just didn’t come up with the good for him tonight.”
The Crusaders get their second bite of Connecticut in less than a week with a visit to Storrs on Tuesday. Union and Rensselaer visit Dartmouth next weekend, when the school will hold celebrations to recognize the 100th anniversary of the men’s hockey program.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.