Late Strike Pushes Dartmouth Past Men’s Hockey, 2-1

Jimmy Vesey netted Harvard's goal Saturday against Dartmouth (Gil Talbot).

In a physical battle between Ivy League rivals, the Dartmouth Big Green found a marker late in the third period, downing the Harvard men's hockey team, 2-1, Saturday at Thompson Arena. The win is Dartmouth's (1-8-0, 1-6-0) first of the season, while Harvard slips to 4-6-1 and 2-5-1 in ECAC action.  

With the score tied 1-1 and less than three minutes to play in the game, the Big Green found its second goal of the game, deflating the Crimson, which had a number of good looks just before. The counter attack started at the top left of the Harvard zone and ended when team point-leader Eric Neiley tucked home a loose rebound on the back door with 2:41 to play. Harvard pulled its goalie with under a minute to play, but could not find the equalizer with the extra skater.

The hits were plentiful through the opening 20 minutes, as both teams exhibited physical play through the neutral zone. Harvard goalie Raphael Girard made three poised stops in the opening minutes before Kyle Criscuolo put a shot on Dartmouth's Charles Grant at the other end of the ice. Harvard's  best chance of the period came with 4:32 gone, when Brian Hart took a Dartmouth clearing attempt off his body and charged into the home zone on a breakaway. Hart attempted to go five-hole but the sophomore goalie guessed correctly, freezing the puck on the one-on-one.

The Crimson had the first look at a power play exactly 10 minutes in, and while Jimmy Vesey came close on a short-range suff attempt from the left pipe, the hosts tallied a number of clears the length of the ice to kill the threat. Both teams took penalties late in the first, but neither could string together the passes for the game's first goal.

The physicality mounted at the start of the second and the Crimson did well to increase the pressure in the Dartmouth zone. Harvard's forecheck, a strength through the game, helped the guests get on the board with 9:47 on the clock. Sean Malone intercepted a pass along the back boards behind the Dartmouth net and flung a pass to a charging Jimmy Vesey, who one-timed the puck past Grant for a 1-0 lead.

Dartmouth responded minutes later, knotting the game at 1-1 on a goal from Grant Opperman, who stuffed home a close-range rebound through a crowd in front of the net. The Crimson got one minute of power play at the end of the period, and despite putting a handful of pucks on net, entered the second intermission still deadlocked at 1-1.

A flurry of shots came at the Harvard net to open the final frame, with Girard turning aside five good-looking pucks in the span of a minute. The Dartmouth pressure paid off closer to the midway point of the period, when Harvard got booked for a slash, putting the guests on the power play. Girard made a big save on a one-timer from Tyler Sikura at 9:44, freezing the puck on a back-door look. With 25 seconds remaining on the Harvard penalty, Dartmouth took a penalty of its own to put the Crimson on the man-advantage. The Big Green penalty kill was up to the task, however, keeping the Crimson off the scoreboard.   

Harvard continues its Ivy road swing in its next two games, traveling to Brown Friday and Yale Saturday for a pair of 7 p.m., games.