Men's Hockey: Eagles Beat Dartmouth, 6-3
Boston College’s Steven Whitney (21) scores against Dartmouth’s Charles Grant last night. (Boston Herald - John Wilcox)
Boston College's Bill Arnold (24) trips up scores against Dartmouth's Tyler Sikura (16) during the first period. (Boston Herald - John Wilcox)
Chestnut Hill, Mass. — In a game of flurries, the Dartmouth College men’s hockey team eventually succumbed to top-ranked Boston College’s top-line whitewash in the Eagles’ 6-3 win at Conte Forum yesterday.
BC forwards Johnny Gaudreau (two goals, three assists) and Pat Mullane (two goals, two assists) combined for nine of their line’s 13 points as the reigning national champion Eagles (10-1; 8-1 Hockey East) won their 10th straight and 29th of 30 dating back to last season.
Eleventh-ranked Dartmouth (4-1-1 ECAC) fell to 5-2-2 overall in its first of five consecutive nonconference games.
Steven Whitney had a goal and two assists and Patch Alber added a helper for Boston College, whose starting five finished a combined plus-19.
“It’s the best line I’ve seen,” said Big Green coach Bob Gaudet, whose team rallied from 1-0 and 3-1 deficits, but never led. “We didn’t have the answers to match up with them. When we tried to get our transition game going, they got back in a hurry and it seemed like they had eyes in the backs of their heads. They fed off each other. It was actually fun to see, I just wish it didn’t have to come against us.”
Dartmouth trailed 3-1 after Gaudreau’s first goal with 6 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the second period, but made it a new game heading into the third.
With BC’s Mike Matheson in the box for interference, Dartmouth junior Matt Lindblad (two assists) found a skidding Brandon McNally in the slot for a one-timer past BC goalie Parker Milner (20 saves) to make it 3-2 with 1:28 left in the second. Dartmouth netted the equalizer just 47 seconds later, Dustin Walsh and Lindblad connecting with Tyler Sikura for a tic-tac-toe goal out front to tie it up before the second intermission.
“We persevered and battled, shift-by-shift,” Gaudet said. “It’s a resilient team and we’re learning as we go, how to respond when we get down.”
As quickly as the Big Green got back in it at the end of the second, BC silenced the Dartmouth charge with a pair of bang-bang goals to start the third.
Just 18 seconds after the final stanza’s opening faceoff, Gaudreau’s backhand pass from behind Dartmouth’s net found Mullane for a one-timer that beat Green freshman goalie Charles Grant (25 saves) stick-side to make it 4-3. Less than 2 1/2 minutes later, the Eagles made it a two-goal game again on a 3-on-2 chance when Mullane and Gaudreau set up Whitney’s seventh of the year.
“It was disappointing to start the period like that,” Gaudet said. “We’re looking to build on momentum there, and for them to score on the very first shift really hurt us.
“(Mullane’s goal) was a great play, and it showed that BC is No. 1 in the country for a reason. You have to give them credit for bouncing back like that because we went into the third period with a chance to play with a lead and they turned it around.”
BC — which scored within the first five minutes of each period —- jumped out to a 1-0 advantage at 3:21 of the first, when Alber’s feed from the left circle found Mullane for a low wrister in the slot past Grant.
Dartmouth owned a 17-11 shot advantage in the first period and nearly made tied the game on several occasions during the power play. With BC’s Kevin Hayes in the box for a slash, Milner barely smothered a bid from Dartmouth senior Dustin Walsh, and Brad Schierhorn and Rick Pinkston both ripped dangerous slap-shot bids during the same man advantage.
Dartmouth’s barrage continued with McNally and Eric Robinson challenging from close range at full strength, while Dartmouth’s defensive effort kept BC from putting together many serious threats. Speedy freshmen Geoff Ferguson and Ryan Bullock, among others, helped keep the puck away from Grant, and the Green finally tied it during 4-on-4 play late in the period. After Charlie Mosey set up Tim O’Brien for a Milner pad save, Pinkston stuffed in the short-side rebound for his first of the year with 3:40 remaining.
“Dartmouth really took it to us in the first period,” 41st-year BC coach Jerry York said. “We were a fraction behind them on every chance they had (and) just came out of the gate a step slow. We started to settle in by playing unselfish.”
The Eagles took a 2-1 lead on a lateral pass through traffic, Patrick Brown poking in a left-side offering from Brooks Dyroff an instant before Brown crashed into Grant to knock the net off the moorings 4:22 into the second.
The teams traded chances during the middle stages of the period before Gaudreau executed a highlight-reel goal, skating in around Dartmouth defender Andy Simpson and launching an angled wrister from about 17 feet out off Grant’s helmet to make 3-1.
“I noticed (Grant) was down low the last time we were (skating) wide,” said Gaudreau, a sophomore whose five points were a career high. “We emulate that in practice, trying to get it up high from the side. I was trying to get it in off his shoulder.”
Down 5-3 in the third, the Big Green stayed on the attack. Milner stoned O’Brien twice on 1-on-1 bids, including a sprawling save on the goal line with 3:09 to play. BC stayed on its heels unil Gaudreau’s empty netter sent fans scurrying for the exits with six seconds left.
“This was an out-of-conference matchup that really challenged us,” said York, whose Eagles have corralled four national titles since 2001. “Scoring early in the third period was huge for us, but Dartmouth was right there with us (during the third period).”
The remaining four of the Big Green’s string of five nonconference games are all at home, beginning with games against Bentley (Saturday) and Vermont (Dec. 5) and continuing in the Ledyard Bank Classic on Dec. 30-31.
Ice Chips: York registered career win number 923, one away from tying former Bowling Green and Michigan State coach Ron Mason for most in NCAA history. York is the winnigest active D-I coach. ... Dartmouth’s top-ranked penalty killing unit held the Eagles to no shots on their lone power play in the second period. The Big Green’s PK has stymied 29-of-30 opponents’ opportunities (96.7 percent). ... BC’s third goal was reviewed for potential goaltender interference. ... Pinkston’s 4-on-4 goal came after Whitney and Simpson quarelled behind the Dartmouth net after the whistle and were sent off for matching holding penalties. ... The Big Green played without left wing Eric Neiley, a sophomore injured during Dartmouth’s 1-1 tie at Cornell on Nov. 17. Lindblad, a junior center, returned after missing the Cornell game with an injury. ... Grant (.917 save percentage; 2.47 goals against avereage), a freshman, started consecutive games for the second time this season. He now has four starts compared to five for junior Cab Morris (.919; 1.97).
Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.
This story has been amended to correct an earlier error. The following correction ran in the Tuesday, Nov. 27 edition of the Valley News:
The name of Eric Neiley, a sophomore on the Dartmouth men's hockey team, was misspelled in Sunday's story.