Men's Hockey Closes ECAC Playoff Run With 6-3 Loss to Dartmouth In Deciding Game Three

Men's Hockey Closes ECAC Playoff Run With 6-3 Loss to Dartmouth In Deciding Game Three

Luke Greiner had a pair of goals Sunday against the Big Green (Gil Talbot).

Game Highlights: Game 3 at Dartmouth

Despite ending the first period with a 1-0 lead, the Harvard men's hockey team saw Dartmouth score three goals in the second and three more in the third en route to a 6-3 loss to the Big Green in the final game of the ECAC Championship first round best-of-three series. The Crimson ends its season with a 10-19-3 overall record, while Dartmouth (15-12-3) advances on to play fourth-seeded Union next weekend in the quarterfinals. 

It was clear the teams both had a defensive mindset to start the game as the play was solid in the defensive ends but both offenses struggled to string passes together. Luke Greiner had Harvard's best look early, driving hard with the puck on his backhand, only to be denied by goalie Charles Grant. Harvard netminder Raphael Girard was sharp through the first period, notching six saves in the frame and denying a couple promising chances for the Big Green later in the period.

With less than a minute to play in the period, it was Greiner who made a heads-up play to give the guests a 1-0 lead. Desmond Bergin whipped a puck down low from the blue line, but out of a scrum against the boards, the puck ended up on a Dartmouth stick. The Dartmouth defender flicked the puck behind his own net and Greiner intercepted the pass, weaved to the front of the net and lifted a shot over Grant's glove that hit the underside of the crossbar and went in. The goal came with just 32 seconds to play in the frame and Harvard was sure to secure the 1-0 edge heading into the locker room. 

The defensive mindset shifted quickly towards the offense for the Big Green in the second and the hosts were rewarded with a trio of scores. Just 2:28 into the middle frame, Dartmouth tied the score when Brad Schierhorn battled for a puck hovering around a sprawled-out Girard and inched it across the goal line for the equalizer. A similar play resulted in Dartmouth's go-ahead strike with 6:37 gone in the period, with Tim O'Brien stuffing home a floating rebound just off the Crimson crease. Eric Robinson stretched the lead to 3-1 on a heads-up play just 49 seconds later, swatting a lifted puck out of mid-air and past Girard's glove.

The physicality of the game increased through the latter stages of the second period with the teams getting booked for matching roughing minors. The Crimson ended the period on a power play thanks to a tripping penalty on the Big Green, but a 17-5 shots disadvantage in the stanza saw the Crimson take the 3-1 deficit into the second break.

A fourth Dartmouth goal came just 3:37 into the final period when Nick Bligh converted a Connor Dempsey feed, pushing the Big Green lead to 4-1 and forcing Harvard to insert freshman Peter Traber in goal. The Crimson would not go down without a fight and Greiner cut the lead back two with his second goal of the game four minutes later. Dartmouth looked a bit confused as it approached mid-ice on a broken clearing attempt and Greiner swooped in, stole the puck and fired it on net. While Grant made the initial save, Greiner followed his shot well and put home his own rebound to make it 4-2.

More than seven minutes passed before the next goal came, but it was Dartmouth once again with Dustin Walsh shoving home a short rebound, despite two brilliant saves from Traber immediately before. The Crimson earned a power play with 3:59 showing on the clock and pulled Traber to gain a 6-on-4 advantage. The strategy paid off when Greiner and Alex Fallstrom worked the puck back to Desmond Bergin near the blue line, and the freshman ripped a shot that ricocheted off a Dartmouth defender's hand and past Grant into the net.

That is as close as the Crimson would get, however, as Schierhorn iced the game with an empty-net score to seal the 6-3 win for Dartmouth.