Ice hockey teams hope to exceed expectations this winter

by Becky Brownell | 10/23/17 2:15am

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by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth

Hockey season is returning to Hanover. Women’s ice hockey kicked off this past weekend, while the men begin play this coming weekend. 

Both teams have two preseason games under their belt. The men had a strong preseason start with a 2-1 win against the University of Windsor on Oct. 8 at Thompson Arena. Despite dropping its latest exhibition game with a 3-0 loss to the United States National Team U-18s, men’s hockey head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 is impressed by the team’s preseason performance and training. 

“I thought the guys played really well in the Windsor game with that close 2-1 win,” Gaudet said. “Our team has really done a great job of preparing for the season this fall. I’ve seen a lot of physical and emotional maturity from this team.”

The team enters the 2017-18 season ranked ninth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference by both the media and coaches, a year after finishing ninth in the league standings. A year after taking 11 first-years, the Big Green had a weaker 2016-17 season (10-18-3) than 2015-16 (18-16-1). 

Alternate captain Corey Kalk ’18, fresh off his strongest collegiate season as the team’s second best scorer with a career high 11 goals and 12 assists, is enthusiastic about the team’s growth from last season.

“Last season was a bit of a rebuilding year with such a young team,” Kalk said. “But there’s a lot more experience on the team this year, and I think we have a good chance at the Ivy League championship and ECACs.”

The team lost forward Troy Crema ’17 to graduation. Crema, who was named First Team All-Ivy League and led the team with 17 goals and 12 assists, recently signed with the Orlando Solar Bears in the ECHL. However, Kalk looks to take the helm on the attack. Will Graber ’20, who led the team with 14 assists last season, and Cam Strong ’20, who put up 10 goals in his first year for the Big Green, figure to provide consistent support on offense.

Connor Yau ’19 returns as the team’s top defensemen, which included 11 assists last year. Cameron Roth ’19, who contributed two goals and six assists last season, should also be a major force on defense. The team returns all three of its goaltenders from last season. Devin Buffalo ’18, who led the team with 1,621 minutes in goal, figures to start for the Big Green in the net. Adrian Clark ’20 and Dean Shatzer ’20 will also be in the hunt for playing time throughout the season.

The team is looking forward to key matchups against Ivy League opponents, including Yale University and Harvard University. Dartmouth faces off against the Crimson in its second game of the season on Sunday, Oct. 29 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Harvard is one of our biggest rivals,” alternate captain Tim Shoup ’18 said. “It’ll be a huge game for us, like all the Ivy games are, and we’re incredibly excited to get the season started.”

The team is gearing up to play the College of the Holy Cross in its season opener on Friday, Oct. 27, away in Worcester, Massachusetts, before heading to Cambridge on Sunday.

The women’s ice hockey team, ranked No. 10 in ECAC polls, kicked off its season this weekend with two tough losses, including 4-1 loss to Harvard on Friday, Oct. 20 and a 6-1 loss to the University of New Hampshire on Sunday. Despite the slow start, the women’s team is optimistic about the upcoming season. 

“It’s really exciting to get the season started, and we saw some great effort in the preseason games,” alternate captain Morgan Turner ’18  said. “I really think we have a chance at Ivies and it’s definitely something our team could accomplish.”  

The Big Green had a mixed preseason performance, going 1-1 overall. The team took a tough 7-2 loss to McGill University, but picked up a win against Holy Cross in a dramatic 3-2 overtime win on Oct. 13. Cecilia Lopez ’20 scored two goals on the day, including the game winner just 37 seconds into overtime. 

“The preseason was a good indicator of what we need to work on, especially with the McGill game,” captain Hailey Noronha ’18 said. “But we also saw some great things out there too with that awesome win against Holy Cross.”

The women’s team has undergone some dramatic changes this season. The team graduated seven seniors last year and more than half of the team is made up of underclassmen, a much younger squad in comparison to recent years. 

“Graduating those seniors was a tough loss for the team, but the freshmen have been doing a great job of filling in their roles and working hard,” Turner said. 

There has also been a dramatic change in leadership as well with head coach Laura Schuler temporarily stepping down to coach the Canadian women’s national team for the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Former St. Lawrence University men’s hockey head coach Joe Marsh has stepped in as the Big Green’s interim head coach, the team’s third coach in three years. 

The players are excited to work with Marsh, who brings a wealth of experience to the Big Green. Before coming to Dartmouth, Marsh served as head coach for St. Lawrence’s men’s hockey team for 27 years, winning two regular season ECAC hockey titles and five tournament championships, while receiving awards such as the National Coach of the Year in 1989 and 2000. 

“We absolutely love working with Marsh, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have him,” alternate captain Caroline Shaunessy ’19 said. “He knows how to push us and he’s a fantastic coach.”

With a seemingly smooth transition, Marsh is enthusiastic about the team’s prospects. 

“It’s been fabulous working with these incredible kids and they give me a great effort every day,” he said. “The captains are doing a terrific job and I’m confident we’ll be able to have a great season.”

Forward Christina Rombaut ’20 is the team’s top returning scorer with four goals and five assists last season. Thus far, defender Shaunessy has singlehandedly provided all the team’s goals in the first two games of the season. Shaunessy, Noronha and Bailee Brekke ’19 look to lead the Big Green’s defense.

The preseason games provided the team with good insight into their strengths and weaknesses before the season started.

“The McGill game showed us plenty of things we need to work on, and we need to find ways to improve our control in terms of mental preparation and managing our mistakes,” Marsh said. “But the effort from this team has been great and I’m excited about this season.” 

Both the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, despite having younger rosters, have demonstrated some great preseason play and an eagerness for Ivy League play. 

Both teams play on the road this weekend, with the men traveling to Holy Cross and Harvard and the women going to Quinnipiac University and Princeton University.