HANOVER, N.H. – Two goals just 53 seconds apart in the second period proved to be the difference in Friday night’s Game 1 victory at Thompson Arena for the Dartmouth men’s hockey team.
The Big Green got goals from Shane Sellar and then another almost immediately after from Kevan Kilistoff to turn a 1-0 deficit in the final minutes of the middle stanza into a 2-1 lead that they would hold on to for the rest of the game.
As it played out, that 1-0 deficit ended up turning into a 1-0 series edge for the Big Green (14-14-2) as they handed the Saints (7-26-2) their sixth-straight loss and their third straight by a single goal.
Dartmouth will look to win the series Saturday night in Game 2 inside Thompson Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
“We worked really all night and so did they (St. Lawrence),” head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 said. “Some night you get the bounces and some nights you don’t. I felt like tonight we got them because we earned them through hard work.
“St. Lawrence is a good team with a good coach, so we know they will come back and be ready tomorrow night,” Gaudet continued. “We have to be ready for a battle because the second game is always the hardest to win.”
SLU’s Arthur Brey and Dartmouth senior netminder Devin Buffalo both were strong all night as it seemed like a goaltending duel. Brey made 30 saves, while Buffalo needed to make 25 in earning his first postseason victory.
Buffalo’s last stop was his most acrobatic and heart stopping for everyone in the arena, be they fans, players or coaches. A shot on goal from center ice hit Buffalo in the chest, bounced into the air, landed on his head and rolled down off his back. The senior netminder managed to find the puck, dive back into the crease and keep it from crossing the goal line with 12.3 seconds remaining.
Kilistoff’s tally with just 1:40 remaining in the second period might’ve ended up being the game-winning goal, but, arguably, his best play was beating out the icing that followed the acrobatic save, allowing the final seconds to tick away in the Saints’ end rather than have another defensive zone faceoff.
The junior captain only had one previous postseason tally, the game winner in a 2-1 victory in Game 2 of a quarterfinal series at Yale during his freshman season. That marker proved to be the difference in Dartmouth’s sweep of the Bulldogs and a berth in Lake Placid.
This most recent marker was the result of cycling from his linemates Daniel Warpecha and Charley Michalowski with the latter skating around the entire offensive zone before his centering feed banked off Kilistoff’s right stake at the top of the crease.
The Sellar goal that came a minute before was the sophomore’s team-leading 11th of the season. The two other members of ‘The Timber Line’ started the play with Quin Foreman gloving down a clearing attempt and passing to Will Graber for the initial shot. Whether it was stopped by Brey or deflected by a stick at the top of the crease remains unclear, but the puck just seemed to stop in front of Sellar for the rebound goal and his first postseason score.
The Saints got on the board first thanks to a loose puck on the stick of Mike Marnell just over the midway point of the second, pushing a centering feed into the net for the game’s first score.
Power plays were at a premium as each team was called for just one penalty and neither managing to score on their man-advantage.
Dartmouth will look to secure a spot in this year’s quarterfinals with one more win. Game 2 is Saturday night, while a possible Game 3 would be Sunday at 5 p.m. were the Saints to come away with a win tomorrow night to even the series.
🎥: Missed tonight's game? Catch the highlights of Dartmouth's exciting 2-1 Game 1 victory! pic.twitter.com/Ots1cuGe5a— Dartmouth Hockey (@Dartmouth_MIH) March 3, 2018