In a homecoming trip to Providence, Dartmouth goalie—and Rehobeth, Mass. native—James Mello turned in a spectacular performance Friday night, making 39 saves to power the Big Green to a 3-0 victory over Brown. The win is the 200th of Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet, making him the second winningest coach in Big Green hockey history.
“James was just great,” said Gaudet. “He played a great game. I thought Brown played a really solid game, and he was obviously a difference for us.”
“I played just down the road for Lasalle [Academy] for three years and my whole family’s from here,” said Mello. “To come in and get two points from a good Brown team is awesome, especially not giving up a goal is just the icing on the cake.”
It took less than a minute for Dartmouth to find the back of the net, quieting the sizeable Brown student section that came out for the “Winter White Out Game.” With only 35 seconds off the clock, left-winger Nick Walsh beat Bears goalie Mike Clemente from close range off a faceoff, putting the Big Green up 1-0.
“It’s awful,” said Brown head coach Brendan Whittet. “We step out, we’re ready to go and within seconds we’re down 1-0. And it’s a faceoff goal. It’s the stuff we talk about all the time.”
After giving up the quick goal, Brown worked hard to create numerous chances, but was several times denied by Mello, who made 12 saves in the period. In one of their best opportunities, Brown winger Jake Goldberg controlled the puck with only Mello to beat, but his wrist shot from the faceoff circle was eaten up by the Dartmouth netminder.
At 10:25, the entire Meehan Auditorium sat in silence after Brown forward Bobby Farnham lay on the ice after crashing face-first into the boards as a result of a hit from behind by Evan Stevens, who received a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit. Farnham was able to skate off under his own power, and, to the crowd’s applause, returned to the ice only minutes later.
Dartmouth was able to kill the five-minute penalty, and at the end of the first period, held on to its 1-0 advantage.
In the second, Brown looked poised to strike on the power play six minutes into the period, but again the stout Dartmouth penalty kill denied Bruno. Mello made several masterful saves, including turning away a point-blank shot in the power play’s waning seconds.
Just after the kill, it was the Big Green’s turn to go a man up, but unlike Brown they were able to capitalize. A minute into the power play, Dartmouth center Matt Lindblad was able to finish from close range along the right side of the goal, doubling his side’s lead. As the teams headed into the locker room after two periods, the Bears held a 25-14 shot advantage over the Big Green, but found themselves trailing, 2-0.
After both sides traded shots in the third, Brown went on the power play after a high sticking call on Dartmouth’s Eric Robinson with fifteen minutes left to play in the game. Yet again, the Big Green killed the penalty, turning away everything Brown could muster. Mello continued his stellar play in goal, denying Brown forward David Brownschidle from point blank range with a spectacular save.
Again and again in the third Brown could not convert. On several occasions, the puck kicked around in front of the Dartmouth goal, but not once could a Bear corral and bury it. The shutout gives Mello the second of his career.
“We had some Grade-A chances,” Whittet said. “The kid made ridiculous stops, so give him credit.”
Dartmouth put the game away with only two minutes remaining. On a two-on-two break, center Doug Jones kept the puck himself, weaving his way in front of the net and beating Clemente glove-side for his team’s third tally of the night.
The loss is Brown’s fourth in a row, as the Bears have failed to string together a consistent stream of wins after their upset of then No. 1 ranked Yale on Jan. 16. The two points give Dartmouth 20 on the year in the ECAC, moving them into third place in the conference. The Big Green is set to travel to New Haven tomorrow for a showdown with first place Yale.
“Yale is a very explosive team,” Gaudet said. “You just have to work really hard and not give them opportunities. You have to take care of the hockey puck because transitionally they’re an explosive team. We have to play really hard, play really well defensively for 200 feet and be smart.”