Saints fall to Dartmouth, but clinch home ice in 1st round
While Dartmouth ended a four-game Saint win streak with a 3-2 win at Appleton Arena on Saturday night and put a little bit of a damper on the Saints' senior night, a combination of other events guarantee more hockey at Appleton Arena this season as the Saints clinched at least a first round home ice series with two games left in the regular season.
Dartmouth freshman wing Tim O'Brien scored a pair of goals and classmate Charles Grant made 11 of his 25 saves in the third period as the Big Green skated totheir 3-2 win, the sixth straight for Dartmouth over the Saints in Appleton including last year's playoff sweep.Dartmouth, ranked 19th nationally, improves to 13-10-4 overall and 9-8-3 in league play. The Saints, who lost for just the second time in their last 12 games, are now 16-12-4 and 9-7-4 overall, and both the Saints and the Big Green are in the running for top four finishes and first-round byes depending upon results next weekend.
Neither team scored in an end-to-end first period as goaltenders Matt Weninger of SLU and Grant made some big saves to keep it a scoreless game. SLU jumped on the board first when junior Greg Carey, who leads the nation in goals scored, put away his 25th of the year on a two-man advantage power play from Justin Baker and George Hughes 1:03 into the second, but O'Brien brought Dartmouth back to take a lead.
He scored his first of the game and fourth of the season at 9:13, putting the puck away after a flurry of shots at Weninger and then made it a 2-1 game at 17:36 as he came down the wing and used a screen, putting the puck inside the far post.
Senior captain Mike Keenan gave Dartmouth a 3-1 lead 3:46 into the third period on a shot from the center point which went in off the crossbar, and while the Saints got one back when junior defenseman Riley Austin scored his second of the year from the top of the faceoff circle at 8:54, the Saints couldn't get another shot past Grant who made eight of his 11 final period saves in the last nine minutes of the game.
Weninger, who became the Saints' all-time saves leader in a win over Harvard on Friday, finished with 37 saves for the Saints who were outshot 40-27 including 30-15 through two periods. The Saint junior now has 2481 saves in 92 career games, surpassing the previous record of 2,224 held by Mike McKenna, who played from 2001-05. Weninger has played all but 42 minutes in the first 32 games this season.