NEW HAVEN, Conn. — It was quite evident that despite the college hockey season being almost a month old, the Princeton Tigers and the Dartmouth Big Green were each playing their first game. But that is the idea behind the Ivy Shootout, now in its fourth season and its first since the addition of Dartmouth and the adoption of a tournament format.
“As you know, the Ivy League schools start a little bit later,” said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky. “So for our opening games to be against one another rather than someone that’s been on the ice and played that many more games, I think it makes a lot of sense for us. You never want to give up a big advantage to someone that’s been on the ice that much longer, so it not only helps [us] but it helps the whole league that way.”
The equipment managers may have been lagging slightly in their preparations as well. Though he had already picked up a fresh orange catching glove, Tigers’ freshman goaltender Sean Bonar was still wearing the royal blue pads and blocker he sported for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL.
Turnovers, mistimed passes, and mishandled pucks abounded throughout a game completely lacking in physicality. Princeton, in particular, could not get it together in the defensive end as the Big Green generated several early two-on-ones and at one point had 13 unanswered shots on net. Bonar picked his defense up though by stopping six shots from inside the circles in the opening frame, three of those from Adam Estoclet. At the other end, Jody O’Neill faced only one such shot in the scoreless opening period.
“I wouldn’t say I’m happy with it,” Gadowsky said of his team’s effort to open the season. “I would say we got some good information. Let’s leave it at that.”
The teams book-ended the second period with goals, Dartmouth early and Princeton late, to take another tie to the second intermission. Evan Stephens started the 2010-11 campaign the way he left off the last, one-timing a Scott Fleming pass from the blue line past Bonar at 0:43 of the middle frame.
Kyle Reeds almost made it a 2-0 lead for the Green midway through the period when he took aim at the far post from the right circle and rang it off the inside of the pipe before it scooted along the goal line and out the other side. The goal judge was convinced, as he immediately lit the lamp, but it was likewise immediately waved off by the referee as play continued.
Princeton tied the game at 1-1 on the power play with just over a minute remaining in the period on their second and final shot of the game from inside the face-off dots. Matt Arhontas banged one home right in front off a battle for a rebound.
The tie-breaker came on a odd-man rush by Dartmouth’s fourth line. Sophomore Jason Bourgea earned his first career point by feeding Paul Lee for the goal. Skating down the right side of the slot, in tight formation with Lee on his left wing, Bourgea waited until he was right on top of the crease before sliding the puck toward the far post. Lee reached out with the backhand and tipped the puck up over the blocker of Bonar into the top corner.
“They played really hard,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said of his team. “It’s the first game out of the shoot. We started practice on the 15th of October. It’s great for us to get prepared for the league season starting next week. Next week we play RPI and Union, who have already had five, six, seven games under their belt. So what we have is teams on the same level in terms of preparation. So it’s much better for us. You don’t know your team at all and you barely have systems in, and now you’re playing somebody who’s figured out their team and knows exactly where they are. So at least it gives us a weekend of playing [before we get into that].”
Dartmouth advances to the championship game of the Ivy Shootout at Ingalls tomorrow to face Yale at 7 p.m., while Princeton will play the consolation against Brown at 4 p.m. They each open the ECAC schedule next weekend, with Dartmouth hosting RPI and Union while Princeton travels back to Yale Friday before they head to Providence to play what will then be their second game against Brown in as many weeks.