MANCHESTER, N.H. — Scoring in just about every manner possible, New Hampshire senior assistant captain Stevie Moses did the heavy lifting, netting four goals as the Wildcats beat Dartmouth, 4-1, in the 11th Battle of the Riverstone at Verizon Wireless Arena.
Moses converted two power-play goals, one short-handed and, for good measure, an even-strength tally, as UNH (8-11-2) dominated its Granite State rival in what will be the last Riverstone game — at least in Manchester — until the 2013-14 season at the earliest.
Competing against the New England Patriots-Denver Broncos NFL playoff game, the contest drew an announced crowd of 5,301, barely more than the VWA’s listed capacity, and by far the lowest turnout in the 11 years that Dartmouth (7-7-2) and the Wildcats have moved their in-state game to the state’s largest city.
“I’m not sure about career thrills, but it’s good to get back in the win column, two in a row,” said Moses, who posted his second four-goal night of the season. “Obviously, it’s a lot of fun to score goals.”
And not much fun to give them up in the fashion that Dartmouth did.
The Big Green entered the night ranked 55th out of 58 NCAA Division I teams in power-play and penalty-killing performance. It didn’t do itself any favors by drawing four minors in the first period, and UNH — specifically, Moses — made Dartmouth pay.
The first came on a five-on-three at 15:03 of the first period. After Big Green netminder James Mello (27 saves) made a pair of point-blank denials of Kevin Goumas at the right post, UNH cycled the puck to center point for a 50-foot Moses blast into the twine to tie the game at 1-1.
Moses completed a nifty two-on-one with Goumas short-handed at 1:03 of the second to put UNH ahead to stay. The hat trick came on the man-up at 15:50 of the second, with Moses again in position at the left crease for a rebound conversion of Connor Hardowa’s point drive.
For good measure, Moses scored five-on-five at 7:27 of the third for his fourth of the night.
“I told Stevie he should have had six goals,” New Hampshire coach Dick Umile joked afterward. “He’s playing well. Nobody works as hard to get the opportunities he gets. I’ll just work with his hands this week.”
What pleased Umile more was UNH’s 60-minute commitment to defense, which hasn’t always been there through a surprisingly difficult season. But the Wildcats kept sticks in the passing lanes, and Dartmouth’s frequent visits to the penalty box prevented it from producing the high-speed affair it prefers.
“There were times when we needed to work a little smarter,” said Big Green assistant captain Doug Jones, who set up Matt Lindblad’s counterattack goal midway through the first period, Dartmouth’s only strike of the night against UNH freshman Casey DeSmith (20 saves). “That falls into discipline, when we take four penalties in the first period. That takes our flow from the game.”
It’s all league from here for both teams. Dartmouth resumes ECAC play with trips to Cornell and Colgate next weekend, while New Hampshire has a Hockey East home-and-home with Merrimack next.