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A Draw Play for Dartmouth and Princeton

Big Green Ties Tigers, as Top-Ranked Quinnipiac Looms

  • Dartmouth forwards Charlie Mosey (28) and Jason Bourgea celebrate teammate Mike Keenan’s first-period goal last night against Princeton. Tigers goaltender Mike Condon braces for an onslaught of tennis balls thrown from the student section. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Dartmouth forwards Charlie Mosey (28) and Jason Bourgea celebrate teammate Mike Keenan’s first-period goal last night against Princeton. Tigers goaltender Mike Condon braces for an onslaught of tennis balls thrown from the student section. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College wing Eric Neiley digs the puck out of the corner last night, eluding Princeton’s Aaron Ave in ECAC action at Thompson Arena. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Dartmouth College wing Eric Neiley digs the puck out of the corner last night, eluding Princeton’s Aaron Ave in ECAC action at Thompson Arena. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth forwards Charlie Mosey (28) and Jason Bourgea celebrate teammate Mike Keenan’s first-period goal last night against Princeton. Tigers goaltender Mike Condon braces for an onslaught of tennis balls thrown from the student section. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
  • Dartmouth College wing Eric Neiley digs the puck out of the corner last night, eluding Princeton’s Aaron Ave in ECAC action at Thompson Arena. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Hanover — The Dartmouth College men’s hockey team and its supporters came through in dramatic fashion last night at Thompson Arena. Not only did the Big Green earn a 2-2 tie on Jesse Beamish’s goal with three minutes remaining in the third period, but all but one fan restrained from throwing tennis balls onto the ice after the crucial tally.

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate that,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, whose team had to kill off three delay-of-game penalties each of the last two times Princeton came to town. “That was huge and fabulous.”

A longstanding tradition decried by Dartmouth’s athletic department has involved Big Green backers hurling hundreds of tennis balls onto the ice when their team scores its first goal against the Tigers. In recent years, however, the bombardment has continued after subsequent strikes, causing the home team to skate a man down.

Princeton coach Bob Prier said he wasn’t hoping to see fans airing out their throwing arms after Beamish’s goal.

“I’m glad they didn’t,” Prier said. “It’s not right to get free power plays because of that.”

The draw and single point earned by Dartmouth (13-10-5, 9-8-4) guarantees it at least home ice for next weekend’s first round of the ECAC playoffs. Should the Big Green upset visiting Quinnipiac tonight in the teams’ regular-season finale, it would clinch a top-four finish in the 12-team league and earn a first-round bye. The Bobcats are the country’s No. 1 team, but lost in overtime at Harvard last night.

“We’re playing the No. 1 in the country in the last game of the regular season and coming in with a tie instead of a loss is big,” Beamish said. “Morale’s high right now, so if we can carry that over to tomorrow, we should be in good shape.”

Last night’s final goal was set up when Eric Neiley attempted a wraparound shot from behind the Princeton net but lost control of the puck as he attempted to jam it inside the right post. The biscuit squirted out to Beamish, who banged it home.

A lone tennis ball and two small pieces of trash were lobbed on to the ice and Gaudet ordered his players to quickly retrieve them.

“I think (Neiley) tried to shoot, but two Princeton guys got sticks on the puck and it popped out in front for me,” Beamish said.

“Luckily the goalie slid out a little bit too far and I could get it behind him pretty easily. I’ll take what I can get.”

Dartmouth defenseman Mike Keenan gave his team a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute with a slap shot from center point, followed two minutes later by a Princeton goal.

The Tigers (9-14-5, 7-10-4) scored again midway through the second period and dominated stretches of the third stanza but couldn’t beat Big Green goaltender Charles Grant. The freshman made 40 saves, several of them spectacular.

Dartmouth had what Gaudet described as several “glittering chances” on which it was unable to score, including an Eric Robinson shot that caromed off the shaft of the goaltender’s stick and a Matt Lindblad breakaway on which the junior lost the handle at the last second, managing only to stuff it into the netminder’s leg pad.

“That was a hell of a game,” said Prier, whose troops play a defense-first style that can be maddening to try and solve. “Both teams played their hearts out and everyone got a look at what playoff hockey in this league will be like.”

Said Gaudet: “This was a huge point for us in front of a big (crowd). It’s a momentum-grabber for our team.”

Notes: Dartmouth Athletic Director Harry Sheehy sent the student body a mass email yesterday morning asking its members not to throw tennis balls on the ice. “This, I believe, makes us the only school in the nation that possesses a “tradition” where our own fans knowingly hurt their team,” Sheehy wrote. … Dartmouth’s Tim O’Brien was lost to an apparent leg injury midway through the second period and did not return. Also injured during the game was fellow wing Dustin Walsh. Gaudet was unsure of either’s status for tonight’s game. … Rob Bathe, who earned All-Ivy honors as the football team’s center last fall, took in the game while wearing only a pair of vertically-striped, green-and-white overalls. … Dartmouth is 10-3-1 at home this season. … The Big Green will play exhibition games in Italy and Switzerland during August. … Tonight’s contest matches the two best penalty-killing teams among the 59 squads in NCAA Division I hockey. … Quinnipiac is 10-1-2 on the road this winter.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.