ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — For Dartmouth, it was a welcome change that came a bit too late.
After going 0-for-5 on the power play in a 3-0 loss to Cornell Friday, the Big Green produced three goals while on the man advantage to help them to a 5-3 win over Colgate in the consolation game of the ECAC tournament Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall.
While they’ll surely take the win, Dartmouth’s NCAA tournament plans were already hanging in the balance before they even took to the ice.
“What we wanted to do tonight was give the selection committee something to think about,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said . “I’m not going to lie to the guys; I know it’s extremely slim. We’ve been in this position three times in the last few years and playing five fewer games as an Ivy League school is a big thing for us. We’d be a great representative for our conference, but it’s in other people’s hands.”
Up 3-1 in the second period after Rob Smith poked in Kyle Reed’s initial shot from deep along the left boards at 2:41, Dartmouth took three penalties in just over two minutes to set Colgate up with a chance to jump back in.
Joe Stejskal sent the Raiders’ Brian Day sprawling to the ice with a hit that earned him five minute major and a game misconduct at 8:21, while also giving Colgate 1:42 of five-on-three hockey.
After weathering several short-handed rushes by Dartmouth, including one while down two skaters, the Raiders finally converted in the waning seconds of Stejskal’s major when Kurtis Bartliff took the puck toward the net from the end boards amidst traffic and found a wide open Francois Brisebois camped in the slot, who beat James Mello (20 saves) to make it 3-2 at 12:57.
However, the Big Green restored the two-goal lead at 15:49, converting on the tail end of their first power play of the period when Scott Fleming hit Adam Estoclet with a pass from behind the net that the senior ripped past Mihalik.
“It’s going to be tough,” Mello said of waiting for the selection announcement tomorrow morning. “Especially coming so close and the thought of it coming down to one game; it’s going to be a tough bus ride home.”
A largely stagnant opening period ended with Dartmouth cashing in on a pair of its three power-play chances to go up 2-1 after Colgate grabbed the lead at 7:41 when Robbie Bourdon took a Wade Poplawski pass and ripped a shot from the right faceoff circle that clanged off the post and behind James Mello.
Dartmouth (19-12-3) responded with a pair of goals while on the power play, tying it on Connor Goggin’s blast from the point at 14:35 and going ahead in the closing seconds when Matt Lindblad swooped in on his own rebound and stuck it past Mihalik to put the Big Green up 2-1 heading into the first break, after a night after being shutout by Cornell despite generating a solid attack against the Big Red.
Dustin Walsh made it 5-2 at 8:51, taking an Eric Robinson pass and deking past Mihalik (29 saves) Bourdon added his second of the game at 16:01 for the Raiders, who finish the season with an overall record of 11-28-3, but made a run as the first No. 12 seed to reach the ECAC championship in the league’s 50 year history.
“I’m going to remember this team just as much as a lot of others simply because of the way we stuck with it and found a way to win,” Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said.