HANOVER, N.H. — A week after surrendering a three goal final period in a tie with Harvard, No. 20 Dartmouth turned the tables on Rensselaer and used a three goal third to outdistance the Engineers at Thompson Arena, 5-2, in ECAC Hockey League play.
The victory enabled the Big Green (11-7-2 overall, 8-4-1 league) to retain a top four slot in the ECAC standings, an unlikely scenario at the start of the season given Dartmouth’s youth. But in RPI coach Seth Appert’s opinion, the Big Green’s youth did the serving in a game that wasn’t reflective of how well the road-tested Engineers (6-18-2, 5-8-1) had been playing away from Houston Field House this season.
We had started to gain an understanding of how hard you need to play to win on the road, said Appert, whose team was skating away from home for the 11th time in 13 games since Thanksgiving.
You don’t get a lot of calls on the road. You don’t seem to get those friendly bounces on the road, so you really need to earn your victories through discipline, attention to detail and real hard work. Tonight, we didn’t have enough of that.
All three Dartmouth goals in the final 20 minutes came with one or both teams shorthanded.
Scott Fleming started the clinching charge at 5:30 of the third. With RPI and Dartmouth both down a man, Fleming cut in front of a retreating Engineer defender and whipped a 20-foot wrister past goalie Matthias Lange (25 saves) for a 3-1 lead.
Rensselaer’s Seth Klerer brought the visitors back to within a goal about two minutes later, but special teams secured the victory for Dartmouth. Adam Estoclet blasted a Fleming feed on a 5-on-3 past Lange at 9:47, and Kyle Reeds picked the pocket of RPI’s Kurt Colling and bested Lange shorthanded at 16:21.
I thought the third period was huge for us, Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. It’s only a one-goal difference, and I just thought our guys really buckled down.
The Big Green started quickly, getting a goal from Joe Gaudet just 28 seconds into the contest. Connor Shields doubled Dartmouth’s lead at 9:16 of the first.
Chase Polacek — robbed by Dartmouth netminder Jody O’Neill (27 saves) on open looks in the middle period — finally drilled a 5-on-3 feed home at 9:17 of the second to halve the Big Green lead.
Dartmouth thought an Evan Stephens minor had expired a second before the goal, but officials ruled the Thompson clock ran for two seconds after Polacek’s strike, allowing RPI to maintain a 5-on-4 advantage.
Rensselaer never seriously threatened, and Dartmouth stepped on the gas after the second intermission to complete a season series sweep.
The Big Green goes for the same against Union tonight. RPI will play five of its final eight games at Houston, starting with a Friday date with the Dutchmen.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.