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Loss to Bobcats Means No Bye for Big Green

Dartmouth Settles for No. 5 Seed, Home Series in First Round of ECAC Tourney

Hanover — The Dartmouth College men’s hockey team came up short last night in its bid to upset No. 1 Quinnipiac at Thompson Arena, losing 4-1 in the teams’ regular-season finale. As a result, the Big Green finished fifth in the 12-team ECAC and will host 12th-place Harvard in a best-of-three, first-round playoff series beginning Friday night.

Dartmouth beat the Crimson in Hanover and tied the teams’ game in Boston earlier this winter. Dartmouth won a tiebreaker with St. Lawrence to finish fifth and drop the Saints to sixth. The ECAC’s top four finishers earn first-round playoff byes.

Last night, the Bobcats showed why they’re atop the national rankings, capitalizing on a Dartmouth defensive gaffe for the game’s first goal and notching their next two tallies with with powerful, pinpoint shooting. Standout goaltender Eric Hartzell only had to make 21 saves, with his defense allowing few bona fide scoring chances.

“We’d chip the puck into the neutral zone and then we’d have to try and go through literally, five blue jerseys,’’ said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, whose team fell to 13-11-5 overall and 9-9-4 in ECAC play. “They’re a really good, veteran team that moves the puck well with poise and that has some snipers.”

The visitors went up 1-0 four minutes into the second period on a possession that was extended because Dartmouth defenseman Taylor Boldt failed to clear the puck. The junior gloved down the airborne biscuit and dropped it at his feet in the right circle, only to partially fan on his attempt to send the rubber into center ice.

The Bobcats maintained control in the Dartmouth end and gained even more of an advantage when Boldt’s partner, Geoff Ferguson, lost his stick and a glove. Seconds later, Jeremy Langlois scored out of a scramble at the right post.

Quinnipiac (24-5-5, 17-2-3) doubled its lead seven minutes later when Jordan Samuels-Thomas ripped off one of the better wrist shots seen at Thompson this winter. The strike came out of the right circle and traveled into the near side of the net, flashing over the glove shoulder of goaltender Charles Grant, who started for a second consecutive night.

Dartmouth cut its deficit to 2-1 with 26 seconds remaining in the second period. Jesse Beamish won a faceoff in the offensive zone, pulling it back to defenseman Rick Pinkston along the boards, from where the sophomore blasted home a slap shot.

The third period mostly belonged to the Bobcats, who scored in the stanza’s 12th and 17th minutes and sent many in an announced crowd of 4,167 heading to the exits.

“We had to play an A-plus game to (win),’’ said Gaudet, whose team won a first-round playoff series at St. Lawrence last season before being eliminated at Cornell a week later. “The guys battled really hard and we got that huge goal at the end of the second period. We tried to take some momentum from that but we couldn’t get the bounces we needed.

Notes: Dartmouth forward Tim O’Brien, who suffered a leg injury Friday against Princeton, is out for the Harvard series and perhaps beyond, Gaudet said. … Colgate finished 11th because of a tiebreaker with 12th-place Harvard. … Honored on Senior Night were defenseman Mike Keenan and forwards Jason Bourgea, Alex Goodship, Dustin Walsh and Mark Goggin.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.