Friday night, it was all smiles for the men’s ice hockey team as it celebrated its fourth consecutive win. But the celebration was short-lived.
A day after trouncing Vermont 6-2, the Bulldogs could not outlast Dartmouth, falling 4-3 Saturday at Ingalls Rink.
“It was one of those games where the effort was there, but the result on the scoreboard wasn’t what we wanted,” said winger Nick Deschenes ’03, who tallied Yale’s third and final goal. “It’s frustrating.”
The win gave the Big Green a sweep of Yale this season. In November, Dartmouth defeated the Elis 5-4 in Hanover, N.H.
Twice in the first period, it looked as if Dartmouth would grab the first goal with two quality power-play chances. But one shot bounced on the top of the net, while another — a point-blank shot from the right side — ricocheted off the near post.
But it was Yale who took an early lead in a first period dominated by freshman players. Rookie Zach Mayer ’06, in an impressive display of persistence, skated the puck all the way around the back of the net before backhanding it from in front of the crease past Dartmouth netminder Nick Boucher for his first career goal.
Late in the first with the score knotted at one, a delayed penalty for the Big Green meant success for Yale. With goalie Josh Gartner ’06 skating off the ice, the Elis gained an extra skater for as long as they could maintain possession of the puck. Captain Denis Nam ’03 passed to forward Mike Klema ’04, who held on to the puck through traffic and found center Jeff Hristovski ’06, who beat Boucher with a quick finish.
“Those two lines did a great job tonight,” head coach Tim Taylor said, referring to the Klema-Hristovski-Nam line as well as the combination of Mayer, Joe Zappala ’06 and Nate Murphy ’04. “When we didn’t get stuff going with Steeves’ and Higgins’ lines they played well. I was very pleased with the way those guys played tonight.”
After a promising first period, however, Dartmouth surprised the Elis in the second. Consecutive goals by the Big Green just 37 seconds apart gave Dartmouth a 3-2 lead.
After Gartner made a strong save on an initial Dartmouth shot, Yale’s failure to clear the puck resulted in a Jarrett Sampson goal from inside the crease that tied the game.
Seconds later, Dartmouth’s Joe Gaul took the lead with a wraparound score on Gartner’s glove side.
“We had too many breakdowns in the second period,” Taylor said.
Still, the Elis were able to respond and tie the game at three with a pretty power-play sequence in which Deschenes one-timed a good Steeves pass to the far side of Boucher at 8:40 in the second. The goal was Yale’s fourth power-play goal of the weekend, as the team’s extra-man unit has been much improved since Higgins has begun to play at the point.
Forward Hugh Jessiman, who has been named the ECAC Rookie of the Week three times this season, scored on a wide-open one-timer from the slot that eluded Gartner and gave Dartmouth its margin of victory.
“I’m just amazed by how quickly he’s adapted to the college game,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said. “He’s so consistent — his so-so games are other people’s great games.”
With over a minute to go in the game, Yale pulled Gartner in an effort to score. Dartmouth appeared to have scored an empty net goal, but it was called back for offsides. With eight seconds to play in the game, winger Evan Wax ’03, who has been Yale’s top scorer this season, nearly poked the puck past Boucher.
Friday night was just the opposite for the Elis. Just four minutes into the game, defenseman Joe Callahan ’05 scored his first goal of the season on the Yale power play. With five minutes remaining in the first period, Yale was already out to a comfortable 3-0 lead off goals by Ryan Trowbridge ’05 and Wax.
Wax’s goal was the result of a breathtaking play by rookie Christian Jensen ’05, who skated in over the blue line with a defenseman on him and waited just long enough to send a perfect pass right onto Wax’s stick. The senior leading scorer easily converted the picture-perfect sequence.
The Elis would score three more goals, two of them on the power play, before Vermont could even make it onto the scoreboard. Up a man to begin the second period, the Bulldogs recorded several shots on net before Ryan Steeves ’04 finally backhanded one past Vermont goalie Shawn Conschafter.
A Catamount timeout six minutes later was for naught, as Wax brought the score to 5-0 less than a minute later following the pause. The power play goal, which came after a series of shots in the front of the net, was Wax’s second of the night and sixth in two games.
After the fifth goal, Travis Russell replaced Conschafter in net.
Yale did not sacrifice its place in the standings with the weekend split, as the Elis remain tied for fourth in the ECAC. The top four teams at the end of the season receive first-round byes in the ECAC playoffs, while teams five through eight host their first-round matchups.
The Bulldogs remain at home next weekend with matches against Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
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