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Cornell sinks Dartmouth women's hockey in OT 

  • A shot by Cornell’s Victoria Pittens goes high as Dartmouth goalie Lindsay Holdcroft gets caught out of position during their game at Thompson Arena in Hanover last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    A shot by Cornell’s Victoria Pittens goes high as Dartmouth goalie Lindsay Holdcroft gets caught out of position during their game at Thompson Arena in Hanover last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth’s Laura Stacey, shown facing down Cornell’s Alyssa Gagliardi during a game last season, will be counted on to lead the Big Green this season. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Dartmouth’s Laura Stacey, shown facing down Cornell’s Alyssa Gagliardi during a game last season, will be counted on to lead the Big Green this season. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • A shot by Cornell’s Victoria Pittens goes high as Dartmouth goalie Lindsay Holdcroft gets caught out of position during their game at Thompson Arena in Hanover last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Dartmouth’s Laura Stacey, shown facing down Cornell’s Alyssa Gagliardi during a game last season, will be counted on to lead the Big Green this season. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Hanover — The sun sets in the west. So, too, did Dartmouth College women’s hockey last night.

Jillian Saulnier ripped a one-time slap shot past Dartmouth goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft on a power play with 1:22 left in overtime as No. 2 Cornell nipped the Big Green, 2-1, in an ECAC Hockey contest at Thompson Arena. Seeking, at a minimum, its second tie against a ranked foe in two weeks, Dartmouth (4-2-1 overall, 3-2-0 league) eventually succumbed to an experienced, relaxed Cornell squad that netted both of its goals on the man advantage out of six opportunities.

“We made a couple of mistakes, and they cost us,” Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak said. “When you have that many penalties against a team like that, they’re going to score one.”

The deciding sequence began with Big Green co-captain Jenna Hobeika chopping down on a Cornell forward for a tripping minor at 3:22 of extra time. It didn’t take long — all of 16 seconds, actually — for the Big Red (9-1-0, 7-0-0) to capitalize.

Canadian national team defensemen Lauriane Rougeau and Laura Fortino linked on the winner, with Rougeau feeding Fortino at the left point and Fortino sliding a cross-ice pass to Saulnier at the right. Saulnier’s 50-footer ticked two Dartmouth sticks on its way into Thompson’s west-end net past Holdcroft (28 saves), who excelled in the Big Green goal despite taking her first loss of the year.

The defeat came in Dartmouth’s first game since a come-from-behind 3-3 tie with No. 5 Boston College on Nov. 12. This time, freshman Laura Stacey staked the home team to a lead, but the Big Green never expanded it.

“Perhaps we’ve been in those situations a little bit more, but it was a war of attrition out there today, I think,” Cornell coach Doug Derraugh said. “Both teams had their opportunities early in the game. Both teams had their chances on the power play. It’s one of those games where it could have obviously went either way.”

The Big Red could only blame itself for not coming out of the first period with a lead. Cornell had two point-blank opportunities low in the Dartmouth zone, but couldn’t put either past a sprawling Holdcroft.

The first came four minutes in. Freshman Victoria Pittens had Dartmouth’s junior netminder dead to rights at the top of the crease following a save, but the falling Cornell forward could only lift her open-net bid over the cage.

Teammate Monika Leck misfired in similar fashion at the 11:15 mark. Jessica Campbell forced a stop from Holdcroft at the left post, leaving a tantalizing rebound for Leck to convert. Holdcroft recovered, and Leck’s second-chance bid kissed the crossbar — hardly firm enough to chip the red paint — and fell away.

That left Stacey to give Dartmouth the game’s first lead at 18:40. Taking a loose puck in front of the Cornell bench, Stacey cut to her right, used defenseman Alyssa Gagliardi as a screen and beat Big Red netminder Lauren Slebodnick (29 saves) off the left post for the unassisted strike.

The freshman’s play has given Hudak flashbacks to Gillian Apps’ days in a Dartmouth sweater, but the coach admitted Stacey’s goal was of the ilk Apps didn’t usually produce.

“I don’t think Gillian had that kind of a move,” Hudak joked. “She certainly has some Appsy in her, but she also has some (Cherie) Piper in her. She has a really good stick and can make some pretty nifty moves.”

Cornell finally put the pieces together on a tic-tac-toe tying goal early in the second period. The Big Red also had Dartmouth scrambling in its own end, but not enough to gain a scoreboard advantage.

With Morgan Illikainen sitting out a tripping minor for upending the Big Red’s Brianne Jenner behind the Dartmouth net, Jenner whipped a pass that found Saulnier on the goal line to Holdcroft’s left. Saulnier quickly crossed to freshman Taylor Woods at the left crease for the one-touch conversion at 5:24.

Dartmouth senior co-captain Reagan Fischer caught the officials’ ire with a bodychecking minor with 59 seconds left in the period, and Cornell buzzed around Holdcroft with menace. The Dartmouth goalie saved Jenner following a faceoff, had Fortino’s rebound clip her mask and left a third chance from Saulnier wanting before her defenders skated out the period.

“Against a team like that, for her to be able to stay at the top of her crease and kind of attack the puck in some ways, be aggressive and not give any ground,” Hudak noted, “that was a great game for her.”

As active as Cornell’s power play was, Dartmouth’s wasn’t until Saulnier drew an elbowing minor against the boards by the Big Green bench with 1:49 left in regulation. Slebodnick started by denying a Sasha Nanji drive from the left point; the Manchester native topped that by denying an Olivia Whitford tip bid, a Camille Dumais right-post jam and another Nanji point blast to force overtime.

One too many penalties teased Cornell’s potent power play one too many times in the end.

“There’s certainly disappointment; you’re playing the No. 2 team in country, you’ve got them 1-1 after three, going into overtime, and we end up losing,” Hudak said. “We’re certainly disappointed, but I think that with some time and a little self-reflection, I think they can feel good about how they did. We’ve got to look at this as another thing we’ve got to build on.”

Ice Chips: The two teams didn’t draw the game’s first whistle until the 6:48 mark of the first period, when Dartmouth’s Lindsey Allen forced a save from Slebodnick. … Fortino, Rougeau and Jenner were all on the Canadian national team that won the IIHF Women’s World Championship in April at UVM’s Gutterson Field House. … Jenner entered the night ranked fourth in the nation in points per game (2.29). … The six minors fit into a pattern for Dartmouth, which has averaged exactly 12 penalty minutes a game through its first seven contests, the fifth-highest tally in the nation. … The announced crowd of 1,057 was Dartmouth’s best since the 1,229 who took in last year’s regular-season finale with Brown on Feb. 18. … The Big Green hosts Colgate — and Hanover native Miriam Drubel — this afternoon at 4.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.