NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs broke open a close game late in the second period with three goals on the way to a 6-1 win over Dartmouth in game one of the best-of-three ECAC Hockey first-round playoff series. Mike Doherty, Chris Izmirlian and Joe Snively each had a goal and an assist and Sam Tucker stopped 24 of 25 shots to put Yale up 1-0 heading into Saturday night’s second game.
The Elis (12-13-5) used two power-play goals and a 32-25 edge in shots to register their third straight win over the Big Green this season. Yale won 7-0 at Hanover and then 4-0 at home during the regular season.
Dartmouth had the first four shots on net and an 11-10 edge overall in the first period, but the Bulldogs hit the net to take a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Snively’s great hands enabled him to gather a rebound that popped out to the right circle. The sophomore settled the puck and deposited it into an open right side. Charlie Curti took a shot from the left point that went through some traffic before hitting Devin Buffalo’s pads and kicking out to the other side for Snively, who flicked it over the diving goalie for his 12th of the year.
Tucker stopped all 11 shots in the opening frame, including a very quick, sliding reaction to an Alex Jasiek shot that was heading for the upper corner of the net.
Tucker’s lateral movement allowed the puck to head straight for his stomach with 34 seconds left.
The Connecticut native made another excellent save on an advantage late in the second that could have been a momentum changer.
The shots were 12-7 for the home team in the middle period and the Elis potted three of the four goals, all over the last seven minutes, to take a 4-1 lead into the third.
The Blue made it 2-0 with 6:08 left in the second on a breakaway by Ted Hart. The sophomore winger had a couple of steps on the Dartmouth defender and fired a shot from the inside of the right circle that bounced off the goalie to the high slot. Doherty, who was skating hard to follow the play, beat the rest of the Green to the puck and flicked it over Buffalo’s shoulder.
The visitors cut the lead in half a few minutes later, but the Bulldogs used a power-play tally by Anthony Walsh to get back to the two-goal margin. Snively passed the puck from the top of the right circle down to Robbie DeMontis near the goal line. The rookie center held for a moment before seeing the sophomore blueliner race into open space in the lower left circle. Walsh one-timed the feed inside the left post.
Izmirlian scored 28 seconds later to send the Blue into the second intermission with added momentum. The senior center was the beneficiary of a wonderful behind the net feed by his classmate, Doherty, who had knocked a Dartmouth defenseman off the puck to cause a turnover. Doherty came out from behind the net on one side and sent the pass in front with Izmirlian coming from the opposite side.
The Eli penalty kill came up big in the third as the Big Green tried to get back into the game. Tucker and company blanked a pair of chances and then the Eli offense kicked it into higher gear with goals by John Hayden and Mitchell Smith. Hayden’s was a nasty wrister from the left circle that went low near side on Buffalo, who was then pulled from the net for Adrian Clark.
The new Dartmouth goalie was greeted instantly by Smith’s pretty tally off a great Andrew Gaus feed.
The Bulldogs and Big Green drop the puck again at 7 p.m. on Saturday.