Hanover, N.H. – The Central Maine hockey team made up for a disappointing defensive showing by outscoring a talented Dartmouth team en route to a 9-7 victory at Thompson Arena on Saturday night. The Mustangs saw offensive contributions up and down the line-up, with seven different goal scorers and ten players registering at least a point in an offensive affair in which the visitors never trailed.
Mustang forward Sean Coleman opened the scoring for the new season just 3:11 into the contest, collecting a pass in the slot from linemate Collin Sheehan and firing a shot high over the goaltender's glove. Pat Pearson added an assist on the play. Then, at the 6:02 mark, the Mustangs would double their lead, with Jacoby Robinson scoring from just outside the offensive blue line for his first goal of the year. The goal was unassisted.
After Dartmouth pulled within one just under halfway through the opening frame the Mustangs would explode offensively, seemingly putting the game out of reach. Drake Goupil would score unassisted with 4:19 to play before Parker Springer scored his first of the year with 1:05 to go, giving the visitors a 4-1 lead after one period of play. Pearson would add his second assist of the night on Springer's tally.
Just 2:05 into the second period freshman Carl Bear would get in on the act, tapping a Jordy Knoren shot over the goal line to stretch the Mustang lead to 5-1. Goupil would add to his strong night just over two minutes later with his second of the evening—again unassisted—that stretched the lead to 6-1.
"I couldn't be more pleased with how we started," said Central Maine head coach Matt Buotte. "We built a huge lead on the back of some relentless forechecking, really good execution of the system. I think we got a little too comfortable after that."
Dartmouth's Joe Signorelli would score twice in the middle frame—both goals set up by Matt Armstrong—to cut the Central Maine lead to 6-3. Just 1:35 after Signorelli's second—a shorthanded goal--Central Maines Pearson would answer with a brace of his own, scoring twice in a 61 second span, seemingly putting the game out of reach at 8-3 with 2:20 to play in the second period.
"We weren't playing well coming into the third period," said Buotte. "We just simply weren't good enough, even though we'd built a good lead. Complacency really crept in to start the third."
Big Green came out with a purpose to start the third, with Scott Crawshaw and Parker Pickett scoring in a 41 second span to cut the Central Maine lead to 8-5 with 15:42 to go. As the hosts built pressure, first year goaltender Anthony Tilelli made save after save to keep Darmouth at bay.
"I was nervous for my first college start," said Tilelli afterward. "The boys helped me clearing pucks in front and letting me see shots, which made it easier for me."
First-year forward Trevor Roche would push the Mustang lead back to four, finishing a Carl Bear feed for his first of the season with 8:01 to play in the final frame. The game seemed out of reach until Dartmouth roared back again, with Paul Woodberry scoring just seven seconds into a power play to trim the lead to three. With 5:03 to go Ty Teodori would pull Big Green to within two, with Armstrong adding his fourth assist of the night on the play.
Darmouth pulled their goaltender with just over two minutes to go but were unable to pull any closer as the final seconds ticked off a 9-7 Central Maine victory. Central Maine went 1-for-2 on the power play while Dartmouth finished at 2-for-5.
"When it came down to the final minutes the boys played great in front of me," added Tilelli. "The boys played hard, letting me see shots and clearing the front of the net which really helped seal the win."
Despite the disappointing performance in the defensive zone, the Mustangs are hoping the win can springboard them as they enter an action-packed month of October that sees the team play six games.
"We were facing a lot of adversity with the 9 p.m. start and the long bus ride," said Roche, who finished with a goal and an assist in his first collegiate game. "We found a way to come together and pull out the win that will hopefully get us rolling. We definitely found out some of our weaknesses. We need to get at in in practice this week and get ready to beat Bentley in the home opener."
The Mustangs will open the home portion of their schedule on Saturday, October 6th when the aforementioned Bentley Falcons travel to Auburn. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. at Norway Savings Bank Arena.