HANOVER, N.H. — Here’s to the benefits of rest, if not relaxation.
Of the goals Dartmouth men’s hockey coach Bob Gaudet wanted to accomplish during a week of competition against Atlantic Hockey foes at Thompson Arena was to give junior goaltender Mike Devine one night off. That he did on Friday, ending Devine’s streak of 38 straight starts while freshman Joe Grossman notched a 6-3 win over Canisius.
Devine returned to his office last night, apparently well-rested and ready to go. Several of his 35 saves turned out to be key stops as the Big Green completed three-game-week sweep, tipping Sacred Heart, 4-3.
Dartmouth (9-8-2) never trailed in those three contests, which also included a 4-0 shutout of Holy Cross on Tuesday night.
“It was absolutely necessary; Mike knew it and I knew it,” Gaudet said. “It’s physical fatigue and mental fatigue. We just can’t play him into the ground. He’s a type of kid who wants to play every game, but even he knew playing four over the course of a week (including a 4-2 loss to New Hampshire on Jan. 13) was going to be very, very tough.”
Devine’s first big stop came five minutes in, when he dropped his paddle to the ice to rob the Pioneers’ Erik Boisvert on an open-net bid. Sacred Heart (13-7-4) enjoyed a 17-8 shots edge over the first 20 minutes, but its best chances open looks by Nick Johnson and Bear Trapp missed the target.
The Big Green, however, cashed in its good opportunities. Dartmouth’s Nick Johnson put the hosts on the board with a power-play wrap around Pioneer netminder Jason Smith (24 saves) at 12:14 of the first. David Jones and T.J. Galiardi bumped the lead to 3-0 by scoring 13 seconds apart in the first 34 ticks of the middle stanza.
Perhaps tuckered out by four games in eight nights, Dartmouth showed signs of wear as the game wore down. Pierre-Luc O’Brien pierced Devine at 12:23 of the second; when the Big Green’s Rob Pritchard bumped the lead to 4-1 with 5:26 left in the game, Sacred Heart’s Rob Giosa answered five seconds later. Trapp added another with 44 ticks left and Smith on the bench for an extra attacker.
“We were two games under .500 there, which was the worst record we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Jones, who had a goal and an assist for Dartmouth. “So it’s nice to get back above .500 today and, hopefully, carry some of that into a tough weekend next weekend.”
The Big Green, smack in the middle of the ECAC Hockey League standings, visits Clarkson and St. Lawrence next weekend. The Pioneers, ranked second in Atlantic Hockey entering the night, get a home brace with league foe Canisius next.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.