Lady Green falls to UNH for third loss in four games

by John Mitchell | 1/5/06 6:00am

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At 5-7, women's ice hockey has struggled thus far to repeat the success of last year's tremendous 27-win effort.
by EMI ITO / The Dartmouth

Even though UNH dominated the shots on goal category 57-20, the game remained tight through the first two periods. In the third, however, the Wildcats finally pulled away, securing a 4-1 victory.

About halfway through the first period, Dartmouth fell behind 1-0 when netminder Kate Lane '06 could not come up with UNH sophomore Jennifer Hitchcock's shot. Shortly afterwards, however, the Big Green struck back when Caroline Ethier '07 found the net on an assist from Danielle Grundy '05.

While the score at the end of the first period may have been even, the play was not. Lane needed 15 saves in the frame to keep Dartmouth tied, while UNH's junior starting goaltender Melissa Bourdon made only seven.

Dartmouth got off to a sloppy start at the opening of the second period and UNH tried to capitalize. Only 30 seconds into the period UNH had taken control of the puck and loosed a shot through traffic that barely missed wide.

Just two minutes later, Dartmouth again barely avoided falling behind as a UNH wraparound from behind the net passed through the crease but could not find the goal.

The excitement of the opening moments of the second period fired up a crowd composed largely of UNH fans. One group was particularly enthusiastic. The five middle-aged men, wearing UNH jerseys and hats, tried in vain to make up for a lack of creativity with passion and volume. However, not even their trumpet-playing ringleader could inspire the rest of the crowd to join in their demands that the goalies take sips of water amidst chants of "Go, fight, win."

The lack of support from the rest of the crowd did not faze them, and their clamor continued for much of the game, culminating in a chant for the benefit of those unable to read the giant scoreboard in the middle of the rink.

The Wildcats controlled the game for much of the middle section of the period as well. Around eight minutes in, Hitchcock spun off the boards, beating a couple of defenders, but was denied by a Lane glove save. Shortly afterwards, however, New Hampshire Senior Amy McLaughlin scored on a shot from the top of the left face-off circle, putting the Wildcats ahead for good. At that point, UNH led in the shots column 23-10.

The Big Green quickly responded to the goal. After Julia Bronson '09 nicely defended a one-on-one, Dartmouth caught a break as Nicole Ruta '08 was knocked on her back chasing a loose puck behind the UNH defense, resulting in an interference penalty. However, Dartmouth's power play could not convert, and the UNH breakaway that followed the end of the Big Green power play halted Dartmouth's momentum. The period ended with the score 2-1 in favor of the Wildcats.

While Dartmouth entered the third period very much in the game, it did not take long for things to unravel for the Big Green. Just 2:30 into the period, UNH cleared the puck from its defensive end, carried it down the boards and scored a quick goal on a screened shot to Lane's nearside. Dartmouth almost jumped back in the game shortly afterwards, but Bourdon denied Ruta from close range to maintain the Wildcats' two goal advantage.

While UNH's even-strength goal stretched its lead, penalties would prove to be the nail in Dartmouth's coffin. A power play goal near the midway point of the third period left Dartmouth down three goals. Play became a bit chippy from there on out, and a pair of penalties down the stretch provided some insurance for the Wildcats.

Despite the 4-1 defeat, head coach Mark Hudak was not particularly distressed after the game.

"We're still bringing the freshmen along," Hudak said of the members of the program's large recruiting class.

He named the team's transition game and power play, problem spots earlier in the year, as places where he was particularly pleased with the team's improvement.

"We're starting to create some offensive opportunities," said the optimistic coach.