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The Dartmouth
February 24, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Icers show two sides vs. Niagara

If you want to know what a difference a day can make, just ask the Dartmouth women's ice hockey team. On Saturday, the Big Green skated to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Niagara Purple Eagles, even though they outshot Niagara 47-13.

Sunday was a different matter however, as Dartmouth put Niagara back on the bus with a 5-0 loss to think about.

On Sunday, the Big Green outshot the Purple Eagles 43-12. Since the offensive output of both teams was identical on both days, other factors kept Dartmouth off the board on Saturday.

In short, the two factors that won the battle for the Purple Eagles on Saturday were goaltender Tania Pinelli and the intensity of the Niagara team.

Looking at the two teams historically, they are mirror images of each other. Dartmouth has a history of greatness -- Ivy League titles, ECAC championships and Olympic team members.

On the other side of the looking glass is Niagara, a program in its second year of exsistence. This in no way means that Niagara is a bad club -- a 12-6-1 record so far and 10 scholarship players makes them nothing to sneeze at.

In the end though, Niagara is still a team trying to make a name for itself. Thus, a win over a nationally ranked team like Dartmouth is priceless.

On Saturday, Niagara came to Thompson Arena ready for a battle. Their ace was Pinelli, who entered the weekend with a .935 save percentage.

"We knew that they were a physical team, and we were prepared for a battle, but I don't think we ever really thought they would beat us," Emilia Peraza '02 said.

Who could blame Dartmouth for that? With the most high-powered offense in the ECAC -- averaging 4.86 goals per game -- it takes a virtual miracle to stop this team from scoring.

Apparently Pinelli was up to the task. She stopped 15 shots in the first period and 16 shots in each of the second and third periods for the shutout.

"We played great hockey in the third period, and in the last five minutes of the game we had some great opportunities, great shots and great movement all across the ice," Peraza added. "We just could not capitalize on those opportunities. Their goalie would not let anything by her."

Dartmouth Head Coach Judy Parish Oberting echoed the same sentiments on Saturday after the loss.

"We put 47 shots on goal, so we were doing something right," she said. "We'll probably look back at the tapes and see that [Pinelli] was having an amazing day in the net."

A frustrated and annoyed Dartmouth team knew things had to be different on Sunday.

"We needed to come out strong and put a lot of pressure on them from the beginning," Peraza said. "We were real disappointed about Saturday's loss, so we really wanted to let them know that we were the better team and we were capable of scoring goals against them."

Anyone watching Sunday's game would have wondered whether the same two teams from the day before were on the ice.

It was apparent before freshman Lydia Wheatley's goal 4:19 into the first period that the tables were turned. The Niagara defense that kept Dartmouth out of the slot and from shooting from outside the circles on Saturday was nowhere to be seen.

Dartmouth controlled the tempo on both zones and at neutral ice.

It also seemed that Pinelli forgot to eat her Wheaties. The Big Green scored twice in their first 17 shots on Sunday.

With the proverbial flood gates opened after a Kristin King '02 goal, Dartmouth headed into the locker room with a 2-0 lead. Junior co-captain Kristina Guarino would score twice in the following period along with freshman Carly Haggard to bring the score to 5-0.

The Dartmouth women's ice hockey team was looking like it's old self again after a well-deserved win. Unfortunately there is no rest for the weary since the Big Green must take on UNH -- one of the nation's top five teams -- next weekend.

Both teams will sure to be psyched with the cross-state rivalry that is alive between these two teams.

Both teams' special units should play a factor. UNH is averaging 11.5 penalty minutes per game while Dartmouth is averaging 10.7 minutes per game.

When asked about Dartmouth's upcoming match with the Wildcats, Peraza replied, "We need to go into that game with confidence and intensity, with a sense of urgency and we'll be fine."

If Sunday's game is any indication of how hard the Big Green will play against New Hampshire, then it is safe to say that Wildcats are in season.