Men's Hockey Earns Trip to Lake Placid
It has been a long time coming.
On March 9-10 at Thompson Arena, No. 5 Dartmouth sent No. 6 Rensselaer back to Troy, N.Y., reeling after a 2-0 series sweep. The Big Green made certain that a third game wasn't necessary in the best-of-three matchup.
The 4-2 and 5-1 victories were the first playoff wins since 1979-80 when head coach Bob Gaudet '81 backstopped the team to the NCAA tournament.
Dartmouth also guaranteed a winning record for the first time in 21 years.
"It's a great feeling," Gaudet said. "I thought we were just outstanding. I knew this team had another gear in it, and we showed some of that tonight in front of a great home crowd.
"We've been pushing to get to Lake Placid, but we don't just want to go there, we really want to get after it while we're there. This team works incredibly hard, so I know we're going to be ready."
The Big Green used old-fashioned hard work to dominate the Engineers.
On Friday, March 9, Dartmouth allowed two goals in the opening 11:31 of the game. With the Big Green on a power play and 12.4 seconds left in the first stanza, Chris Baldwin (Glastonbury, Conn.) ripped a shot from the blueline that beat the Rensselaer goaltender, cutting the lead in half.
"Baldy's goal was huge," Gaudet said. "I thought we had played pretty solid hockey up to that point, but they had scored on two really nice plays. To get a power play goal at the end of the period was big for us."
Dartmouth took the lead in the second period as Peter Mahler (Minnetonka, Minn.) and Jamie Herrington (Cornwall, Ont.) scored just 34 seconds apart, sending the Thompson Arena crowd into a frenzy.
In the third period, it was Baldwin again, scoring an empty-netter with 45 seconds left.
Goaltender Nick Boucher (Cobble Hill, B.C.) stopped 38 shots in the game as Dartmouth won for just the first time this season when trailing after the first period.
The following night's setting was what Gaudet has spoken of so many times. Friendly Thompson Arena was filled with 3,527 screaming fans - some with signs of encouragement, others with brooms - hoping that their team would advance in the 40th ECAC Championship.
Baldwin wasted little time getting the Big Green on the board with a end-to-end goal that was highlighted when he beat an Engineer defender in close and lit the lamp at the 5:02 mark.
In a hard-hitting affair, Dartmouth exploded for three goals in the second period. Chris Taliercio (Farmingdale, N.J.) netted his 10th of the season on the power play, and then Mike Maturo (Manchester, N.H.) touched the twine for his team-leading 17th.
In the final minute of the middle frame, Dan Casella (Verona, N.J.) skated in on a partial shorthanded breakaway and rifled a shot into the back of the cage for a 4-0 lead.
The teams traded goals in the third as Dartmouth's Jason Costa (Silver Spring, Md.) scored his second of the season. Boucher made 17 saves in the game and had a shutout streak of 101:10 in the series.
Dartmouth outshot Rensselaer, 96-57, in the two games.
"To beat Rensselaer here after they beat us last year is just outstanding," Baldwin said. "Everyone contributed to the win, and everyone played a solid two games. It was a great team weekend. This is unbelievable. It doesn't seem real quite yet. But we'll be back at it Monday in practice, and we'll be ready to go." (Bill Garfield)