In the semi-final showdown of the ECAC Division One hockey tournament, a fired-up and swarming fourth-ranked Dartmouth squad ousted number-one seed Boston University, 5-3, last night at the Boston Garden. Dartmouth earned the right to challenge number-two University of New Hampshire, which thumped Cornell in the first game, 5-2, for the ECAC championship.
Dartmouth, which had never won an ECAC Tournament game prior to its victory over Clarkson in the quarter finals, thrashed B.U.'s quest to repeat as national champions.
Senior Steve Higgins notched the winning goal for the Big Green, capitalizing on a blunder by B.U. goalie Jim Craig. Craig stopped an initial Higgins shot, dropped the puck and began to stickhandle up the ice. Higgins checked Craig from behind and slid a backhander into the unattended goal at 3:5 of the third period.
Dartmouth displayed determination and intensity throughout the contest while the Terriers struggled to get on track. B.U., which suffered a 2-3-1 record in its last six games of the regular season and beat Vermont in the final seconds of the quarter final seconds of the quarter finals, entered the ECAC tourney playing its worst hockey of the season. Dartmouth has been on the upswing, winning its last six games--including tonight's victory.
The standout in the Dartmouth-B.U. contest was Dartmouth goalie Bob Gaudet. Gaudet denied 29 B.U. shots with excellent goaltending.
Gaudet's acrobatics, which shut off the comeback bid of the resurging B.U. attack in the last six minutes of the game, proved to be the stellar performance in the contest.
With B.U. down by two goals, Dartmouth's Dennis Murphy incurred a highsticking penalty at 15:10 of the third. Dartmouth killed off a furious B.U. power play and after that Dartmouth took control. Ric Mellum and Murphy of the Big Green both failed to score on breakaways in the last minute and a half, but the game was in hand as B.U.'s frazzled offensive failed to mount its scoring attack.
Dartmouth led 2-0 after the first period on goals by Don O'Brien and Murphy. In the second, Buddy Teevens scored the lone Dartmouth goal as B.U. tied it with a tally by Mark Fidler and two by Mickey Mullen. Chip Bettencourt sewed it up for the Green midway through the final frame.
In the UNH-Cornell affair, freshman Dan McPherson bagged the game-winner on a controversial play in the second period. With Wildcat Paul Surdam pinned to the left post of the Cornell goal, McPherson sent a pass through the crease which deflected off a skate into the goal. The goal judge and the official ruled that the puck hit a Cornell skate--that gave UNH a 3-2 lead.
UNH killed all Cornell hopes of a sixth ECAC title with two insurance goals in the third stanza. Center Bob Francis nailed a 25-foot slapshot past Cornell's freshman goalie Brian Hayward. All-America winger Ralph Cox sprung Francis with a great lead pass.
Francis, the son of St. Louis Blues general manager Emile Francis, clinched the win when he took a one-handed pass from Cox planted behind the net and jam the puck past Hayward for the game's final tally.
The difference between this year's Cornell-UNH battle, compared to the confrontation between these two teams in the 1977 ECAC semifinals in which UNH edged the Big Red, 10-9, in 2nd overtime, was the goaltending. UNH's Greg Moffett repelled 29 Cornell shots. Five of his saves were outstanding. Moffett, only a sophomore, gives UNH the best goaltending they've had since Cap Raeder's All-America season in 1973-74.
Cox, of UNH, an exceptional player and the leading scorer in the ECAC, initiated the Wildcats' dominance early in the first period, firing a blazing wrist shot cleanly into the upper left corner of the Cornell goal from the top of the face-off circle.
In the big games goaltending makes the difference and Gaudet of Dartmouth and Moffett of UNH will face off tomorrow night to decide which team and which goalie from the state of New Hampshire will be the best in the ECAC.