Carroll has won his last eight starts (photo courtesy Steve Babineau).
HANOVER, N.H.—Ryan Carroll made 27 saves and withstood a late flurry by No. 18 Dartmouth, as the Harvard men's hockey team hung on for a 3-2 win in the first game of the Ivy League rivals' ECAC Hockey Championship quarterfinal series Friday night at Thompson Arena.
The victory, Harvard's sixth straight, moved the 10th-seeded Crimson (12-19-1) within one win of a berth in the league semifinals in Atlantic City, N.J. Harvard and third-seeded Dartmouth (16-11-3) will meet again Saturday at 7 p.m.
Alex Killorn, Alex Fallstrom and Michael Del Mauro scored for Harvard, while Michael Biega had two assists and Pier-Olivier Michaud made a game-saving shot block. The Crimson led by one goal after one period and two after two, but James Mello kept the Big Green within striking distance with 28 saves. Dartmouth nearly took advantage with its goalie pulled for an extra attacker but could only cut one goal off the Harvard lead.
The Crimson held a 31-29 edge in shots, was 1 for 2 on the power play and killed all three of Dartmouth's advantages.
A slashing penalty gave the Crimson the first power play, and Killorn gave Harvard the lead after some smooth passing. Danny Biega sent the puck from the left point to brother Michael low on the right. From the low slot, Killorn banged in Michael's feed for his team-leading 15th goal.
Killorn nearly doubled his and Harvard's goal total, but his shot clanked loudly off the left post. Dartmouth picked up its offensive pressure after that, forcing several saves by Carroll. Dartmouth broke through during four-on-four play at the 16:00 mark, when Adam Estoclet knocked—but did not kick—in the puck with his foot on a rush.
Harvard answered after just 75 seconds. Morrison took a pass from Danny Biega, carried into the left side of the zone, curled around and passed back to Ryan Grimshaw at the right point. Fallstrom deflected Grimshaw's shot, and the puck crept through Mello's legs. Dustin Walsh hit the post on the other end, and Harvard held a 2-1 lead and 13-10 shots edge after one period.
Dartmouth earned its first power play in the second period, and as the final seconds of the advantage ticked away, Doug Jones found himself all alone in front of Carroll after a faceoff win. He went to his backhand, but the Crimson senior swallowed the shot with his glove.
Del Mauro doubled the Harvard lead with 73 seconds left in the period. Brendan Rempel fired up ice to Michael Biega, and the senior stopped on a dime, waited and made a right-to-left pass to Del Mauro on the other side of the zone. Harvard's co-captain slapped a one-timer past Mello. Dartmouth owned an 11-9 shots advantage in the second frame.
Harvard continued to build momentum early in the third period, recording the first four shots of the frame. The Big Green made a late push, however, and cut the margin to 3-2 on Scott Fleming's goal with 1:26 showing on the game clock.
The Big Green got the puck back to the offensive end and generated more chances, but Michaud went down to block a Jones shot on the goal line, and Carroll pounced on the puck before Dartmouth could get a rebound chance. The Crimson outshot the Big Green by a 9-8 margin in the final frame.