CANTON In the heat of the push for playoff positioning, emotions boiled over between Dartmouth College and St. Lawrence University on Saturday night.
Yet it was the Big Green who got the best of the Saints when it counted most by recording a 3-2 ECAC Hockey victory to spoil St. Lawrences senior night before a turnout of 1,759 at Appleton Arena.
Freshman Tim OBrien scored two successive goals in the second period and freshman goalie Charles Grant made 25 saves to lead the charge No. 19-ranked Dartmouth.
It shows how hard we want it, Grant said. Physical play always happens in hockey and at the collegiate level its a little different because we have cages on. But were all still hockey players and this was just an intense game.
In an intense game which included several scrums and some heated jostling in the final seconds, the Big Green held off the Saints in their regular-season home finale.
Absolutely it was intense, said St. Lawrence senior captain Kyle Flanagan, who was in the middle of a tussle in the games final moments and was assessed a double-minor penalty for roughing, as was Dartmouth senior captain Mike Keenan. We dont like to be shoved around, nobody does. It was a good game and sometimes emotions happen like that. It was a good battle out there.
With the loss, St. Lawrence (16-12-4, 9-7-4) slipped into third place in the ECAC as it was passed by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but still clinched home ice for at least the first round of the playoffs.
Its just so close in this league right now, Flanagan said. Weve got to realize that wins are not going to come easy.
Dartmouth (13-10-4, 9-8-3), which rebounded from a 4-0 loss at Clarkson on Friday, moved into a tie for fourth place with Yale.
The top four teams in the league receive a first-round playoff bye.
Were a team thats beaten up, we have a lot of kids out of the lineup, Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. But our kids played very, very hard and really responded well after the loss (Friday). This was a big win for us.
After Keenan scored 3:46 into the third period to provide the Big Green with a 3-1 lead, the Saints showed some fight as junior Riley Austin scored from the top of the faceoff circle at 8:54.
The deficit proved to be too much to overcome for the Saints, who had their four-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in 12 games (8-2-2).
They worked to score and I didnt think that our team worked as hard as it needed to tonight until the end when we got desperate, St. Lawrence coach Greg Carvel said. We battled back and had our chances, but I think our team got what it deserved.
Last weekend we won two games on the road because we deserved to, and this weekend we didnt play very well.
St. Lawrence managed just 15 shots on goal over the first two periods, including only six in the second.
We know we could have played better, Saints assistant captain Jeremy Wick said. We cant be leaving it to the third period all the time and so we know what we have to do to correct some things because these were two points that we should have had.
Matt Weninger made 37 saves for St. Lawrence and is the programs career saves leader. The junior goalie now has 2,481 saves, which eclipses the previous mark of 2,424 held by Mike McKenna (2001-05).
After Greg Carey opened the scoring with a power-play goal 1:03 into the second period with his nation-leading 25th tally to extend his goal streak to 11 games, OBrien struck for two goals to carry a 2-1 advantage into the third.
Following a flurry of shots, the Big Green broke through to tie the game on freshman OBriens slap shot at 9:13.OBrien then scored the go-ahead goal at 17:36 on a drive from just outside the left faceoff circle.
Carey scored on a long-range shot from well out from the slot with 34 seconds left on a Saints two-man advantage.
St. Lawrence concludes its regular season at sixth-place Union on Friday and at RPI on Saturday, both 7 p.m. starts.