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Dartmouth got five goals and seven assists from its top line, including a hat trick from freshman center Mike Ouellette, and the Big Green went on to defeat Rensselaer, 7-1.
Along with Ouellette’s hat trick, sophomore right wing Lee Stempniak had a goal and four assists and left wing Hugh Jessiman, a freshman who had a hat trick and two assists in the first meeting between the two teams, added a goal and three assists.
“All three of them, they’re a good line for us,” said Big Green head coach Bob Gaudet. “We broke them up for awhile to see how their chemistry would go, but they gel together.”
With the victory, Dartmouth improves to 16-11-1 overall and 12-9-0 in the ECAC, in fourth place in the league standings with 24 points. The Engineers, who are in 11th place with nine points, lost their school-record 23rd game of the year. They fall to 9-23-3 overall and 3-15-3 in the league.
The homestanding Engineers opened the scoring on an unassisted power-play goal from senior Carson Butterwick midway through the first period. Butterwick picked up his sixth of the season after intercepting a clear ing attempt and scoring on a wrist shot that went off of Nick Boucher’s glove.
The Big Green needed just 1:29 to tie the game as Ouellette scored on a wraparound, and Stempniak put the visitors ahead, 2-1, at 15:33 of the first with a rebound goal while on the power play. Defenseman Trevor Byrne intercepted a clearing attempt and put a shot on goal. Stempniak picked up the puck before Kevin Kurk could locate it and tallied his 16th of the season.
The Engineers had a chance to tie the game with two odd-man rushes late in the first. Eric Cavosie came down the far wing and put his initial shot on Boucher and got his own rebound. The rebound kicked out right before it could go through the five-hole. Then Kevin Croxton came in alone on Boucher and put the shot wide.
“When the power play ended, he walked in clean and it could have been a totally different game had they tied it 2-2,” said Gaudet. “That was definitely a key play and Boucher was good all night.”
Ouellette scored his second of the night to increase Dartmouth’s lead to two goals when he tipped in a Jessiman pass at 6:27 of the middle stanza. The Big Green’s Kent Gillings made the score 4-1 with an outstanding individual effort for his tenth of the season. A senior co-captain, Gillings came down the left side and roofed the puck under the crossbar from close range.
Third period goals by Jessiman, Eric Przepiorka and Ouellette closed out the scoring for the Big Green. Senior netminder Boucher, making his 100th career start, finished with 34 saves in the victory. Kurk stopped 30 shots for the Engineers. Dartmouth outshot RPI, 37-35.
“We had it matched up the way we wanted it to, just a couple of times down low, we had them contained along the wall and their guy beats us to the puck,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “When you get behind you have to open it up and they’re the kind of the team that will hurt you when you open it up on them. We did create a lot of good scoring opportunities, we just didn’t finish.
“The shots on goal wound up being 37-35 and it winds up a 7-1 game; it’s tough to figure.”
“It was a deceptive game, I don’t think that was a 7-1 game,” said Gaudet. “It could have been a lot closer than that. We made good saves and played some good plays and it wasn’t a 7-1 game. We drew some penalties and worked hard. It was a good win for us.”
Rensselaer returns to action on Saturday night, hosting Vermont in the regular-season finale. Dartmouth will play its finale at Union Saturday. With a win the Big Green clinch a first-round bye for the ECAC playoffs.