Men’s hockey falters against regional rivals

by Gayne Kalustian | 1/12/15 5:38pm

The Dartmouth men’s ice hockey team took on two local rivals this weekend, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats and the no. 12 University of Vermont Catamounts.

The Big Green would ultimately tie the Wildcats (6-11-2) 2-2 after an overtime period on Friday before dropping its last non-conference match on Sunday afternoon 4-1 to the Catamounts (15-5-1).

The Big Green’s first line was the only line that didn’t fall victim to the shuffle this weekend due to sudden and ongoing illnesses and injuries, head coach Bob Gaudet said.

Back on the ice this Friday was left wing Brandon McNally ’15, his first appearance in the rink since the team took on American International College on Nov. 29.

River Rymsha ’18 came in on Sunday to fill a void for ailing defenseman Rick Pinkston ’15, while Brandon Kirk ’17 remains scratched due to an ongoing back issue.

Kirk’s spot has been worked in part by Josh Hartley ’17. Jesse Beamish ’15 came back on Sunday after being scratched for McNally on Friday when Jack Barre ’16 felt sick before playing UVM.

A five-forward power play unit has emerged in Dartmouth’s game plan in order to generate some more offense and pick up the team’s 13 percent power play conversion.

Having Brett Patterson ’16, who can double as a forward or defenseman, in the back of the unit gives the team more latitude to play up top, Gaudet said, because Patterson can survive a one-on-one or odd-man rush.

Dartmouth opened play this weekend against its intrastate rival, UNH, resulting in the overtime tie. The excitement was broadcasted on NBC Sports Network, which worked out in Dartmouth’s favor when a reviewed offside call was grounds for recalling the Wildcats’ first goal of the game.

Dartmouth’s first goal was scored by left wing Brad Schierhorn ’16, who was hanging around the net during a power play to tap in a shot made by Patterson.

After the UNH goal was called back, the next puck to find a net was on a picturesque diving shot by Barre, assisted by Ryan Bullock ’16 and Carl Hesler ’18, the second point of Hesler’s Dartmouth career.

But, as has been the case for the Big Green several times this season, the third period brought trouble for the leading team, who allowed a goal with less than seven minutes left of play. Dartmouth’s defenseman Hartley was sent to the penalty box for interference, leading to the Wildcats’ only power play goal in Dartmouth’s six penalties.

With two minutes left in the game, the Wildcats called out their goaltender — a risk which paid off for UNH who scored with 40 seconds left in the game.

The Big Green’s viability in the third period will be critical to the team’s success down the stretch, wing Grant Opperman ’17 said.

“I thought we played well,” he said. “They capitalized on their chances and kicked in a backdoor goal with 30 seconds left. We’ve just got to stop that somehow. It’s not a matter of x’s and o’s. We just need to find a way there. We’ve got to be better in the third.”

Able to put the would-have-been win to rest before taking to the ice on Sunday, the Big Green came out hard against the Catamounts, remaining scoreless with UVM through the first period. Dartmouth’s only goal came in the second period at the hands of Tim O’Brien ’16, who knotted the score 1-1.

Scoring against strong defenses is critical to competing against teams like UVM, O’Brien said.

“We just need to get to the dirty areas more,” he said. “It’s really hard ­— easier said than done. They have a really good goalie, and we gotta get in front of him. If he can’t see them, he’s going to have a tough time stopping them. We had a tough time doing that tonight. Their defense played well.”

Vermont dictated the game by controlling the swing of the momentum ­— capitalizing on their first power play, scoring a bounce back goal, following with a goal 13 seconds into the third period and driving in their fourth and final goal in just seconds after a successful penalty kill.

By not allowing Dartmouth to swing the momentum in its favor at any of the critical junctures in the game, the Big Green fell flat through the third.

Maintaining puck possession by controlling the flow on the ice at all times will be a worthy challenge for Dartmouth as the team heads into conference play, Opperman said.

“I think I was out there for a shift when we scored and then they scored however many seconds after,” he said. “I was out there for both events. Not too high, not too low. That’s the motto we’ve got out there. You gotta stay level headed the best you can. It’s not easy, but you’ve gotta try.”

Next up for the Big Green will be St. Lawrence University on Friday, Jan. 16 in Thompson Arena at 7 p.m.