A three-goal, 18-shot attack in the second period powered the Dartmouth Big Green to a 6-3 win over the Quinnipiac Bobcats in Game 2 of the ECAC Hockey first-round series at the TD Bank Sports Center last night.
“I give Dartmouth a lot of credit,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “Their backs were against the wall and they came out to play tonight.”
Dartmouth, playing in front of noticeably more hometown fans than Game 1, took a 4-0 lead on junior Matt Reber’s goal with 3:33 remaining in the second period. Reber, who assisted junior Scott Fleming’s team-leading 22nd goal 9:58 into the final period, netted a second goal two minutes later to give Dartmouth a 6-2 lead.
Fleming assisted both of Reber’s goals and sophomore Doug Jones’ power-play goal that jumpstarted Dartmouth’s offense in the second period.
“We had a lot of good chances last night but weren’t able to put them in the back of the net,” Fleming said. “But tonight we really had our power play going.
“We wanted to keep the tempo really up. We have a pretty fast team and we feel like that plays into our game.”
Quinnipiac freshman Bobby Tyson, a backup for injured defenseman Zach Hansen, broke sophomore James Mello’s shutout on a slap shot from the blue line 1:16 before the second intermission. Freshman D’Arcy O’akes added another early in the third period, making the score 4-2, but that’s as close as the Bobcats got in their try at a comeback.
Mello finished with 28 saves and the defense, led by junior Evan Stephens, blocked a combined 12 shots.
Pecknold didn’t have an answer for why his team wasn’t playing with the same confidence and drive it had the weekend before when they beat Brown, 8-3, and first-place Yale, 4-3.
“I have zero explanation for how this could happen right now with our whole season on the line,” Pecknold said. “We’ve had some unbelievable highs and some lows, and ultimately I really expect them to rebound tomorrow night. Our backs are against the wall now, and they’ll respond well.”
Dartmouth came into the series undefeated in its last five games (3-0-2), and made Friday night’s showing look like a hiccup.
“I’ve said all along I like our team,” Gaudet said. “We’ve matured a lot as this season has progressed. In the second half of this season I thought we were a really good hockey team. The first half was a learning process for us.”
Hansen wasn’t the only Bobcat defenseman undressed in Game 2. Freshman Zack Currie was replaced by Greg Holt, normally a forward and a top contributor on offense, but Pecknold said Holt held his own on the back check.
“I thought he was really good back there tonight,” Pecknold said. “He can generate some offense from back there, but we prefer to have him up on the wing with [Brandon] Wong.”
Pecknold said both Hansen and Currie are questionable to start in Saturday’s game.
Quinnipiac senior captain Jean-Marc Beaudoin followed up his third consecutive three-point night with a power-play goal with 1:43 remaining, assisted by Hot, but that was the only point tallied by Quinnipiac’s five seniors. Pecknold said he needs the seniors to get his team back to last weekend’s compete level.
Quinnipiac goalie Dan Clarke saved 29 shots, six more than last night, but six goals allowed was the most scored on him since Quinnipiac’s loss at Yale on Dec. 4.
Dartmouth seniors Peter Boldt, Joe Gaudet and Rob Smith knew that last night could have been their last college hockey game, but it didn’t show as the trio and rest of the team were running on all cylinders.
“They don’t want to go out that way,” Gaudet said. “You can see by the ice bags on our guys. They’re doing it for each other, not just the seniors.”
Photo credit: Al Valerio