HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth men’s hockey has a player who skated in Sweden last year, but no connections in Finland. The same can be said for its third-period play this season: The Big Green have not only lacked Finnish, but finish, too.
After Tuesday night’s 4-0 blanking of Holy Cross at Thompson Arena, Dartmouth hopes it has begun to reverse a disappointing trend. Before pouring three goals behind Crusader goaltender Charlie Lockwood in the final six minutes and change to pull away, the Big Green was looking at yet another tight third stanza that has all too often resulted in defeat.
Ben Lovejoy, David Jones and Rob Pritchard solved that problem with late goals to accompany a second-period Kevin Swallow strike and a 31-save Mike Devine shutout.
“I think we’ve let other teams hang around; we’ve outplayed a lot of teams we’ve lost to in the early going and have been happy to be hanging around with them,” said Lovejoy, whose team had been outscored 25-11 in the third period and overtime entering last night. “We need to go for the throat.”
Lovejoy, a senior defenseman, gained a measure of revenge with his goal, assist and victory. It was his giveaway last January that enabled Holy Cross forward James Sixsmith to score shorthanded with 28 seconds left at Thompson for a shocking 3-2 victory.
Lovejoy started the clinching run for Dartmouth (7-8-2) at 14:43 of the third, blasting a 60-footer through Lockwood on a Big Green power play. Jones solved Lockwood from the right circle 46 seconds later, and Pritchard finished the charge with a power play crease jam with 17 seconds left on the clock.
“It feels great to finally get some bounces and have some players put the puck on my stick so I can put it in,” said Swallow, who converted a Nick Johnson feed in the second stanza and added two assists for a career-best three-point effort.
Both teams entered with struggling offenses, Dartmouth averaging just two goals a game over a 1-5-2 stretch and Holy Cross (8-12-4) barely doing better over what is now a 1-7-4 slide.
“Their goaltender played well and made some good saves,” Crusader coach Paul Pearl said. “Their defensemen did a great job letting us get just one shot and not a rebound; most goals in college hockey are rebounds. And we’re a little snakebit right now.”
The shutout was Devine’s second of the year and fourth of his career. Dartmouth still has two more Atlantic Hockey foes on the docket this week, Canisius on Friday and Sacred Heart on Saturday.
Lockwood finished with 22 saves for the Crusaders, who host American International this weekend in a pair of Atlantic Hockey contests.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.