Senior goaltender Merrick Madsen made 20 saves to help Harvard earn the series clinching win against Dartmouth. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Junior forward Ryan Donato notched his fifth career hat trick and senior goaltender Merrick Madsen made 20 saves to lead Harvard men's ice hockey (15-13-4) to a 4-2 win over Dartmouth (16-17-2) in Game 3 of the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals at Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
With the win, Harvard clinched the series against the Big Green and advanced to Lake Placid, the site of ECAC Hockey championship weekend, for the fourth consecutive year. Harvard will play No. 3 seed Clarkson at historic Herb Brooks Arena next Friday (March 16) at 7:30 p.m.
Sophomore defenseman Adam Fox added a goal and an assist for the Crimson, which won a three-game series against the Big Green for the first time.
Harvard outshot Dartmouth 29-22 for the game, and held the Big Green scoreless on three power play chances.
The Big Green had the early momentum after jumping out to a 1-0 lead at 4:43 of the opening period, but the Crimson responded on its first power play opportunity of the night. Fox fed Donato for a one-timer from the right circle that beat Dartmouth goalie Devin Buffalo (25 saves) on the short side to make it 1-1 at 11:41.
Madsen made an incredible stop on Shane Sellar's shot from a wide angle minutes later, with puck taking a carom off Madsen's back before the senior goaltender squeezed it against the post to make the save.
Donato put Harvard ahead with his 25th goal of the season midway through the second period. A neutral zone turnover by Dartmouth led to a 2-on-2 rush with Michael Floodstrand feeding Donato in the slot for a chance. Donato's initial shot trickled under Buffalo, and he poked in his own rebound at 8:03 to give Harvard its first lead.
A key penalty kill midway through the third period with the Crimson holding a 2-1 lead turned into a Harvard goal, as Fox skated in from the neutral zone and beat Buffalo from a wide angle at 9:29.
Then Donato completed his hat trick on one of his best goals of the season, skating end to end, losing his glove, and still finding a way to get the puck past Buffalo at 13:16.
Dartmouth added a late goal at 16:17, but the Crimson survived the remaining Big Green chances.
• Junior forward Ryan Donato (60 goals, 42 assists) recorded his 100th career point with his power play goal in the first period. He is the 32nd 100-point scorer in program history and the first since Tyler Moy (2017) to reach that mark. Donato has a new single-season high with 41 points (26 goals, 15 assists) this season.
• Sophomore defenseman Adam Fox (goal, assist) has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his last eight games.
• Harvard has held the opposition scoreless on the power play over the past four games (15-for-15).
• Harvard earned its first best-of-three series win against Dartmouth in program history, playing its third Game 3 against the Big Green all-time (2011, 2013).
• The last time Harvard was the No. 4 seed in the ECAC Hockey Tournament, the Crimson lost in Game 1 of the quarterfinals, then went on to win the Whitelaw Cup in 2006, defeating St. Lawrence in three games, Dartmouth in the semifinal, and Cornell in the championship game for head coach Ted Donato's first conference tournament title. In fact, two of Harvard's 10 ECAC Hockey Tournament titles (1971, 2006) have come as the No. 4 seed.