Men’s hockey splits pair of home games

by Sam Stockton | 11/8/15 6:01pm

Men’s hockey opened the weekend with a 7-3 come-from-behind win over Brown University on Friday night before falling 4-2 to Yale University on Saturday in a game which featured a pair of controversial calls in the final minutes.

After trailing by deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 on Friday, the Big Green stormed back to earn its first win of the young season against Brown. First period goals by Brown centermen Mark Naclerio and Davey Middleton gave the Bears a two-goal lead 13:51 into the first period. Minutes after Middleton’s tally, Alex Jasiek ’19 notched his first career goal to cut the Bears lead in half.

Brown winger Alex Brink responded with Brown’s third goal two minutes into the second, but the Bears were unable to generate any offense against the Big Green for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Josh Hartley ’17, Nick Bligh ’16 and Jack Barre ’16 all tallied second-period goals, giving the Big Green a 4-3 edge going into the final period.

The final frame played out similarly to the second as Dartmouth dropped in another three goals in the third period. Barre and Bligh each found the back of the net again, and Brett Patterson ’16 scored at the 13:12 to solidify a 7-3 win. James Kruger ’16 earned the win in net, stopping 21 of 24 Yale shots.

“We had a tough first weekend, getting our legs under us,” right wing Corey Kalk ’18 said. “I thought we really came out not so great, but we battled really hard, came back really well and won the game. We had really good shifts out of everyone, and everyone was going.”

As the team shifted its focus to Yale on Saturday night, it hoped to maintain its momentum on the back of a 7-3 rout.

“We just wanted to kind of build on it, and I thought we did — we played a great game against a really good team,” head coach Bob Gaudet said. “I thought we deserved a much better fate.”

The Big Green came out flying in the first period, out-shooting the Bulldogs 12-5 and earning a 2-0 lead by the end of the period. Barre registered his third goal of the weekend, with an assist from Grant Opperman ’17, just 55 seconds into the game. The Big Green proceeded to kill a pair of Yale power plays without surrendering a single shot.

“We were the better team,” Gaudet said. “We moved the puck, we put pucks to the net and we played with a lot of passion.”

With just over four minutes to play in the period, Troy Crema ’17 tipped a Ryan Bullock ’16 shot past Yale goaltender Alex Lyon. The goal came on the heels of a two-on-one opportunity for Bligh and Jasiek, who had just finished serving a minor for too many men on the ice.

In the second period, the Bulldogs were able to answer the Big Green’s first period offensive outburst with two goals of their own. The first coming on a power play opportunity for Yale after River Rymsha ’18 was sent to the box for cross-checking. With just seconds remaining on the minor penalty, Yale center Stu Wilson pounced on a loose puck and buried it to put the Bulldogs on the board.

Dartmouth netminder Charles Grant ’16 made a series of impressive saves to preserve the Dartmouth lead. He was able to smother a chance without his stick 11:45 into the second and just afterward waffle-boarded aside a chance for Yale winger Cody Learned off an impressive toe drag.

Ten minutes after Wilson’s goal, Yale junior Mike Doherty sent a brilliant cross-ice pass to Chris Izmirlian, who corralled the pass before firing a wrist shot past Grant.

“In the second period, they had a bunch of power plays, and we didn’t really get much,” Gaudet said. “They had us back on our heels a little bit. [It was] a tie game going into the third period, but I thought we had been playing really well.”

The Big Green was unable to convert on a pair of early third-period power play opportunities and soon found themselves shorthanded again. With Bullock in the box, Bulldog center Ryan Hitchcock batted a puck out of the air for a power play goal. The Big Green immediately protested, arguing that the puck had been played by a high stick, and the play was reviewed.

Replays showed that the puck had indeed been hit well above the allowable level, but Eastern College Athletic Conference rules stipulate that a review can only use an overhead camera for replays. Consequently, the officials had no perspective to determine whether Hitchcock’s stick was too high, and the goal was upheld.

“They took a shot, the guy in front deflected it and it went up in the air,” Grant said. “I reached over my head to catch it, and somehow it went in. I guess their guy sticked it in somehow over my head.”

The second controversial call came just moments later. With a little over two minutes to play, Kalk appeared to register the game-tying goal on a puck that bounced off his leg and in. The goal was immediately waived off as the officials ruled Kalk had kicked the puck into the net, and after a lengthy review the call on the ice was confirmed.

“We lost the draw, but we won the battle to the puck,” Kalk said. “[Bligh] shot it out in front, and I got tackled from the defenseman, no kicking motion, and it went off my leg and in. I didn’t even know it hit me until it was in the back of the net. The [referee] made a call, and that’s the call that stays.”

With just under a minute to play, Yale junior Frankie DiChiara added an empty-net goal to seal a 4-2 Bulldog victory.

“Just a couple bounces that went their way late in the game and also in the second period,” Grant said. “Hockey is a game of bounces — most coaches will tell you that — and the bounces just didn’t go our way tonight.”

The Big Green felt it deserved a better result than the 4-2 defeat.

“We didn’t get the breaks tonight,” Gaudet said. “I thought we played very well in the third. It was a couple of really controversial calls at the end that can go either way, and both of them went against us. You have to be persistent and persevere, and I thought we fought right down to the final buzzer.”

Beyond the two controversial reviewed goals, the game saw a tremendous disparity in penalty calls. On Saturday, Yale was awarded seven power plays compared to Dartmouth’s two.

“We had to wear out some of our guys killing penalties, and some of our guys who don’t kill penalties don’t get on the ice very much, so some of our offensive guys were sitting,” Gaudet said. “Some guys who don’t kill penalties were sitting for long stretches. The flow of the game really changes with the amount of penalty calls. We don’t have the flow there for our offensive guys. I’d much rather play a five-on-five game.”

Despite the tough loss, the team remains confident moving forward.

“I thought we had a lot of good bright spots, and I think we look good,” Kalk said. “We’ve been playing really well, the goaltending has been great and young defensemen have been playing great. Everyone has been chipping in, and I think we’re going to have a good season.”

The Big Green will begin a seven-game road trip next weekend with games against Princeton and Quinnipiac Universities. The team will not play at Thompson Arena again until a Jan. 2 date with Robert Morris University in the annual Ledyard Classic.

Correction appended: Nov. 9, 2015

The headline has been changed from "wins pair of home games" to "splits pair of home games."