ITHACA, N.Y. — Behind a strong defensive and a goaltending effort that held the Big Red scoreless until the final minute of play, Dartmouth skated off with a 3-2 victory against Cornell.
Dartmouth goalie Mike Devine provided a solid foundation for the team, finishing the game with 35 saves. His defense also blocked 17 shots en route to handing Cornell their first loss of the season.
“I was pleased with the way our guys battled,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet. “We blocked a lot of shots and our goaltender was super.”
Devine credited the Big Green defense with limiting shots to the outside and clearing rebounds in front of the net.
“Cornell had a lot of shots but didn’t have too many grade A scoring chances.”
Dartmouth came out of the gate pressuring Cornell and challenging loose pucks. Neither team was able to maintain possession in the other’s zone, but Dartmouth was able to capitalize on two power play opportunities in the first, despite only putting seven total shots on net.
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy was the first to find the back of the net for Dartmouth. Playing five on four midway through the first stanza, Lovejoy fired a one-timer, via a J.T. Wyman feed, past Cornell goalie Troy Davenport. The Big Red mounted several rushes but could not crack Devine, despite putting 16 shots on net and hitting the pipe once. Three power play opportunities for Cornell produced only three shots, and the Big Red only managed only six shots on almost eleven minutes of power play time throughout the entire game.
“It’s not the penalty kill that lost us the game,” Cornell boss Mike Schafer said. “It’s the power play and not putting the puck in the back of the net.
Cornell was on the short end of a 5 on 3 towards the end of the first when Dartmouth increased their lead to two goals. Just as the first penalty was being released, Kevin Swallow slid a puck into traffic that found its way into the back of the net with less than thirty seconds remaining in the opening period.
“We scored some timely goals in the first period with a big power play goal to start.” said Gaudet, last year’s ECAC coach of the year.
The second period was back and forth, without either team establishing dominance over the other and trading nine shots on goal apiece. The crucial play of the period and perhaps the game came when a hooking call on Dartmouth gave Cornell’s Mitch Carefoot a chance at a penalty shot with nine seconds remaining in the stanza. Carefoot took a wrist shot from in close that was easily deflected by Devine’s adept glove hand.
“It was a big momentum shift,” said Gaudet. “Going into the third 2-1 would have been a much different story.”
Dartmouth protected their lead for much of the third period. After coincidental penalties and an additional penalty a minute later, the Big Green defense blocked three shots and allowed one to reach the net after a minute of intense four on three play. Down two goals, Cornell pulled Davenport with nearly three minutes remaining. He would finish the game with twenty saves. After blocking a shot in his own zone, Dartmouth senior Tanner Glass took the puck down ice and scored on the empty net, bringing the lead to 3-0 with 2:22 remaining.
However, as fans started to leave Lynah Rink, Cornell made the game interesting. A night after coming back from a goal down in the third period to beat Harvard in regulation, Freshman Tony Romano stuffed a rebound past Devine with under a minute to go. Just twenty seconds later, Raymond Sawada found the back of the net through traffic and brought Cornell to within a goal of tying. With a half minute remaining in the game, Cornell was able to get the puck in the zone and attempt one last shot that was swallowed up by Devine, sealing the Big Green’s victory and improving their record to 4-2-0.
“It’s such a hardworking game, if you let your guard down a little bit the game could be over,” said Devine about the frantic ending.
After their first loss of the season, the Big Red fall to 5-1-0, and travel to face Princeton and Quinnipiac next weekend. Dartmouth will face off against Yale and Brown at home.