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Hart’s Late Tally Lifts Men’s Hockey Past Dartmouth, 2-1, In Series Opener

Brian Hart netted the game-winner for the Crimson Friday at Thompson Arena (Gil Talbot).

Video: Highlights From Game 1 vs. Dartmouth

HANOVER, N.H. –
With the game tied at 1-1 late into the third period, freshman Brian Hart made a great play at the opposing blue line and buried his own rebound to power the 12th-seeded Harvard men's hockey team to a 2-1 victory over fifth-seeded Dartmouth in Game 1 of a first round series in the ECAC Hockey Championship. It marks the first time in six games between the Crimson and Big Green that the team to score the game's first goal has gone on to win the contest.

The class of 2016 was immense for the Crimson on the evening as Hart and Desmond Bergin were the goal-scorers. Bergin was playing in his first game since sustaining a leg injury in the Jan. 12 showdown between the Crimson and Big Green. Goalie Raphael Girard was excellent in goal, turning aside 39 shots in the victory, including 18 saves in the third period alone.

With less than three minutes to play in the contest, the Big Green collected the puck in its own zone and looked to get an offensive rush towards the Harvard net. The attempt got hung up right in front of the penalty boxes, however, where Kyle Criscuolo jarred the puck free and tipped it to Marshall Everson going the other way. Everson looked up and saw Hart waiting at the blue line and the rookie deftly lifted the Dartmouth defender's stick in order to receive the pass. Hart charged towards the net and fired a shot towards the far upper corner that Cab Morris blocked, but Hart jumped on the rebound and fired it home before Morris could collect himself.

The goal lit a fire under the Big Green and the hosts were able to pull their goalie for a six-on-five advantage for over a minute. A slew of short-range chances ensued in front of the Crimson net, but Girard stood his ground, flinging pucks away from his crease and securing the 2-1 victory for Harvard.

The Crimson took a 1-0 lead into the final period, but it was Dartmouth that had the better looks throughout most of the frame. Just 2:07 into the stanza, Eric Neiley found some space atop the left faceoff circle and wristed a shot past Girard that clanged off the far post and up the far boards. The Big Green found frame again at the 11:30 mark when Taylor Boldt's rip from the blue line evaded Girard stick-side and banged off the cage before Girard was able to smother the loose puck.

Dartmouth's goal finally came just 13 seconds before the halfway point of the third when Jesse Beamish, who netted the game-winner in Dartmouth's 3-2 victory over the Crimson Jan. 12, stuffed home a puck out of a scrum in front of the Harvard net.

After an uneventful first period, where the teams combined for just 13 shots, the action picked up in the second and the Crimson took advantage. Greg Gozzo gained possession off an offensive-zone faceoff and flicked the puck back to Danny Fick, who was camped out at the blue line along the boards. Fick whipped a pass cross-ice to Desmond Bergin and the rookie blasted a shot through traffic that evaded Morris' glove and found the back of the net at 9:53 of the second.

The Crimson and Big Green will face off again tomorrow night in Game 2 beginning at 7 p.m. In five career first-round playoff series, Harvard is undefeated (4-0) when capturing the first game.