A hard win is a good win, but two hard wins are an incredible sign of hard work and determination. Thus, no team is more deserving of a pat on the back than the Dartmouth women's ice hockey team.
After a smooth win over the University of New Hampshire 4-0 last Saturday, the Big Green mounted their first come-from-behind victory of the season on Sunday.
After not scoring for over a period and a half of play, Dartmouth finally rallied back to defeat Maine 4-1.
Although the scores of the games were similar, the game play was decidedly not.
Against the UNH Wildcats, Dartmouth came out with its most dominating forecheck of the season. From the first minute of the game on Saturday, Dartmouth controlled both ends of the ice.
Sunday was different, as the Big Green had trouble doing anything with the puck for the first two periods.
On Saturday, it was obvious that Dartmouth was skating with a playoff determination even though their lead was never in jeopardy. Against the Black Bears, that kind of work ethic did not surface until it was almost too late.
In both games, the Big Green took a cue from games earlier in the season to emerge victorious.
In the UNH game, Dartmouth probably recalled its hard-nosed play from over two months ago when it defeated Harvard 5-4 in overtime. In that game, the Big Green played smart, aggressive hockey to jump out to a two-goal lead.
However, the Green were not as insightful back then, and the Crimson where able to catch up and force overtime. Sixteen games later, Dartmouth appreciated that a two-goal lead would not be sufficient to keep the Wildcats down.
So the Big Green kept playing for all they were worth well into the second period. Their diligence manifested itself in a Jen Wiehn '01 power play goal 5:29 into the second.
While that might not seem all that spectacular, Dartmouth had only scored on eight of its previous 65 power play chances going into this weekend.
While a three-goal lead is generally a safe cushion, the Dartmouth forecheck continued.
In the final period, Dartmouth would strike again with Kim McCullough '02 scoring the team's first short-handed goal of the season.
The Big Green kept UNH down by never ceasing to play their best hockey. Fittingly, they were rewarded with a victory over the number two team in the country.
Sunday's game against Maine started off as a mirror image of the Big Green's match against Princeton on Jan. 29.
On that fateful afternoon, Dartmouth was fresh off a 9-1 victory over the Yale Bulldogs. The Big Green started the Princeton game with ineffective puck movement and found themselves at a three-goal disadvantage that they could not bounce back from.
Although the first period of the Dartmouth-Maine game was scoreless, it was clear that Dartmouth was in a post-win funk. The Black Bears were shutting down the Green's attack, and as result, only four of the Dartmouth's 14 first-period shots came from closer than 15 feet.
The real wake-up call came in the second period when Andrea Keller put home a rebound chance from an Esther Granville shot. Then was when the Princeton game flashed before the Big Green's eyes. Once again, Dartmouth was trailing a team that was below their ability level.
Slowly but surely, Dartmouth picked up its game. Passes became a bit sharper, the forecheck a bit tighter.
Then apparent tragedy struck when Correne Bredin '01 took a cross-checking penalty. Since Dartmouth had just successfully killed off a roughing penalty to Kristin Romberg '01, it appeared that any momentum that had been building for the Big Green was now lost.
Then it happened. Kristing King '02 made a quick pass to McCullough just as Bredin's penalty expired.
Bredin hopped out of the penalty box and immediately received the puck from McCullough. Maine was caught off guard and a two-on-one developed.
Bredin carried the puck into the Maine zone on the left wing side with Carly Haggard '03 streaking down the middle. Just when it looked like she would pass to Haggard, Bredin ripped a slapshot on goaltender Amanda Cronin's near side and found the upper corner of the net.
The Big Green were back, and in the third period the flood gates opened. Bredin scored what would prove to be the game winner with another slapshot.
Within 20 seconds of Bredin's second goal, Dartmouth was dancing to the red light again as Wiehn's shot deflected in off a Maine defender. McCullough capped the scoring with her second goal of the weekend with just 2:01 remaining.
For Dartmouth, the win against Maine was huge from a psychological standpoint for two reasons.
First, Dartmouth had never come from behind to win all season. Second, the Big Green's next game is against Princeton-- the team that snuffed out a Dartmouth comeback attempt two weeks ago.
Thus, Dartmouth should have the confidence it needs not to fall victim to the Tigers next weekend.
Dartmouth now has its first three-game win streak since Nov. 12. The Green's record now stands at 10-4 in the ECAC -- the second most wins in the conference -- with 10 games left in the season.
Furthermore, Dartmouth has moved into fourth place in the lague, giving them the final home-ice playoff spot. Since they will still face the big guns of the ECAC again including Harvard, Northeastern and UNH, it is critical for the Big Green to pick up wins against their next four opponents -- Princeton, Yale, Cornell and St. Lawrence -- to protect their place in the standings.