Men’s hockey drops two straight to No. 11 Harvard University

by Gayne Kalustian | 11/2/15 6:30pm

The men’s ice hockey team (0-2, 0-2 ECAC) dropped its two season-opening games against no. 11 Harvard University over the weekend, losing 7-0 at home on Saturday night and 5-2 at Harvard on Sunday night. Harvard (2-0, 2-0 ECAC) was powered primarily by a dynamite offense — shaping up to be one of the top packs of forwards in the NCAA — and managed to keep the Big Green offense in check by taking away its centering pass option and keeping Dartmouth off balance in the paint.

On Saturday, Dartmouth struggled in open play and on both the man advantage and disadvantage, failing to kill its three penalties and scoring on none of its power plays. Head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 said he felt he let his team down and took them into a game he hadn’t prepared them for.

“[Harvard was] better than we were in every facet of the game from the drop of the puck,” Gaudet said. “It’s my responsibility to get the guys ready, and they weren’t ready to play…. They got up on us, and we didn’t respond as well as I’d like.”

While facing two back-to-back losses over the weekend wasn’t the outcome anyone on the team would have liked to see, Gaudet said that the goal now is to make sure the team is better prepared next time they take to the ice. The important part, he said, is that this was only two games and the season is a process.

“We have a good group of guys, and I just have to get them better prepared. It’s my responsibility,” he said. “They were outcoached and outplayed, and I got to do a better job.”

The Big Green came out against a competitor with whom they have had some experience as the Crimson returned captain Jimmy Vesey to the ice. The Crimson player took home four points on Saturday night, one coming from a second-period goal. The skill of the forwards on Harvard’s team lead to a damaging assault on even the smallest of mistakes perpetrated by the Big Green, who were faced with an incredibly opportunistic team with incredible transitional play.

The Crimson put themselves on the board early in the game, finding the back of the net just over seven minutes into the game. The Big Green barely had time to rest, though, as Harvard managed to increase their lead to 2-0 less than a minute after the first goal, this time on a player play. Already with a comfortable lead over the Big Green, Harvard would score one additional power play before the end of the period, heading into the second with a 3-0 advantage.

“I don’t think we were nearly as physical as we could have been tonight, and we definitely need to be more physical going forward,” captain Brad Schierhorn ’16 said about Saturday’s game.

Dartmouth’s play rose somewhat as the game progressed, despite the increasing goal differential between the two teams, aided by the change in goalies to Devin Buffalo ’18. Buffalo saw his first NCAA minutes on Saturday night, allowing two goals in nearly 30 minutes of play.

“It’s really good for my confidence to play a top team like Harvard,” Buffalo said. “They have a lot of skilled guys so it was good to just go out there and see the puck and get some experience. They move the puck really well, and it was exciting to play this caliber of players.”

The improved play wasn’t enough to close the gap, though, and Harvard continued to put another three goals on the board during the second period. Only 49 seconds into the third period, the Crimson slotted their seventh, and last, goal of the night, leaving the scoreboard at its final tally of 7-0.

Sunday night’s game saw slightly improved results for the Big Green, though the men still fell to the Crimson 5-2.

On Sunday, Dartmouth jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Nick Bligh ’16 less than seven minutes into the opening period. The poised Crimson offense battled back, however, with two even-strength goals in the first period, giving Harvard the lead just after the opening 15 minutes.

Dartmouth’s defensive effort improved in the second and third periods, and the Big Green only allowed five shots on goal over the final 40 minutes of the game. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, three of those shots beat goalie Charles Grant ’16. Dartmouth notched a second goal in the second period, but could not muster enough offensive firepower to keep up with the Crimson.

The Big Green’s penalty kill was also much improved in Sunday’s game as Dartmouth managed to kill four of Harvard’s six power plays. On its own power play, Dartmouth still failed to execute and did not score on either of its two man-advantage opportunities.

The Big Green next takes the ice at home on Friday night against Brown University and will play again Saturday night against Yale University at Thompson Arena.