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Big Green Hockey Tames Tigers

Dartmouth College players Jack Barre (12), Geoff Ferguson (4) and Charlie Mosey (28) envelop scorer Jesse Beamish during the first period of Saturday's ECAC game at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Dartmouth College players Jack Barre (12), Geoff Ferguson (4) and Charlie Mosey (28) envelop scorer Jesse Beamish during the first period of Saturday's ECAC game at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

Hanover — Slogging through a season in which it always seems to be the other guys who catch a break, the Dartmouth College men’s hockey team finally snagged one of its own Saturday, holding off ECAC and Ivy League foe Princeton, 5-3, at Thompson Arena.

After building a 4-0 lead through 21 minutes, the Big Green surrendered three consecutive tallies and was holding on by its gloved fingertips as the third period began. With 11 minutes to play, however, Dartmouth’s Jesse Beamish skated up the left wing and uncorked a 40-foot shot at Tigers goaltender Sean Bonar.

The netminder dropped into his butterfly stance a split second too late, the puck striking a leg pad and trickling ever so slowly behind him and across the goal line. With a little breathing room and momentum now on its bench, the Big Green kept the heat on the Tigers, finishing with a 48-20 shot advantage. The output was a season high.

“I broke out of the zone and gave it to Charlie Mosey and he gave me a nice, quick pass back,” said Beamish, a junior who scored two goals in a game for the second time in his career. “I shot from the top of the circle and I didn’t get all of it, but luckily it squeaked through. I thought the puck was going to pop back out, but then I heard people cheering a little bit and when I skated behind the net, I saw it coming through.”

Said teammate Ryan Bullock: “That fifth goal really twisted the dagger into them.”

Dartmouth, which improved to 4-15-3 overall and 3-11-1 in ECAC play, burst out of the gate with an opening goal by Grant Opperman during the sixth minute and on a power play. The freshman snuck a shot from the right circle and inside the near post.

The Big Green doubled its lead eight minutes later on a one-time slap shot by defenseman Ryan Bullock, pinching down into the high slot. The advantage moved to 3-0 when Beamish struck three minutes before the initial intermission, pulling a rebound back and scoring from the low slot.

Brandon McNally gave his team a 4-0 lead just 45 seconds into the third period, parking atop the crease and redirecting in an Eric Neiley shot from the left point.

“I think in the second period we got a little too excited with the way the game was going and we started to sit back,” Beamish said. “It caught up to us, but we talked it over before the third period and felt we were still in good shape and we just had to settle down.”

Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, whose team snapped a four-game winless streak, admitted to experiencing some tension as the Tigers (4-17, 3-11) crept closer.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, because the game ebbed away a little bit,” he said. “They took advantage of some of our turnovers in the offensive zone when we were trying to make a play. In a one-goal game, they’re just a power play away or it can be on a shot from a bad angle that hits someone and goes in to tie it.”

“The good thing was, going into the third period, it was really important to keep the play in front of us and we didn’t really give Princeton much.”

The victory came a night after Dartmouth was shellacked, 8-1, by visiting Quinnipiac. Gaudet said he told his troops to forget about the beating and focus on what they could still control.

“Last night, the puck dropped and it was in our net,” the coach said, referring to the Bobcats scoring after just eight seconds. “I told the team you have to have amnesia. I really wanted a response and for the team to play with good emotion tonight. We came out with so much fire and that was a huge step for us.”

Notes: A sellout of 4,500 was announced, despite small blocks of empty seats in parts of the arena. … Charlie Mosey had a career-high three assists. … Dartmouth leapfrogged Princeton and into 11th place in the 12-team ECAC. … Sophomore goaltender James Kruger made 17 saves for his first collegiate victory. … Despite allowing five goals, Bonar was outstanding, making 43 saves and 25 through the first 25 minutes. He stopped two Dartmouth breakaways and flashed out his glove while doing the splits to rob Dartmouth’s Brad Schierhorn. … Gaudet said injured captain Tyler Sikura (knee) could be back fairly soon, although perhaps not this coming weekend. Fellow forwards Brett Patterson (wrist) and Troy Crema (ankle) are likely looking at a longer time for their return. … Dartmouth was scoreless during 23 power-play chances in January but tallied on 3 of 4 Saturday. … In a Princeton game tradition frowned upon by the athletic administration, students in attendance threw tennis balls on the ice after Dartmouth’s first two goals. The second time earned the Big Green a delay of game penalty, which it successfully killed off. … Dartmouth played without injured freshman center Troy Crema (ankle), but regained the services of junior wing Neiley, who had sat out the last two games because of a suspension for hitting a Cornell foe after the final whistle two weeks ago. … Standout forwards Tyler Sikura and Brett Patterson are still out with injuries. … Nick Lovejoy, normally a defenseman, played at wing.

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