Hockey hopes to rebound with wins
The Dartmouth men's hockey team travels to two of the most desolate campuses in the ECAC, and out of the friendly confines of Thompson Arena this weekend as the Big Green prepare for games at Colgate tonight and at Cornell on Saturday night.
In what Coach Roger Demment classified as a trip being, "... right up there with the St. Lawrence and Clarkson one as the toughest of the season..." Dartmouth gets to enjoy a thrilling 16 hours of travel time as it roams the ends of the Earth in upstate New York.
Coming off a disappointing opening ECAC weekend where the Big Green dropped contests to Union and RPI, they will try to rebound this week against two very tough opponents.
Colgate enters the weekend ranked 10th in the nation and standing at 5-1 -- its only loss coming in their season opener against national powerhouse Maine. The Red Raiders are an explosive offensive team, with one of the top players in college hockey, forward Mike Harder. Harder is a top contender for the Hobie Baker Award -- college hockey's equivalent to football's Heisman Trophy.
With this explosive player already out to a fast start with 16 points in six games, and linesmate Dave Debusschere not far behind, it is obvious that the Big Green defense will have its hands full.
Demment wants his team to adopt the Evander Holyfield strategy of slowing down the action, forcing lots of stoppages and getting the opposition out of its killer rhythm early on.
"They are a well balanced team," said Demment, "but they are not superhuman. Their goaltender is very similar to RPI's, and if we can get the puck up around the net, we should have some goal-scoring success."
In addition to controlling the momentum, Demment also stressed the fact that the Big Green cannot afford too many penalties against one of the best power play units in the nation. Dartmouth worked on its transition game extensively in practice this week, especially from offense to defense as it cannot afford to get out of position tonight. Solid dezone coverage and increased communication are other areas of importance for Dartmouth to have success.
Saturday, Dartmouth heads to Ithaca, N.Y. which may be the most difficult place to play in the ECAC, save Burlington, Vt. The Big Red are the defending ECAC champions, and standing at 2-0 they have no plans of relinquishing their title. They are a team very similar in structure to the Big Green, with a good balance of youth and experience.
Cornell's freshmen class is led by Ryan Moynihan, one of last year's most sought after recruits who currently leads the Big Red in scoring.
"Like Harder, Moynihan is a guy we will pay special attention to whenever he steps on the ice," Demment said.
The Big Red are anchored by the air-tight goaltending of Jason Elliot, who seems to live in the zone 24/seven. Getting the puck past him could prove to be a challenge.
Demment envisions this game as being played close, with emphasis on making the simple plays and not trying to get to fancy. He sees it turning into a "....hard fought battle that will go down to the wire."
For the Big Green, the importance of these league games cannot be stressed enough. They are the last chance for Dartmouth to pick up points in the ECAC until after the break, unless you count the UVM game next Friday. The Big Green are confident though.
"We are definitely going to need a strong showing to sweep," defenseman David Risk '99 said. "The team came out Monday afternoon and went right back to work and I feel as if we are all eager to get on the road and whip a couple teams in front of their home crowds."