Hockey makes giant stride

Doug Manners

When scheduling games for homecoming weekend, schools look for teams that they are confident the home team will beat. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, someone forgot to tell that to the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team, and in particular senior goaltender Jamie Holden.

As he has done countless times in his career at Quinnipiac, Holden turned in a dazzling performance, making 45 saves as the Bobcats stunned the No. 11 ranked Dartmouth Big Green with a 2-1 win on Saturday night before 3,608 at Thompson Arena. Holden, who is from Telkwa, British Columbia, faced 46 or more shots on just two occasions last season.

“It was a lot of shots, but the team did a good clearing the zone in front,” Holden said. “If you can see the shots and control the rebounds, it makes the night a lot easier.”

This game marked Quinnipiac’s first victory against a nationally-ranked opponent since the Bobcats defeated No. 11 Union, 3-2, on December 3, 2000. None of the players from this season’s roster were with Quinnipiac – then known as the Braves – for that win.

Saturday’s win was even more special as it came against an ECAC opponent. Next season, the Bobcats will join the ECAC. Dartmouth is arguably the best team in the ECAC. The Big Green was predicted to finish first in the ECAC in the pre-season media poll, while the Hockey News picked Dartmouth to finish third in the nation.

Neither team scored in a penalty-filled first period. The Bobcats managed just three shots despite having three power plays. Dartmouth had four power plays and 11 shots in the period, all but two came while on the man advantage.

“Dartmouth came out flying. They’re not a team that’s going to back down,” Holden said.

A parade of shots continued to come Holden’s way in the second period, but it was Quinnipiac that broke the scoreless tie with 8:53 left. Senior defenseman Tom Watkins, of Monument, Colo., scored on a shot from the right point that sailed through a maze of players in front of the net and eluded Dartmouth goaltender Dan Yacey.

Through the first 40 minutes, Yacey faced only six shots. Meanwhile, Holden stopped all 25 shots he faced to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead heading into the third period.

“Getting 10 shots in a game is pretty tough. You get cold waiting for the play to happen,” Holden said. “I’d rather be in the game getting a lot of shots.”

Quinnipiac added some cushioning to its lead with another goal 12:28 into the third. Junior Ty Deinema, of Wayzata, Minn., won the face-off to Yacey’s right and senior Rob Hammel, of Pittsburgh, Pa., snuck past the defense and put a turn-around shot past Yacey for his second power play goal of the season.

Penalties plagued the Bobcats late in the third period. Less than a minute after killing Dartmouth’s ninth power play of the game, the Bobcats took another penalty with 3:58 to go when freshman defenseman Mark Van Vliet, of Dorchester, Ontario, tripped Yacey.

On the man advantage, the Big Green finally solved Holden with its 43rd shot of the night. Defenseman Garret Overlock’s shot from the top of the left face-off circle beat a screened Holden with 2:40 to go in regulation.

Dartmouth pulled Yacey for an extra attacker with 70 seconds left. The Big Green put two more shots on Holden before senior Matt Froehlich, of Apple Valley, Minn., finished the game by blocking two shots and chipping the puck into the neutral zone.

The Bobcats, who improved to 3-2 with the win, are off this weekend. They return to action on Friday, November 12, when they begin a two-game series at Niagara University.