Dartmouth upset ninth-ranked Cornell, 5-2, burying the Big Red with a pair of empty-net goals to stave off a valiant comeback attempt.
Senior Mike Murray had a goal and an assist to lead the Dartmouth offense, while Nick Boucher recorded 24 saves, including 15 in the scrappy final period.
The Big Green (3-3-0, 2-2-0) pulled out the victory without drawing from its deepest well — a power play with 28.6 percent efficiency coming into the evening.
“You know, I don’t think it hurts them, but it helps us,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said of the win. “Our guys really competed against a great hockey team there. They’re as good a team as we’ll see maybe.”
Going up against the undefeated Big Red, Gaudet put out his oldest forwards and started senior Nick Boucher in goal. Boucher extended his unbeaten streak against Cornell (4-1-0, 3-1-0) to seven games.
Possibly Cornell’s most consistent offensive threat of the night was senior forward Sam Paolini. He applied heavy pressure on Dartmouth’s defense on consecutive plays late in the first period, eventually drawing a penalty behind the net. The Big Red quickly capitalized, as sophomore Charlie Cook took a shot from the left point that hit Boucher’s pad, but continued into the back of the net at 14:00.
Junior Mike Wheelihan tied the game at one before the end of the first with his first collegiate goal. The center iceman unleashed a quick shot from the right wing that LeNeveu simply missed.
Senior Mike Murray struggled through a stifling Cornell defense from left to right across the goal and managed to top-shelf a backhander to give Dartmouth a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the second frame.
After Cornell nearly evened the score with a three-on-one, Dartmouth skated right back up the ice and scored its third straight goal, the eventual game-winner.
Przepiorka fed Trevor Byrne right in front of the net, and Byrne beat LeNeveu to make it a 3-1 Big Green advantage.
“The coaches always encourage us to jump up when we can,” Byrne said. “I just jumped up and got a great pass and tried to put it on net.”
Cornell inched closer in the third when freshman Matt Moulson wristed one past Boucher off a cross-ice pass from Cook. The goal was Cornell’s second power-play score in six chances.
Paolini stole the puck in Dartmouth’s defensive zone and skated alone towards the net, but was stoned by Boucher. Soon after, Cornell — with its offensive pressure still mounting — put the puck past the line, but just after the net came off the pegs.
While Dartmouth could barely manage any time in the offensive zone, Przepiorka added a goal at 18:41 with LeNeveu on the bench.
The Big Green nailed the door shut with its second empty net goal, courtesy of Mike Oulette.
“We played very uninspired hockey for the first two periods,” Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. “Our guys have to take a look at themselves and ask why they didn’t bring that intensity and focus.”
Dartmouth has not lost to Cornell since November 20, 1998. Cornell’s senior class will have one last shot at the Big Green when the rivalry heads to Lynah Rink on February 7, 2003.
Cornell will return home and welcome Harvard and Brown to Lynah Rink, while Dartmouth hosts Yale and Princeton next Friday and Saturday at Thompson Arena.