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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — A pair of early second-period goals, including a power-play tally by Sam Anas, iced a 3-1 win for Quinnipiac over Dartmouth in the early ECAC Hockey semifinal on Friday.
Anas’ tally on the power play, a deflection in the slot off a pass from Tim Clifton just 54 seconds into the power play, put the Bobcats up 2-0, a lead which grew to three about 4 1/2 minutes later on Craig Martin’s first collegiate goal.
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On the importance of winning the semifinal, Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold had a rather dry answer. “You can’t win the championship without winning today, so in that way, it was big,” he said with a laugh. “We’re glad to move on and excited for the championship.”
The early part of the first period was slow in terms of scoring, but a pair of Bobcats power plays provided entertainment. One chance in particular for Quinnipiac was blocked in spectacular fashion by a diving River Rymsha, who lunged across the crease to block the attempt.
Connor Clifton put the Bobcats up 1-0 with a strong net drive, which he finished by deking forehand to backhand around Charles Grant and depositing the puck into the open net with 3:07 remaining in the opening frame. It remained the only goal on the board after 20 minutes.
“That was a big goal,” said Pecknold. “Connor’s really had a great year, and I think it shows that our D corps, how involved they are offensively. I don’t know that stat, but I think we’re two or three in the country in terms of offensive production from our D.”
Quinnipiac went up 2-0 early in the second on a power play goal by Anas, assisted by Clifton. Anas was parked in the slot and Clifton found him with a pass, which he deflected over Grant’s shoulder just 22 seconds into the power play.
“Our assistant coach had the great idea to go for a high tip and Timmy Clifton made a great play, had awesome poise, as he fed the puck through the guy’s stick and put it right on my stick,” said Anas.
Quinnipiac’s third goal was likely the back-breaker for Dartmouth. The Bobcats had two good chances off a net drive denied by Grant, but with the Big Green netminder pushed way out of position, Martin was able to deposit his first collegiate goal from the left faceoff dot.
Entering the third period and holding a 3-0 lead, Quinnipiac needed simply to survive the third period to advance, but as demonstrated by the last time these two teams met, when Dartmouth held a 5-2 lead in the third and ended up losing 7-5, no lead was safe.
Dartmouth continued to pressure the Bobcats and goaltender Michael Garteig, including a frenzy with roughly seven minutes left that saw several chances go just high or wide of the cage, but ultimately it took until there was only 5:03 left in the third for the Big Green to get on the board.
Connor Yau took a centering pass from Carl Hesler and roofed it over Garteig as Yau was falling down.
After the goal, Dartmouth had much more life to its game, but it was too little too late for the Big Green, even with their net empty for the last 2:30. They had a few more chances with the empty net but fell short, ending a strong second half that was highlighted by a three-game series at Colgate and a sweep of Yale.
“You look back at the Colgate series, Don Vaughan’s team played great against us, and then we played a really super team in Yale, a team I think will do some serious damage in the national tournament,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet on the Cinderella-esque run to Lake Placid.
“I’m really proud of the guys, they played really hard. I like the fact that our team progressed, we graduated a lot of guys last year.”
“Quinnipiac played really well,” said Dartmouth sophomore Carl Hesler. “I thought penalties slowed us down, but we came out strong and they did a good job of taking away chances and clogging up the middle.”
“I thought we played well enough to win tonight,” said Pecknold. “I don’t think it was our best game. I think Garteig was great and it was a great team win. One thing about this team is that we find ways to win.”