This weekend, the Dartmouth women's ice hockey team defends its honor at Thompson Arena against the University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine. UNH and Maine are 10-3 and 1-12 in the ECAC respectively, while Dartmouth is 8-4.
The possibility of a 2-0 weekend is not out of the question, but Dartmouth will have to earn it.
Dartmouth vs. UNH
When number two UNH comes to Hanover to challenge number seven Dartmouth, fans can expect a quality match. This is the first meeting this year between these granite state rivals, so both teams will be ready to battle.
Dartmouth took the season series last year 1-0-1 with a 3-3 tie in Manchester on Jan. 15, and 4-3 win at Thompson Arena on Feb. 21.
Expect the scoring to be similar to last year as two of the most high-powered offenses in the nation go head to head. The Wildcats enter this weekend boasting an ECAC-leading 4.82 goals per game average, while the Big Green are third in the conference with 4.52.
The main difference in the two offenses is depth. Dartmouth has four players with over twenty points on the season in Correne Bredin '02, Jen Wiehn '01, Kristina Guarino '01 and Carly Haggard '03. UNH is lead by Carisa Zaban and Samantha Holmes, who have 42 and 35 points.
In goal, junior Meghan Cahill of the Big Green will most likely face off against freshman Jen Huggon for UNH. Huggon has the more impressive stats on the year -- a .940 save percentage, 1.24 GAA and a 9-2-0 record to Cahill's .880 save percentage, 2.71 GAA and a 6-3-0 record.
If Dartmouth can score first in this game, they'll be the favorites to win. All nine of the Big Green's wins this season have come as a result of scoring first.
Add that to a 5-2 record at home and Dartmouth should be able to put a win on the board Saturday. The mitigating factors for the Wildcats are that they are as good on the road -- 5-2 -- as Dartmouth is at home.
New Hampshire also has vastly superior special team numbers. The Wildcats power play is top-notch, scoring on 22 percent of their opportunities, and their penalty killing is successful 92 percent of the time.
Dartmouth on the other hand is weak on both the power play and penalty kill. They are 12 percent and 87 percent effective respectively.
Since both teams take their share of penalties -- UNH averages 11.7 penalty minutes a game and Dartmouth averages 10.5 -- look for New Hampshire to strike early on their first power play opportunity.
This should be one of the best hockey match-ups to come to Hanover all season. Dartmouth will need to come on strong early in the first period to prevent any kind of catch-up situation.
Dartmouth vs. Maine
Maine is everything the University of New Hampshire is not. Last year Maine finished 11th in the ECAC with a 13-18-1 record overall. Currently at 4-12, the team looks to be repeating that feat.
If Dartmouth can't defeat the Wildcats on Saturday, then Maine should be a good confidence builder on Sunday. Characterized by weak goaltending and a lack of consistent scoring, it's hard to believe that Maine is in the same league as Dartmouth.
Maine has yet to win in this millennium, and though that streak might be stopped on Saturday when Maine takes on the Boston College Eagles -- who have yet to notch a conference win all season -- win number two will not happen on Sunday against the Big Green.
Maine is one of the few teams in the ECAC that has had two goalies who split time in net evenly. Unfortunately, neither Maine netminder is very good.
Sophomore Amanda Cronin enters this weekend with a 86 percent save rate, a 4.21 GAA and a 2-6 record. Freshman Dawn Froats is at 83 percent, 4.77 GAA with a 1-6 record.
The goalkeeper problem is compounded by a lack of offense. Maine is scoring just under three goals a game and has been shutout five times this season.
Their leading scorers are sophomore standouts Kira Misikowetz, Raffi Wolf and Andrea Keller. Misikowetz leads the team with 20 points, followed by Wolf with 19 and Keller with 17.
Aside from these three, Maine has no players with over 10 points on the season. Considering that the special units that are worse than Dartmouth's and that Maine hasn't won on the road all season, it seems like they shouldn't even make the trip.
The teams have not met this year but Maine lost both games to the Big Green last year, falling 5-1 and 5-2.
I put Dartmouth 4-3 over UNH and 7-0 over Maine.