Icers thrash Yale, fall to Princeton in uneven weekend

by Evan Meyerson | 11/9/04 6:00am

The men's hockey team never thought the only opportunity for Dartmouth fans to throw tennis balls onto the ice would come after the final buzzer sounded Saturday. But Dartmouth was shockingly shut out 3-0 by previously-winless Princeton Saturday, offering no chance for Big Green traditionalists to carry on the custom of littering the ice with tennis balls after the first home team goal. A night earlier, Dartmouth had trounced the Yale Bulldogs 5-2, making the Princeton collapse even more surprising.

Dartmouth's ECAC schedule began Friday night against Yale at Thompson Arena. Less than two minutes into the game, Yale received a golden opportunity after Dartmouth could not clear the puck away from its own goal. Junior Christian Jensen scored off the miscue, putting Yale up quickly. However, unlike in the Quinnipiac game, Dartmouth was not flustered by the early goal. Five minutes later, rookie standout David Jones '08 received a nice set-up pass from Tanner Glass '07, scoring his first collegiate goal at 6:22. Head coach Bob Gaudet stressed the importance of a quick equalizer, calling it "a great way to get the momentum back after a bad break."

Dartmouth's frisky first period attack seemed to cause confusion for the Bulldogs, who at one point found themselves with seven men on the ice 11 minutes in. The Big Green would capitalize two more times before the conclusion of the first. Grant Lewis '07 and Garret Overlock '06, both defensemen, tallied goals for Dartmouth, giving the Big Green a 3-1 lead to end the first period.

Five minutes into the second period, aggressive defensemen Ben Lovejoy '06 went down to the ice favoring his right ankle. According to Lovejoy, he hurt his MCL but wasn't sure of the degree of the injury. Lovejoy would not play the following day against Princeton.

With eight minutes remaining in the second period, Bulldog freshman Blair Yaworski went top shelf on Dartmouth goalie Sean Samuel '07 on an assist freshman forward Jean-Francois Boucher, bringing Yale within one goal of the Big Green. The highlight of the second period came 17 minutes in when Eric Przepiorka '06 was granted a penalty shot, the most exciting play in hockey. Nonetheless, Przepiorka was denied by Yale goalie Josh Gartner, who played a very strong second period. Gartner would make 45 stops on the night.

Lewis described the second period as frustrating. "We started giving them penalties, and we struggled because of that," said Lewis.

The third period was a completely different story, as the Big Green dominated Yale. Nick Johnson '08 gave Dartmouth a cushion, scoring, like Jones had earlier, his first collegiate goal off a rebound at 3:54.

"It was definitely relieving to do. I just let it happen," said Johnson.

With nine minutes remaining, captain Lee Stempniak '05 made Bulldog defenders look foolish with a series of dekes through Yale territory, leading to his first goal of the young season. Dartmouth would win the game handily, 5-2, improving to 2-1 for the year.

Unfortunately, the Big Green's elation would be short-lived. Dartmouth took on Princeton Saturday night at the Safety and Security-laden Thompson Arena in front of a sell-out crowd of 4,500. The fans' jovial anticipation of Dartmouth's first goal was silenced nine minutes into the first period as star forward Hugh Jessiman '06 fell to the ice writhing in pain. All in attendance held their collective breaths while Jessiman clutched his right ankle. Jessiman was taken to the hospital; his status was still unknown as of late Saturday evening.

A strong defensive effort from both sides kept the game scoreless through the opening period. Princeton out-shot the Big Green 13-8.

Dartmouth kicked off the second period with a flurry of shots on the Princeton goalie junior Eric Leroux, but was denied each time. In what has become a trend when Dartmouth is scored on, the Big Green misplayed the puck in front of its own net, allowing junior Dustin Sprout to put Princeton on top at 5:00. Dartmouth out-shot the Tigers 19-9 but could not convert once as Leroux made all 19 saves.

The Big Green had their best chance of the game on its first possession of the third period. Dartmouth had two opportunities at an open net but missed on both during an all-out scrum in front of the Princeton goal. Dartmouth would get its next break at 7:30 when Tiger sophomore Grant Goeckner-Zoeller was called for hooking, but the Big Green's power play was cut short by a questionable boarding violation called on Stempniak. The suspect officiating continued when Jones' shot with eight minutes remaining hit the inside of the post but was not ruled a goal.

The final blow was delivered at 16:18 when junior Patrick Neundorfer snuck the puck between Dan Yacey '05's legs. Coach Gaudet screamed for offsides to no avail. When asked about the referees' performance, Gaudet would not comment, saying, "They do what they're paid to do."

Gaudet decided to pull Yacey out of the goal with 2:53 left in the contest, an unorthodox move. The coach defended his decision, saying, "It didn't matter whether we lost by three or four when we're trying to tie the game while being a man down." The Tigers would add to their lead on the open goal with at 18:32. Junior Brian Carthas recorded the score.

Princeton was victorious, 3-0, as fans tossed their tennis balls onto the ice (aiming them at the Princeton side) as the game ended. Gaudet would not blame the loss on effort, citing a simple need for scoring as the reason for defeat. "When you have over 40 shots on goal and don't score, it's disappointing. A lot of credit goes to the Princeton defense. [Leroux] was outstanding."

When asked what the senior leadership can do to help the players cope with the temporary losses of Lovejoy and Jessiman, defensemen John Ostapyk '05 said, "We've just got to keep the rest of the team focused at all times."

Ostapyk went on to call Saturday's crowd "fantastic." "We just wish we could have given them something to cheer about," he said.

The men's hockey team returns to action against ECAC foes Clarkson and St. Lawrence in away games on Friday and Saturday. Neither match-up can be taken lightly, as the Big Green icers must find a way to get back on track.