Dartmouth laid claim to the Ivy League hockey championship, with one league contest remaining, as the Woodsmen rubbed salt into the gaping wounds of the Harvard hockey team, 3-2 last night at Walter Brown Arena.
Dartmouth senior Dennis Hughes scored the game-winner at 13:33 of the third period. Hughes jammed the third shot of a Dartmouth flurry past Harvard goalie Giff Duffy. Duffy gallantly repelled two close-range blasts, but the Harvard defense allowed Hughes to pick up his own rebound and beat Duffy from the edge of the crease to make the score 3-1 Dartmouth.
Harvard cut the Dartmouth advantage to 3-2 as stellar freshman Mike Watson connected on his second goal of the game capitalizing on a scramble in front of Big Green goalie Bob Gaudet.
As Gaudet clamped down on the loose puck at the corner of the crease and the referee prepared to whistle the play dead. Watson axed the puck into the goal. The usually stolid, baby-faced Watson crupted into leaping, celebration. Dartmouth unsuccessfully disputed the goal claiming the whistle had blown.
The Crimson attack, which mustered only 23 shots on goal, mounted a final offensive drive as coach Bill Cleary pulled his goaltender for the 11th time this season, with 1:30 left to play. Referee Bill Downing dashed Harvard's hopes when he called defenseman Jim Trainor for a dubious interference penalty at 19:03.
Trainor and Dartmouth's Steve Higgins raced for the puck as it sailed towards the unattended Crimson goal. The hulking Trainor checked the pint-sized Higgins into the cage and the bogus penalty insured the win for the Woodsmen.
Harvard played one of its best body-checking periods of the season in the first stanza as the Crimson countered Dartmouth's precision passing and swarming offense. Dartmouth cooled Harvard's aggressiveness when Chip Bettencourt fired a wrist shot from the slot into the gaping upper left corner.
The Harvard power play evened the score at 19:07 with Watson tucking an across-the-crease Jack Hughes pass past Gaudet. George Hughes and Jack Hughes worked the man-advantage from the left side, drawing the Dartmouth defense, until Hughes' pin-point pass found Watson. Watson is now tied with David Burke for the team lead in goals with 16 a piece.
Dartmouth took a 2-1 advantage in the second period, on Hughes' first tally, as the sloppy Crimson offense managed only six shots on goal in the second frame.
The Harvard goalie, Duffy, suffered his first loss of the season against two wins. The freshman netminder made 32 saves in a standout effort.
Duffy's sturdiness and competitiveness have provided Harvard with much needed consistency in the goal. His .914 saves percentage and 3.00 goals against leads all Harvard goalies.
Harvard faces Yale at New Haven on Saturday. The Crimson seem demoralized and apathetic as this long season draws to an end, but triumph oveche Eli would ease the pain of a season littered with defeats and give the seniors one memory to savor. SCORING First Period: D-Chip Bettencourt (Ric Mellum, Mark Culhane) 15:00: H-Mike Watson (Jack Hughes. George Hughes) 19:07. Second Period: D-Dennis Hughes (Mellum, Culhane) 9:45. Third Period: D-Hughes (Culhane, Bettencourt) 13:33; H-Watson (J. Hughes, Jon Garrity) 17:33. GOAL TENDING Saves: Duffy (H) 32 Gaudet (D)-21
First Period: D-Chip Bettencourt (Ric Mellum, Mark Culhane) 15:00: H-Mike Watson (Jack Hughes. George Hughes) 19:07. Second Period: D-Dennis Hughes (Mellum, Culhane) 9:45. Third Period: D-Hughes (Culhane, Bettencourt) 13:33; H-Watson (J. Hughes, Jon Garrity) 17:33.
Saves: Duffy (H) 32