Just Like That, a Win for Big Green

Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, March 02, 2018

Hanover — You need talent, grit and luck in the playoffs and the Dartmouth men’s hockey team got some of each Friday while defeating St. Lawrence, 2-1, in the opener of the teams’ best-of-three ECAC first-round series at Thompson Arena.

Trailing the last-place Saints by a goal late in the second period, the fifth-seeded Big Green scored twice in 53 seconds, the latter coming when Charlie Michalowski’s laser feed from the left corner struck the skate blade of teammate Kevan Killistoff and caromed 90 degrees past goaltender Arthur Brey. The hosts were outshooting SLU nearly 2-to-1, and the tallies had a just feeling.

“It was a savvy play by a veteran player,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, whose team can advance to a best-of-three quarterfinal matchup at Harvard with a victory tonight. “They tied up (Kilistoff’s) stick, and he was smart enough to keep his skate there.”

Late action added spice for tonight’s Game 2. St. Lawrence had pulled Brey for an extra attacker and with 10 seconds remaining, a shot struck Dartmouth goaltender Devin Buffalo and flipped backward, rolling along the ridge of his helmet. The puck landed in the blue paint behind him, but the senior covered it just in time.

“I think everyone in the building’s heart jumped,” said Dartmouth forward Will Graber, who assisted on his team’s first goal. “It was a harmless-looking play at first that could have been huge.”

The subsequent faceoff was knocked the length of the ice, dug out of the corner and thrown in front. Graber fired it into the unguarded net several seconds after the final horn, a clear violation of the sport’s unwritten code.

Various Saints angrily swarmed Graber, who wound up backskating at the top of the right circle, no stick in his hands and his hands upraised, fingers wiggling in the international gesture for come and get some. Meanwhile, his stick was thrown into the stands by an opponent.

“I was already in the process of shooting, so I just let it go,” said Graber, noting that he would have held up if Brey, a former teammate, had been in net. “I didn’t think it was going to be that big a deal. They blew it out of proportion.”

You can’t blame the Saints for being testy. St. Lawrence has lost 10 one-goal games this winter, eight of them during the second half of the slate and two of them last weekend. SLU finished in the ECAC’s top four each of the past three seasons, so winding up 12th and last has to be a serious blow to the program’s pride.

“The way we’ve lost games is a story in itself, and it’s heart-wrenching,” said second-year Saints coach Mark Morris, who previously guided Clarkson and the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a group that’s ever contended with such tough luck.”

SLU actually got a nice bounce on its goal, which came nine minutes before the second intermission. A centering feed from the left corner caromed off the skate of a Dartmouth defender and onto Mike Marnell’s stick. The senior scored from 15 feet.

The Big Green produced a 1-1 tie six minutes later when Graber fired a shot off Brey’s chest from the left-side wall. The puck bounced down off the goaltender’s chest, and Shane Sellar fought through an ineffective check to score at the near post.

“They’re a big, strong team, and it’s tough to get into scoring position against them,” Gaudet said. “We’re fighting tooth and nail. It’s just a battle to maximize your time in the offensive end.”

Notes: St. Lawrence fell to 7-26-2 while Dartmouth improved to 14-14-2. … The game featured only two penalties, and Dartmouth held a 32-26 shot advantage. … The Big Green swept the teams’ regular-season series for the first time since 2010-11. … Dartmouth’s scratches included Tim Shoup, out with an injury that may be healed if the Big Green were to advance to play at Harvard in the next round. … Morris was cleared of wrongdoing last month after an independent investigation following allegations earlier in the season that included threats toward players, verbal and emotional abuse and forcing competitors to play while injured. There were also allegations that Morris ran practices and video sessions longer than permitted by NCAA limits. … Season-ticket holders renewing their ducats for next winter will receive a set of pint glasses with the Dartmouth logo. … St. Lawrence players scratched for the game and watching from their team’s runway at the bottom of section 15 made deals with youngsters during the second period. The going rate was one Saints logo puck for a churro dessert stick, fetched from the concession stand.

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