ITHACA, N.Y. - Cornell's Sean Whitney scored 17:40 into double overtime in Game 1 of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals to end the second-longest game in Dartmouth men's hockey history Friday night at Lynah Rink in favor of the home team, 4-3.
Senior goaltender Jody O'Neill (Nepean, Ontario) made 45 saves in nearly 98 minutes of action, while his counterpart in Cornell's Andy Iles stopped 46 in the epic battle.
The end of this game was in complete contrast to the early going as the Big Red (16-7-7) scored three times in the first, but were held off the scoreboard for the next 79:29 by O'Neill in the Big Green (13-15-4) net.
Sophomore Matt Lindblad (Winnetka, Ill.) was the best skater on the ice for either team as he created numerous chances for the Big Green, assisting on both goals in the first period. Although he finished the game with just three shots, his play helped lead to more scoring chances than any player for either side on the Lynah Rink ice this night.
The first period looked more like a heavyweight fight between two powerful foes as both delivered punishing blows, but not to the body of its opponent, but to the scoreboard as second-seeded Cornell had to hold off the early pressure of ninth-seeded Dartmouth.
Freshman Tyler Sikura (Aurora, Ontario) got his team on the board first, knocking home a rebound on the power play just 2:20 into the game.
Cornell countered with tallies from John Esposito 4:10 apart midway through the period to take a one-goal lead, an advantage that didn't last long as Connor Goggin (Glen, Ellyn, Ill.) buried his own rebound shortly thereafter to tie the game at 2-2. However, with 1:49 left in the opening frame, Dustin Mowrey once again put the home team up a goal with his fifth of the season.
The second frame was a far more conservative period as both teams had settled into a defensive style to combat the other team's attack.
And for the second Friday in a row, Dartmouth's fourth line stepped up to make an impact on the scoresheet. Last week it was junior Jason Bourgea (South Burlington, Vt.) scoring his first-non-empty-net goal of the season in the third to give the Big Green some breathing room. This time the tying goal came from the team's most unlikely offensive hero.
Senior Kyle Schussler (Winnipeg, Manitoba), playing in just the seventh game in four years and the fifth of this season, finished a centering pass from freshman Charlie Mosey (Prior Lake, Minn.) under the crossbar for the first goal of his collegiate career. a sent the puck behind the goal to Mosey, who put a backhanded centering feed into the slot where Schussler one-timed a shot over the outstretched glove of Iles to knot the game at three apiece 12:32 into the middle frame.
The third period produced no goals from either side, but the Big Green controlled the play, outshooting the Big Red, 13-6. Included in that shot total were three in the final minute as the visitors tried to end things in regulation with a flurry of activity that Iles turned aside.
The first overtime period saw back-and-forth, end-to-end plays from the two teams. Scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity came for the forward lines with the two netminders standing on their heads to keep the game moving on into the night.
Dartmouth had several chances to end it off Big Red turnovers in the defensive zone, but there was Iles to answer with save after save.
Cornell countered with intense all-out rushes the other way. But there was O'Neill to answer the call and keep his team alive.
The second overtime continued that trend of both teams playing to win the game, rather than playing not to lose.
After both teams produced 11 shots in the first extra session, the first 17 minutes saw the two battle again, both firing seven pucks at the two goaltenders.
But it was the final shot of the game off the stick of the Big Red's Whitney that found space over the shoulder of O'Neill and under the bar to end this marathon game just short of 100 minutes.
Dartmouth's power play was unable to score after John McCarron was called for charging 12:09 into the fifth period. Despite that, the Big Green seemed to have the momentum in the late stages of the second overtime that looked like it might lead to a winner.
Cornell was 1-for-8 with the man-advantage, while Dartmouth was 2-for-5 on the power play with all three scores coming in the first 20 minutes of play.
A four-overtime game in Game 1 of the 2003 quarterfinals against Colgate is the only game in the history of Dartmouth hockey to go longer than Friday's contest. Despite the Big Green falling to the Raiders that night, they would go on to win the series in three games, something Dartmouth will have to do this weekend to move on in the league's postseason.
The teams will return to action in Game 2 tomorrow night (Saturday) at 7 p.m. from Lynah Rink.