HANOVER, N.H. — It’s a good thing for Dartmouth that its defensemen are such quick learners.
Without banged-up blue liner Grant Lewis and with another defender, Sean Offers, lost to a first period injury, the Big Green needed its defense to adjust before putting a three-goal third period on Quinnipiac in a 5-4 ECACHL win Friday night at Thompson Arena.
Dartmouth’s biggest challenge, junior defenseman Mike Hartwick admitted, was simply getting used to a new face on every shift over the first 40 minutes of play. Once done, the Big Green’s transition game took over with third period strikes from Mike Ouellette, Tanner Glass and Nick Johnson to extend two unbeaten streaks: five games overall and nine in ECACHL play.
“I think it took probably 15 minutes of the second period before we got our feet under us and figured out what we had to do,” said Hartwick, who added a career-best three assists to a paltry career resume of 11 points in 79 games entering the night. “We had a hard time breaking out, and that comes from not playing together every shift.”
The Bobcats (15-15-0 overall, 6-12-0) capitalized on Dartmouth’s confusion, riding a two-goal second period from Joe Dumais to a 3-1 lead. But once Hartwick fed light-scoring Dan Shribman for a one-timer with 2:16 left in the second period, the game turned inexorably Dartmouth’s way.
Ouellette’s transition goal at 6:28 of the third tied the game at 3-3. Mark Van Vliet gave Quinnipiac a last, brief lead at 8:35, but Glass banged in a Hartwick rebound two minutes later, and Johnson potted an Eric Przepiorka pass at 13:29 on a three-on-two for the clincher.
“They’ve got high-end players, and they’re going to finish those plays,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “We don’t want to give them those opportunities.”
David Jones had a goal and two assists for Dartmouth (12-10-2 overall, 10-5-2 league); his team-best 12th score of the season was matched by a strike by the Bobcats’ Ben Nelson in a 1-1 first period.
Offers was forced from the game at 8:52 of the first period when he was struck by the puck behind his left ear near center ice. The impact created a large enough tear to require a trip to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical center, ending the senior’s night early.
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet was pessimistic about Lewis and Offers being available for Saturday’s date with Princeton but was pleased with how his remaining blue liners adjusted to the challenge.
“We knew we were banged up; we didn’t dwell on it,” Gaudet said. “We just tried to keep it simple. The guys made some really big plays.”
Mike Devine finished with 31 saves for the Big Green, while Bud Foster netted 27 stops for Quinnipiac.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.