Men's hockey season ends with playoff sweep at Yale

by Jonathan Katzman | 3/6/17 9:49pm

After dropping a 3-2 overtime heartbreaker at Yale University on Saturday, the men’s hockey team was eliminated from the Eastern College Athletic Conference. With the loss, the Big Green ended its season 10-18-3, while the Bulldogs avenged last year’s ECAC defeat to Dartmouth and moved on to the quarterfinal round.

The series got off to a tough start for the Green and White after Yale took the first game 6-1 on Friday evening — its third victory over Dartmouth this season.

“What changed the game was the power play on which Yale scored its third goal,” men’s hockey head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 said. “It was definitely not a 6-1 game. We got good goaltending tonight from [Devin Buffalo ’18], but we left some people open and didn’t do a few things well enough.”

Dartmouth played like a team fighting to save its season and outshot Yale 7-1 through the first seven minutes, but the Bulldogs got on the board first when Joe Snively banged home a one-timer 10:01 into the opening period. Mike Doherty added Yale’s second of the evening 13:52 through the second period on a rebound from Ted Hart’s breakaway shot. Despite making 25 saves and shutting the door on numerous breakaway opportunities, Buffalo was lifted for Adrian Clark ’20 after Yale’s fifth goal. Buffalo’s Bulldog counterpart, Sam Tucker, made 24 stops to pick up the win.

Corey Kalk ’18 got the Big Green on the board with 2:54 remaining in the second period, beating Tucker high glove-side to make it a one-goal game. From that point, the ice appeared to tilt in favor of the Bulldogs. Yale used a strong power play and forecheck to score two more in the final 3:01 of the second period. John Hayden and Mitchell Smith added goals for Yale in the third to extend the lead to five.

Yale outshot Dartmouth 32-25 in Game 1 and finished 2-for-5 on the power play, while Dartmouth’s power play unit finished 0-for-4.

On Saturday evenng, Dartmouth started strong again, and this time, the team capitalized on its opportunities. Cam Strong ’20 put the Green and White on the board just 1:19 into the game on Dartmouth’s first shot of the evening, one of 16 it took in the first period. A few more bounces the Big Green’s way could have put the visitors up multiple goals heading into the first intermission, as both Strong and Ryan Blankemeier ’20 both got pucks past Tucker only to see their attempts carom off the post.

Doherty continued his strong play, responding for the Bulldogs on the power play 3:25 into the second. The score would not stay tied for long. During a cycle of offensive possession deep in the Yale zone, Shane Sellar ’20 found Josh Hartley ’17, who fired and had his shot deflected by Grant Opperman ’17 past Tucker. The Big Green entered the third with a 2-1 lead thanks to Buffalo’s nine-save effort in the period, anchored by a stick save on Mitchell Smith’s breakaway attempt.

Dartmouth’s penalty kill unit held its own to kill of a Yale man advantage when Connor Yau ’19 was sent to the box nearly halfway through the final stanza for hooking. Then Doherty tied the game at two with just over seven minutes to play, as he beat Buffalo low glove-side for the equalizer.

The drama continued in the final minute of play after Buffalo lost his stick during a scrum in front and the puck trickled out to Doherty. Doherty’s chance to play the hero slipped away as the senior from Reading, Massachusetts watched his slap shot connect with the post and deflect right to Buffalo, who covered it up. And so the game headed to overtime, where the Big Green sought to see its season live on for one more game.

Yale exhibited complete control in the Dartmouth end for the first five minutes of the extra period before the Big Green found its step and forced Tucker to be active. Opperman nearly had the winner on a rebound halfway through the period, but Tucker somehow ended up on top of the puck. Just as it seemed Dartmouth had found its footing, Bulldog forward Andrew Gaus found the back of the net with 6:27 remaining. Doherty’s cross-ice pass somehow found Gaus in the slot before the sophomore’s shot ricocheted off a Dartmouth defenseman and trickled past Buffalo.

“I am disappointed for the guys because I thought it was one of the more complete games we played during the season, and now we do not get to play anymore,” Gaudet said. “We did everything right except score the winner. I am so proud of the senior leadership that was shown and that we played the game the right way.”