SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Old habits are dying hard at the ECAC championships.
Following up Harvard’s third victory of the year over Brown in the first semifinal, St. Lawrence beat Dartmouth for the third time in the second semifinal. With the 4-2 win, the No. 4 Saints (28-8-1) have now accounted for half the season’s losses for No. 3 Dartmouth (24-6-2).
As usual, senior Rachel Barrie was outstanding for the Saints in stopping 40 shots. While there might not be any easy explanation for why Dartmouth has never solved the ECAC goalie of the year, Gillian Apps credits the solid team in front of her, and she thinks that Barrie catching right instead of left is also an issue.
The Big Green outshot St. Lawrence 42-19 for the game, but the combination of good special teams and good goaltending from St. Lawrence proved fatal for Dartmouth. Dartmouth earned four of the game’s first five penalties, and St. Lawrence scored power play goals on three of them — two from captain Ricki-Lee Doyle.
“I said before the game and last time we played, I thought the game would come down to mistakes and who could capitalize on them,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak. “St. Lawrence does an awesome job doing that. Penalties are mistakes on our part.”
St. Lawrence’s power play was a source of missed opportunities early in the season, but since the Princeton series in December the Saints have been rolling on special teams.
Doyle netted the first power play goal at 11:59 of the first period when she deflected in a feed from Emilie Berlingue.
Dartmouth’s Tiffany Hagge deflected in a setup for Louise Pietrangelo at 2:45 of the second period to tie it up, but that was short lived as St. Lawrence’s Chelsea Grills netted the lasting lead goal at 4:07 when she put in the puck after Gina Kingsbury brought it out from behind the net. Doyle made the score 3-1 at 7:56 of the period when she scored from the point.
Kingsbury just about iced the game at 4-1 when she put the puck into the open left side of the net past Dartmouth goaltender Steph Cochran, who stopped 15 of 19 shots.
Cherie Piper netted Dartmouth’s final goal on the power play with 2:01 left, but it was too little, too late.
The game was Piper and Apps’ last with Dartmouth this season. They will not play in the Frozen Four due to conflict with a Canadian national team camp for the World Championships.
Their absences are one reason why Dartmouth will have to sweat out its selection for a Frozen Four berth. The Big Green has the advantage in the numbers, but there’s the fear that player availability will be a factor.
“I just don’t know what’s going to happen with that,” Hudak said. “If we had won today, we would have put ourselves in a great position. Now we’ve got to play a waiting game.”
St. Lawrence was the team that seemed most on the bubble prior to today. Now the Saints can rest easier, though their focus has been on winning the ECAC championship. Both St. Lawrence and Harvard will have to heal quickly for tomorrow’s noon championship game.
“Nobody’s going to be tired,” said St. Lawrence coach Paul Flanagan. “If teams are playing for the championship, they will summon the energy. I’m sure they’ll be ready.”
And as for old habits again, Harvard has two wins over the Saints this season and a seven-game unbeaten streak (5-0-2) over the past four seasons.
But two things out of this championship could be entirely new. St. Lawrence has never won an ECAC women’s championship. Harvard with the victory could become the first school to win men’s and women’s ECAC championships in the same season.