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College Hockey: Dartmouth runs out of gas against Donato, Harvard

Special to the Union Leader

March 11. 2018 8:53PM

BOSTON — Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet had a well-chosen word to describe Harvard’s Ryan Donato: sniper.

And with good reason.

Donato, a U.S. Olympian, registered a hat trick Sunday as the fourth-seeded Crimson defeated the fifth-seeded Big Green, 4-2, in the third and deciding game of an ECAC best-of-three quarterfinal series to advance to the league semifinals next weekend in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“He’s a natural goal scorer,” Gaudet said. “He’s going to be a really good pro player. He’s a sniper. He has a vision and really can shoot the puck. I think he’ll fit right in with the Boston Bruins.

“You really have to be aware when he’s on the ice. But he finds a way.”

Just like in the first period of Friday’s contest, the Big Green dominated play in the earlier going. Harvard had only one shot after seven minutes.

That constant pressure paid off at 4:43 when, after Merrick Madsen (20 saves) blocked a Corey Kalk shot, the puck fell in the crease and Collin Rutherford tapped it into the cage.

But unlike what transpired Friday when Dartmouth increased its lead to 2-0, the Big Green allowed the tying goal after Connor Yau was whistled for high sticking.

Harvard scored a power-play goal at 11:01 when Donato unloaded a slap shot from the right point.

“Fatigue plays a big role in that,” Gaudet of his team’s inability to maintain pressure. “They wear you down. We also played three games last week.

“We’re in (semester) finals. We don’t talk too much about it but it’s an unbelievably stressful time. We wanted to get out of last weekend’s games winning two (against St. Lawrence). We couldn’t. To go to three games in the middle of finals is a really, really tough chore. I’m proud of them. It’s a hard thing but I don’t control it. It’s part of life.”

Dartmouth came within inches of regaining the lead when, at 4:55, a shot deflected off Matt Baker and appeared to slip in between Madsen’s right arm and his body. But after a review, the officials ruled no goal.

Donato struck again at 8:03 of the second. In this case, Dartmouth goalie Devin Buffalo (25 saves) blocked a Michael Floodstrand shot but Donato buried the rebound for a 2-1 lead.

Harvard increasing its lead to 3-1 when Adam Fox snapped home a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle at 9:29. Donato completed his hat trick (for his 26th goal of the season) when he skated in from the right wing, settled a bouncing puck and slid a backhander by Buffalo.

Dartmouth pulled within 4-2 at 16:17 as Kevan Kilistoff deflected in a pass from Quin Foreman.

Gaudet pulled Buffalo with 3:33 left in regulation. And when Harvard’s Adam Baughman went to the box for slashing at 18:05, Dartmouth skated with a 6-on-4 advantage. But Madsen blocked the only two shots on net.

“This team was 2-8-2 in December,” Gaudet said. “At the end of the season they won 16 games.

They grew a lot as a hockey team from the start to finish.”