SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - In an eerily similar fashion to how the 2011-12 season came to an end, the 2012-13 Dartmouth men's hockey campaign appeared to come to its conclusion Saturday night with a 5-2 loss at the hands of Union in game two of the ECAC Hockey Quarterfinals at Messa Rink.
The fifth-seeded Big Green (15-14-5) fell behind 3-0 early in the second period and, despite a shorthanded marker from sophomore Eric Neiley and a late goal from senior Dustin Walsh, were unable to complete the comeback as the fourth-seeded and defending league champion Dutchmen (19-12-5) scored two in the third to finish the two-game sweep.
Last year, Cornell swept Dartmouth in the quarterfinals in Ithaca, scoring three early goals that proved to be the difference.
"The third one hurt us tonight," head coach Bob Gaudet said. "But after that, I told the boys we need to just go out and win each faceoff and each shift and get back in this one. I really thought we battled hard in the face of being down to a very talented Union team and I'm extremely proud of their effort tonight and all season."
On this night, Union had markers from Kevin Sullivan, Kyle Bodie and Shayne Gostisbehere before Neiley netted his eighth of the year, a new career high for the sophomore who had seven as a rookie.
Josh Jooris made it 4-1 with a shot right off the faceoff 11:15 into the third. Walsh cut the deficit to two with 4:47 remaining as he stripped a defender of the puck in the slot and was able to slide a backhander beyond the outstretched pad of Dutchmen netminder Troy Grosenick, his 11th of the season.
Dartmouth freshman Charles Grant was given the start in net on his 21st birthday, but was replaced by junior Cab Morris 4:47 into the second after Gostisbehere put the home team up three. Grant finished the night with 12 saves, while Morris had 13.
Sullivan added his second of the night to seal the win as he deflected a shot from the point with exactly one minute left in regulation while on the power play, Union's only goal of the series on the man-advantage.
Based on the Big Green's current placement in the Pairwise, it appears unlikely they will be earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament and Saturday's defeat was the final contest of the 2012-13 season for the Green.
Finishing the year at 15-14-5, Dartmouth has its ninth winning season under Gaudet.
A bright future remains for the league's youngest team as four of the top five scorers from this year figure to be back in the lineup next season, including Tyler Sikura, who finished with a team-leading 32 points on 12 goals and 20 assists. Juniors Matt Lindblad (10g/18a), Eric Robinson (11g/9a) and Neiley (8g/9a) all will be back in the green and white in 2013-14, along with all three of the team's goalies.