HANOVER, N.H. – Holiday lights recently came down around this pretty New England town, but the Bulldogs lit the lamp enough tonight at Thompson Arena for another celebration of lights. Charlie Curtihad two goals and four points and five other Elis hit the net, while Patrick Spano stopped all 21 shots he faced, in Yale's 7-0 win over Dartmouth in ECAC Hockey action.
Curti's career-high goal and point outing and Spano's second career shutout (the first this season) enabled the Bulldogs to improve to 8-7-3 and 4-5-2 in conference play. The Big Green, fresh off an 8-4 win at home over Harvard on Tuesday, fell to 7-9-3, 4-6-2.
Curti gave the visitors the lone goal of the opening frame with a solo long-distance trip through the middle of the ice.
"We came out hot out of the gate and it gave us some space to work with," said Curti. "We pushed the tempo tonight and I was fortunate to get some points."
The sophomore blueliner picked off a pass in his own end and then turned on the jets to zig-zag through white jerseys. He was looking both ways to see if there were any teammates open. Noticing nobody to pass to, Curti swayed to the edge of the left circle and zipped the puck inside the right post, getting past the glove of Adrian Clark at 6:02.
There were plenty of other great chances for the Elis to increase the lead while outshooting the Green 10-6 in the first. Evan Smith hit the pipe with a wrister 20 seconds after the Curti tally, while Joe Snively had a breakaway late in the period that almost found the net, but it did draw a penalty.
"We really needed everyone tonight and everyone stepped up and contributed," said Keith Allain '80, Yale's Malcolm G. Chace Head Coach, who notched his 200th career victory. "It was a good, competitive effort from everyone, a total team effort."
If the Bulldogs were buzzing in the first, they were ripping through the second with three goals on 12 more shots. After killing off an advantage that ran into the start, and getting a pair of great Spano saves on a flurry in front of the net, the Elis made it 2-0 on a tip-in tally. Curti got his second point of the night by firing low from the point and keeping the puck within teammate stick range. Mitchell Smith was on the edge of the left circle and knocked it past Clark at 3:36 for his second of the year.
Snively, who always seems to be moving his feet faster than the Energizer Bunny, drew another penalty, and it came right after an excellent Yale penalty kill. Not only did the sophomore draw the penalty, he put the puck on the captain's stick for a power-play goal with 3:23 left in the second. Curti sent the puck from the point to the right circle, where Snively quickly sent it across for John Hayden, who took a stride and then snapped it five-hole for his team-best 14th of the year and a 3-0 lead.
Curti couldn't let another Yale scoring play happen without being involved in it. Less than two minutes later, he took a feed from John Baiocco and skated across the blueline to the top of the left circle before firing it into the net for a 4-0 score.
"We needed all four lines to play well, and we got good play from all four," said Allain. "I was most pleased that we won the one-on-one battles in all three zones for all three periods."
Just when you figured Dartmouth might tilt the ice in its direction after two periods of growling Bulldogs, Yale poured it on again in the third. Freshman blueliner Billy Sweezey got his first career goal on a Hayden pass and a shot from the high slot. Then Andrew Gaus found the cage from the right circle and it was 6-0.
That didn't mean the Yale goalie was having an easy time in the final frame, or at any other time tonight. Spano needed seven saves, including some real tough ones on an extended flurry, in the third to preserve the shutout.
"I was pretty busy in the third," said the Yale senior. "I felt like they [Dartmouth] were really pushing. We had a good week in practice and worked hard for 60 minutes tonight."
Baiocco, playing his first game of the year, did more than use his speed and stick handling skills to make an impact tonight. The junior forward had a career-high, two-point night. The finishing touch was a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that beat the Big Green's second goalie of the night.
Keith Allain hit the 200-win milestone tonight. His 100th win as Yale head coach came in a 2-1 OT decision with Air Force in the 2011 NCAA Tournament… The Elis were playing without an injured Ryan Hitchcock, who leads the team with 16 assists… Yale takes on Harvard Saturday night at Boston and it airs live on NESN at 7 p.m… Freshman forward Will D'Orsi, who skated in his sixth collegiate game tonight, is the son of former Yale player Scott D'Orsi '90. The last skater to follow his dad at Yale was Chris Brooks '06 (Michael Brooks '67)… ECAC Hockey and the Headway Foundation have a concussion awareness weekend set for Feb. 3-4… The Yale Hockey Alumni Game is set for Saturday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m.