CANTON – Each time St. Lawrence’s season seemed on the brink and it really needed a win, the Saints came through.
They’ll need to do it again after losing steam in the third period and dropping their ECAC Hockey Tournament first-round series-opener to Dartmouth, 6-3, on Friday at Appleton Arena.
The Big Green (12-14-4 overall) can advance to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season with a win today.
“It’s a game of ups and downs,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “We just had to stay with it. The guys pulled together and played hard against a really good hockey team.”
Dartmouth netted three unanswered goals in the final 10 minutes and scored four times in the third period to finally end a pesky St. Lawrence (14-18-3) team that would not easily surrender.
“They keep it simple over there and work hard,” St. Lawrence associate head coach Mike Hurlbut said. “They took it to us.”
Eric Neiley started the spurt for Dartmouth (12-14-4 overall) with a goal at 11 minutes, 15 seconds of the third for a 4-3 edge.
But it was Jason Bourgea’s goal less than two minutes later that ultimately ended St. Lawrence’s chances. It was only his second goal of the year and his first non-empty-netter of his career.
“Coach always says to fire it on net and good things happen,” Bourgea said. “It’s certainly good to get that one under my belt and it came at a great time.”
Matt Lindblad capped the run with the game’s final score at 15:21 of the third.
St. Lawrence had three chances on the power play in the third to kill Dartmouth’s momentum. But the Saints couldn’t find a response. They went 0-for-6 on the man-advantage in the game.
“We’ll watching video and see what we need to fix,” said SLU’s Kyle Flanagan, who had an assist in the game and reached 99 career points.
“We thought we had some pretty good chances and it was a decent power play tonight,” he added. “We even hit a couple posts.”
Dartmouth goalie Jodie O’Neill made 30 saves, including two against Flanagan in the slot.
“He’s a veteran player and he works his tail off every day in practice,” Gaudet said. “I thought he made a few key saves at crucial times in the game.”
Dartmouth started the scoring late in the first period after spending most of the period failing to put shots on net. With just 51.7 seconds left in the opening frame, Paul Lee sent a pass through the crease to Nick Walsh for the score.
The Big Green took less than three minutes into the second to push it to 2-0 on a Connor Goggin score.
But the ever-relentless Saints responded with back-to-back goals only 35 seconds apart. Mark Armstrong displayed some uncharacteristic speed to win a footrace and netted his third of the year to make it 2-1.
Tommy Thompson tied it off an assist from Max Mobley at 10:19. Weninger seven saves in the period to keep it tied heading to frantic third. He finished with 20 saves.
“We had a great response in the second period,” Hurlbut said. “Going into the third, we were in pretty good shape.”
Dartmouth’s power play, which came in at little more than 17-percent efficiency, generated a goal at 2:29 of the third to retake the lead at 3-2.
Greg Carey responded only 12 seconds later to knot it again before Dartmouth took over.
The Big Green has not won a road playoff series in more than a decade.
“They ratcheted up their intensity and we didn’t quite get our desperation level high enough,” Hurlbut said. “Tomorrow we expect that to be there.”