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Fifth-Ranked Friars Skate Past Dartmouth

  • Dartmouth College goaltender Charles Grant fishes the puck out of his net while Providence players celebrate their first goal Sunday. The No. 5 Friars beat the Big Green, 3-2, in the first round of Dartmouth's holiday tournament at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes

    Dartmouth College goaltender Charles Grant fishes the puck out of his net while Providence players celebrate their first goal Sunday. The No. 5 Friars beat the Big Green, 3-2, in the first round of Dartmouth's holiday tournament at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College center Connor Dempsey, right, jostles for position with Providence defenseman Tom Parisi during Sunday's opening round game of the Big Green's holiday tournament. The Friars won, 3-2 at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes

    Dartmouth College center Connor Dempsey, right, jostles for position with Providence defenseman Tom Parisi during Sunday's opening round game of the Big Green's holiday tournament. The Friars won, 3-2 at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College wing Brad Schierhorn watches his shot sail past Providence goaltender Nick Ellis for a 1-1 tie Sunday. The Big Green lost to the Friars, 3-2, in the opening round of Dartmouth's holiday tournament at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes

    Dartmouth College wing Brad Schierhorn watches his shot sail past Providence goaltender Nick Ellis for a 1-1 tie Sunday. The Big Green lost to the Friars, 3-2, in the opening round of Dartmouth's holiday tournament at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College goaltender Charles Grant fishes the puck out of his net while Providence players celebrate their first goal Sunday. The No. 5 Friars beat the Big Green, 3-2, in the first round of Dartmouth's holiday tournament at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes
  • Dartmouth College center Connor Dempsey, right, jostles for position with Providence defenseman Tom Parisi during Sunday's opening round game of the Big Green's holiday tournament. The Friars won, 3-2 at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes
  • Dartmouth College wing Brad Schierhorn watches his shot sail past Providence goaltender Nick Ellis for a 1-1 tie Sunday. The Big Green lost to the Friars, 3-2, in the opening round of Dartmouth's holiday tournament at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Hanover — The members of the Dartmouth College men’s hockey team don’t have the answers you’re looking for. Heck, if they had them, they wouldn’t be 2-11 and stuck in today’s consolation game at their own holiday tournament.

The Big Green wound up there because of its 3-2 loss to No. 5 Providence on Sunday. The result was decided when forward Brad Schierhorn was ejected for elbowing a Friar in the head midway through the third period and Providence scored the winning goal on its ensuing, 5-minute power play. Dartmouth faces No. 16 Northeastern, a 5-2 loser to Air Force in Sunday’s early game.

What has gone wrong with the Big Green during the last 365 days? At this time last winter, the Big Green had just beaten No. 2 New Hampshire and improved its season record to 8-2-2.

A No. 8 national ranking, the highest in program history, sparked excited chatter about the program’s first return to the NCAA tournament since 1980. Parking spaces on side streets around Thompson Arena were virtually impossible to find on game night.

And then … the fall. Since that night, Dartmouth has gone 9-23-3, slumping on paper into one of the worst of NCAA Division I hockey’s 59 teams.

The Big Green’s .154 winning percentage this season is better than only 1-19 Alabama-Huntsville (.050) a program perpetually on the brink of extinction.

Coach Bob Gaudet cites missing players, bad luck and strong opposition for his team’s record. Beyond that, he can’t offer much.

“We played as well tonight as we did (last year against UNH) and maybe better,” said Gaudet, again pointing out last spring’s early jump to pro hockey by scoring star Matt Lindblad and the season-ending injury suffered early this season by power forward Eric Robinson.

“There were games early this season we were outmatched and out of sorts, but the team has played very, very well the last six or eight games. It just hasn’t equated to (victories).”

Dartmouth, playing its first game since Dec. 11, tackled Providence without ailing forwards Troy Crema and Nick Bligh, and with steady, senior defenseman Taylor Boldt playing hurt. Junior center Tyler Sikura, the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons, with 57 points, has six this season, and Gaudet said his captain has also battled injuries.

“You look at our personnel and we’re trying to seamlessly slide guys in, but what’s happened to us is mind-boggling,” Gaudet said. “We keep playing top-20 teams and there are no breaks, but that’s life and you can’t just call a time out.”

Providence (13-2-3) opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Derek Army dashed out of the left corner ahead of defenseman Ryan Bullock, threw a head fake that committed goaltender Charles Grant to the near post, then swung behind the net and jammed the puck inside the far pipe.

Schierhorn produced a 1-1 tie late in the second period when he ripped a shot past Providence goaltender Nick Ellis from the left wing and off a rush, but Army scored again from close range seven minutes into the final stanza.

Charlie Mosey pulled Dartmouth into a 2-2 deadlock with a shot from between the circles three minutes later, but Schierhorn’s elbow to the head of an opponent a minute later sealed his team’s fate. Ross Mauermann’s one-time snap shot from the high slot was a thing of beauty, the junior center burying a feed from the left wall.

“You just didn’t want to give them a 5-minute power play,” Gaudet said. “I thought we could kill it off, but they were obviously going to get some momentum and some opportunities and (Mauermann) made a good play.”

Grant, who was outstanding in making 34 saves, was left with his sixth loss of season and an ice bag on his aching neck after getting run over on the Friars’ second scoring play. The sophomore stopped a third-period penalty shot, which he said was the first he’d ever faced as a netminder.

“It’s kind of been the story for our team, being right there and not getting the bounces,” he said. “Tonight’s disappointing, but it’s a step forward for our team and hopefully we’ll get a big win against Northeastern. It hurts, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

Said Gaudet: “We played an excellent hockey game tonight and we didn’t win. You don’t always get the result you work for but I still come into every game really feeling that we’re going to win.”

Notes: This is the 25th time Dartmouth has hosted its holiday tournament. … The Big Green entered the game allowing 4.08 goals per game, 55th among the 59 NCAA Division I teams. … A strange moment occurred during the third period’s first minute, when Providence defenseman Kyle McKenzie had the blade of one skate pop off. McKenzie fell and got up repeatedly, at first not knowing what had happened. He eventually hobbled to the bench on one leg, pushing himself with his stick, and didn’t miss a shift, thanks to some quick work by the Friars’ equipment manager. … Providence is playing without star goaltender Jon Gillies, who’s currently competing for the U.S. at the World Junior Championships and who beat the Czech Republic, 5-1, during the squad’s opening game in Sweden. … The Friars also played in Dartmouth’s tournament in 1987, 1994 and 2004 and improved to 2-4 at the event.

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