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Beaming With Delight: Dartmouth Edges Harvard to Snap Losing Streak

  • Dartmouth’s Nick Bligh dives to maintain possession of the puck during Dartmouth’s game against Harvard last night at Thompson Arena. (Jeffrey Porter photograph)

    Dartmouth’s Nick Bligh dives to maintain possession of the puck during Dartmouth’s game against Harvard last night at Thompson Arena. (Jeffrey Porter photograph)

  • Dartmouth’s Matt Lindblad fights for control of the puck against Harvard’s Alex Fallstrom, left, and Luke Greiner. (Jeffrey Porter photograph)

    Dartmouth’s Matt Lindblad fights for control of the puck against Harvard’s Alex Fallstrom, left, and Luke Greiner. (Jeffrey Porter photograph)

  • Dartmouth’s Nick Bligh dives to maintain possession of the puck during Dartmouth’s game against Harvard last night at Thompson Arena. (Jeffrey Porter photograph)
  • Dartmouth’s Matt Lindblad fights for control of the puck against Harvard’s Alex Fallstrom, left, and Luke Greiner. (Jeffrey Porter photograph)

Hanover — Jesse Beamish hasn’t had the sophomore season he was hoping for, but the campaign took a turn for the better last night when the forward notched the winning goal during the Dartmouth College men’s hockey team’s 3-2 defeat of Harvard at Thompson Arena. The victory snapped a string of three consecutive losses for the No. 12 Big Green, each coming by a goal.

Battling alongside teammate Charlie Mosey against a pair of Crimson defenders atop the crease, Beamish managed to tip in a center-point blast by Ryan Bullock, who was fed the puck by Tim O’Brien as the Big Green buzzed around the offensive zone.

An announced crowd of 4,381, roughly 100 fans short of an official sellout, erupted when Bullock’s low slap shot entered the cluster of four players in front of Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard before popping into the net behind him. It was the first career game-winner for Beamish, a product of suburban Toronto who missed last season’s stretch run with a hand injury.

Beamish has been sidelined this season as well, but it’s because the coaches designated him a healthy scratch four times in December. He returned for last Saturday’s game, but before last night’s tally, his only other goal this season was an empty-net strike at Brown during the second game.

“It’s something you take as a learning experience and you can’t cry over it,” said Beamish, who’s played 12 games this winter and whose team improved to 9-5-2 overall and 5-3-1 in ECAC play. “I’ve been working on taking tight turns, protecting the puck and shooting while I’m still skating. I’ve come a long way in just the last few weeks.”

Said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet: “It wasn’t like he was hanging his head. He’s been staying after practice to do footwork drills so he can free himself up and get that ridiculously good shot of his to the net. He’s been a great model for some of the freshmen on how to keep battling.”

Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey gave his team a 1-0 lead seven minutes before the first intermission with an amazing rush. The freshman wing, a draft pick of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and a member of the recent U.S. title team at the World Junior Championships, began the play by bursting through traffic in center ice, then around defensemen Geoff Ferguson and Taylor Boldt.

Cutting in from the right circle and across the slot, Vesey finished the play with a chip shot over goaltender Cab Morris’ glove and inside the left post.

Dartmouth answered four minutes into the second period during a bout of 4-on-4 play caused by consecutive facemasking penalties on the Big Green’s Eric Neiley and Harvard’s Vesey.

After Matt Lindblad banged in a Tyler Sikura pass at the right post four minutes into the second period, Dartmouth regained the lead four minutes later. Jack Barre’s attempted centering pass from the left corner struck a defender and caromed into the near circle, from where Nick Bligh quickly whipped it past Girard.

The score moved to 2-2 five minutes into the final stanza on a strange sequence. Harvard (5-8-1, 3-6) staged an odd-man rush over the Dartmouth blue line, Danny Fick unleashing a slap shot from high in the zone. The puck struck a backskating Boldt, who hunched over in an attempt to trap the biscuit in his equipment.

The puck however, dropped behind Boldt and into the low slot, where Petr Placek pounced on it and sent a shot past Morris.

That set the stage for Beamish’s heroics. He elicited a reaction from the crowd earlier in that shift when he ripped a shot over the crossbar after a Mosey faceoff win. Then, while jostling in front of Girard, he anticipated that Bullock would be aiming a shot in his direction.

“He tends to shoot for tip-ins,” Beamish said. “I was tied up with a guy and it was a big scrum, but I was able to get my stick down and Bullock sent a slap-pass to me.”

Gaudet said rebounding from losses to Massachusetts, Quinnipiac and Princeton with last night’s triumph was a big step before heading on the road to Brown and Yale this weekend.

“It’s huge for us,” the coach said. “I don’t think we had our ‘A’ game the previous three games, but they were all winnable and we didn’t, so it becomes a confidence thing. It was nice to get a ‘W’, that’s for sure.”

Notes: Dartmouth is tied with Yale and Union for third in the 12-team ECAC, two points behind Princeton and 10 points behind Quinnipiac. … The Big Green debuted new jerseys, with circular ‘D’ emblems on the solid-green shoulders. … Dartmouth’s scratches included forwards Dustin Walsh (shoulder injury) and Brad Schierhorn and defenseman Nick Lovejoy. … Recently-hired Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon was introduced to the crowd during a second-period stoppage. The college’s new boss was also feted at center court during halftime of the preceding men’s basketball game. ... The Big Green is 8-1 at home this season.

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