NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Perhaps it was the 6-1-2 record in the last nine outings. Perhaps it was the shocking 2-2 tie at No. 5 Cornell last weekend. Whatever it was, Yale fans seemed to have reason to believe their team could put together a full three periods tonight after the Bulldogs exploded to a 3-0 lead against Dartmouth in the opening frame.
Nevertheless, fans saw a familiar refrain, as the Big Green (11-10-1, 9-5-1 ECACHL) took 43 shots and scored six goals in the final 40 minutes to beat Yale (7-12-3, 6-8-2), 6-4.
To the uninitiated Ingalls Rink guest, the monumental comeback would have seemed unthinkable.
Yale jumped ahead early and did not stop. Not long after the opening faceoff, Dartmouth goalie Mike Devine faced a barrage of shots from the home team. He stopped the first two, including the second by David Inman on a fine glove save. But winger Jean-Francois Boucher was quick to the rebound, giving Yale the game’s first goal and first three shots after just 1:20 of play.
Six minutes later Yale doubled its lead. Moments after Brad Mills saw his dead-angle shot slide through the crease parallel to the goal line, defenseman Matt Cohen found a loose puck at the point and rocketed home his second goal of the year.
The Bulldogs got their third first-period goal on the man advantage. Michael Karwoski, a forward who plays the point on the power play, bluffed a shot from the blue line and sent a backdoor pass to David Meckler. Devine was so fooled by Karwoski that Meckler had time to corral the puck with his skate before shooting into the open Big Green net.
“In the first period everything was going our way,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said. “We played, collectively, our best hockey of the year and dominated every aspect of the game.”
From the first moments of the second period, Dartmouth applied heavy pressure and seemed bound to beat Yale freshman phenom Alec Richards at some point. That point came at 4:06 of the second frame, when Eric Przepiorka wiggled around Yale’s Chris Brooks behind the net before finding Nick Johnson unmolested in the low slot for a one-touch goal. The score, Johnson’s ninth of the year, ended Richards’ home shutout streak at 96:54.
Przepiorka was at it again seven minutes later. Grant Lewis fed him a pass on the doorstep, which he converted for his ninth goal of the season, drawing the ire of the Yale faithful when he taunted the nearby student band before celebrating with Lewis.
Przepiorka’s ostentation was a fitting symbol for a period that saw Yale outshot, 26-4, and utterly unable to clear its zone against Dartmouth’s relentless neutral-zone trap.
“We just couldn?t stem the tide in the first period,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said. “But starting in the second period we played hard and with so much passion. We won a lot of battles and a lot of races to loose pucks.”
In the third period, as a two-on-two was developing outside the Yale zone, a big hit by Inman inadvertently wiped out teammate Bill LeClerc as well. That allowed Connor Shields to walk in all alone on Richards, and with a deke and a glove-side shot he beat the freshman and tied the game.
Tanner Glass gave Dartmouth its long-awaited first lead of the game, but Yale responded quickly with a nifty two-on-one started by Jeff Hristovski and finished by Mills.
Mills would be denied on his next chance, however, when Devine turned away his breakaway chance with a sparkling glove save. The preserved tie set up Mike Ouellette’s game-winning goal shortly afterward on the power play.
“That was a game-saving play, a huge save,” Gaudet said. “I thought that save was the difference in the game.”
Despite the early three-goal lead, when defenseman Matt Craig left the game with a knee injury just five minutes into the first period, Taylor knew the Bulldogs would be in for a battle.
“Against a team like that, it’s hard to play with five defensemen, especially the way Dartmouth plays where they wear you down with their size and strength up front,” he said. “That’s not an excuse, though. We certainly let our guard down. And the second period was the turning point of the game.”