Durham, NH — The battle of the Granite State’s two Division I schools was one for the ages. New Hampshire was 37-21-3 against in-state rivals Dartmouth coming into tonight. The Wildcats have beaten the Big Green in two straight meetings and were 3-0-1 at the Whittemore Center. UNH is coming off of an OT thriller against Boston College last night, pulling out the 1-0 victory. While Dartmouth lost its season opener at Harvard 7-3.
The Wildcats jumped on Dartmouth seconds into the game. Charlie Kelleher picked the pocket of Dartmouth’s Drew O’Connor at the redline and dished a quick pass to Angus Crookshank who had his first shot saved by Adrian Clark. Cruikshank buried the rebound as Clark was flailing forward.
The Big Green could have felt shell-shocked after last night’s loss to Harvard and then the quick goal by UNH, but Bob Gaudet’s squad responded by carrying the playoff of the resulting face-off at center ice. Dartmouth appeared to score on a shot by Ryan Blankemeier in front of Wildcat goalie Ty Tayler, but the linesman waved if off and play continued. When the whistle blew at 2:07 the officials reviewed the play and determined that Dartmouth had tied the game at 1-1. Blankemeier was credited with his first of the season and Tanner Palocsik and Christian LeSueur assisted on the goal.
UNH’s Joe Hankinson was called for Roughing at 2:07. Dartmouth was unable to generate much on the man advantage, but UNH’s Kohei Sato had a short-handed bid as he turned on the jets and was in on Clark. The Wildcats maintained pressure on the penalty kill that culminated with Eric Esposito dinging the post on a rebound.
Sato’s speed was the catalyst as he had another breakaway chance but he was draped by Palocsik. Sato was then hit from behind by Eric Urbank. When the whistle sounded at 13:43 UNH would have a five on three for two minutes as Palocsik and Urbank were sent off.
Dartmouth was on the verge of surviving being down two men but at 15:30 Patrick Grasso buried a shot from the slot for the 2-1 Wildcat lead. Jackson Pierson and Max Gildon were credited with the assists.
The Wildcat lead was short-lived as Dartmouth tied the game just 27 seconds later when Matt Baker jumped on a loose puck in front of Taylor and put it by the stickless goalie.
Sato again used his speed to beat a Big Green defender, then beat Clark with a shot that hit iron. UNH outshot Dartmouth 11-5 for the period.
End to end chances and fast, physical play was what the second period was all about. Cam Strong was in on Taylor for a clean breakaway but he shot high and wide. At 6:36 Anthony Wyse was called for Cross-Checking. The Dartmouth power play made the Wildcats pay. Jeff Losurdo blasted a one-timer from Brendan Less past Taylor for the 3-2 Big green lead.
Dartmouth expanded their lead at 9:52 when a Brendan Demler slap-shot from the blue line was tipped over the shoulder of Taylor by Baker, for his second of the game.
Dartmouth’s captain Demler would be sent off for two consecutive penalties. The first at 12:57 seen Crookshank with a solid chance that Clark turned aside. The second penalty came at 18:56 for Tripping. As time wound down on the period a flurry of shots by UNH tested Clark. UNH’s Grasso had two chances but couldn’t solve Clark. Dartmouth outshot UNH 13-7 for the second period.
The third opened with Demler still in the box. Grasso picked off a Big Green breakout attempt, dished to Liam Blackburn who fired off a shot, and then Benton Maas sniped the rebound only to be gloved out of the air by Clark. The end to end action continued as the two teams traded scoring chances.
At 7:41 a Crookshank one-timer from the right face-off dot beat Clark, cutting the lead to 4-3 Dartmouth. UNH continued to threaten as the third went on. The Wildcat’s Gildon was sent of for Tripping at 8:34, his teammate Pierson had a short-handed bid as he raced down the right side and tried to beat Clark.
On a face-off win for UNH, Wyse hit the post with his slapshot from the blue line. At the other end, Taylor gloved a sure goal out of the air to rob Dartmouth sophomore Sam Hesler.
Wildcat Coach Mike Souza used his timeout at 18:44. Just six seconds later Demler was called for his third penalty of the game. This time for Cross-Checking. The top-ranked power play in Hockey East would make their ECAC counterpart pay.
At 19:07 Gildon unloaded a bomb that Grasso tipped past Clark for the tying goal. The 4,012 in attendance at UNH’s Whittemore Center went delirious. The roof almost came off when UNH thought they won the game at 19:53 on a Blackburn wrap-around of a Crookshank rebound into the Dartmouth goal. The goal was ruled no goal upon review because of goalie interference by Crookshank.
For the second straight game, there would be overtime on the UNH campus. Sousa used the Wildcats time-out at 1:13 when it looked as if his team was gassed. At 2:49 Will Graber was called for Hooking, giving UNH a power play. Cruikshank had a bid on a re-direct that Clark stopped. At 4:33 senior Daniel Warpheca was called for Slashing giving the Wildcats a five on three for the remainder of extra time. It didn’t take extra time as Kelleher poked home a rebound to win the game at 4:42. UNH outshot Dartmouth 28-26 on the evening.
Afterwards, Dartmouth coach Gaudet was dejected but upbeat. “We have to get better,” said the 23-year Dartmouth boss. “We’re playing a team that’s played seven games, we’re in our second. We haven’t played back to back. We have guys on our team that hasn’t practiced back to back days because of injuries. So it’s a sign of fatigue. We have to get better. We’re a good hockey team, we played a good game.”
“We played really well but we got hurt by penalties. I wish it didn’t happen but it did.”
UNH’s Souza, in his second year at the helm, was happy to come away victorious but felt his team wasn’t as good as Dartmouth was on the night. “We were fortunate tonight,” said Souza. “I thought we were outplayed for most of the game. I think the guys realize that. Dartmouth outplayed us, we hung around, and we had a better third. We were fortunate to get a power play in overtime. our power play’s been good all year and they made a play in overtime.”
Dartmouth has their home opener on Friday night against Quinnipiac and Princeton on Saturday. Both games start at 7:00 pm at Thomson Arena in Hanover, NH.
The Wildcats are off until Sunday when they host Massachusetts in a matinee at the Whittemore Center. Puck drop is at 1:00 pm.