CANTON, N.Y. - Four third-period goals lifted the Dartmouth men's hockey team to a 6-3 win over St. Lawrence Friday night at Appleton Arena. The Game 1 victory gives the Big Green a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three ECAC Hockey Tournament first-round between the two teams.
The Big Green (12-14-4) and Saints (14-18-3) entered the final period deadlocked at 2-2 before the visitors matched a season high with four goals in the frame to pull away and take the weekend opener.
Freshman Eric Neiley (Warminster, Pa.) scored the game winner with 8:45 left in the game to break a 3-3 tie and put Dartmouth up by a goal.
Junior Jason Bourgea (South Burlington, Vt.) and sophomore Matt Lindblad (Winnetka, Ill.) added markers over the next four minutes of play to give Dartmouth breathing room to hold on for the win in the series opener.
Senior goaltender Jody O'Neill (Nepean, Ontario) got the nod in goal for Dartmouth after taking the loss last week against the Saints in the season finale in Hanover. O'Neill rebounded with a 30-save performance on this night to pick up his second win of the year against St. Lawrence.
Nick Walsh (Shannonville, Ontario), a senior winger, opened the scoring and gave the Big Green a 1-0 lead with just 52 seconds remaining in the opening period.
All-Ivy Second Team player and senior defender Connor Goggin (Glen, Ellyn, Ill.) started the second with a pretty end-to-end goal just under three minutes into the frame.
After falling behind by two goals, St. Lawrence responded with two tallies just 25 seconds apart from Mark Armstrong and Tommy Thompson at 9:54 and 10:19 of the second to send the teams to the locker rooms knotted at two apiece after 40 minutes.
Getting its first power-play opportunity of the night 2:22 into the third, Doug Jones (Marietta, Ga.) wasted little time in regaining the lead for the Big Green. Jones scored just seven seconds into the man-advantage with a wrist shot through traffic in the high slot to put his team up 3-2.
However, that lead last just 12 seconds as Greg Carey once again pulled the Saints even by burying a one-timer in the slot to quell the visitors' momentum following Jones' go-ahead goal.
Eight and a half minutes went by before Neiley found space over St. Lawrence goaltender Matt Weninger's glove on a centering feed from fellow freshman Tyler Sikura (Aurora, Ontario) in the corner.
The goal silenced the crowd who had become
accustomed to the home team answering the bell after a Dartmouth score. That anticipated
next Saints' goal never came.
Bourgea's second goal of the season came right off an offensive-zone faceoff won by Charlie Mosey to the left of the net. The junior winger collected the puck and put a shot off the inside of Weninger's left skate from an impossible angle along to goal line to give the Big Green the two-goal cushion, a lead they built on three minutes later with Lindblad's fifth of the season.
Dartmouth finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Big Green's penalty kill held the Saints to an 0-for-6 showing in the series opener.
Sikura and team captain Mike Keenan (South Weymouth, Mass.) each finished the night with two assists, while Walsh had a goal and a helper to also earn two points.
Weninger made just 20 saves in his fourth contest of the season against Dartmouth, dropping to 1-2-1 against the Big Green in 2011-12.
Game 2 is Saturday night at Appleton Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.