Women closing out great season
With four games left to play this season, the Dartmouth women's ice hockey team has the opportunity to clinch one of the greatest seasons in the team's 22-year history. At 15-5-0, the team has already bettered its 14-7-5 record of last year, and two more wins this year will top the Green's 1997-98 record of 16-5-1.
If the team can hold on to its second place standing in the ECAC, it will be in strong position to advance past the semi-finals of the ECAC playoffs for the first time ever.
Last year, Dartmouth fought its way to the semi-finals the hard way. After finishing in a tie for fifth in the league, the Big Green was forced to play second-place Brown on their ice.
But Dartmouth willed itself to victory by a score of 3-0. Unfortunately, Harvard proved to be too much in the next contest, knocking Dartmouth out with a solid 8-0 victory.
This season has the potential to hold a much smoother path. Dartmouth has defeated every team ranked below it but Northeastern, and if it finishes second, it would not have to face the dominant Brown Bears until the ECAC championship.
If rankings were to remain the same as they are now, Dartmouth would face a mediocre Niagara team in the first round, allowing them to be all the more well rested and pumped up for a second-round showdown against a better team.
This could be the year that Dartmouth wins the ECAC championships -- a scenario that isn't really all that farfetched.
Although Dartmouth did suffer from a whipping by Brown last weekend, the team also dismissed the next best competitor, Harvard, 5-3.
More importantly, the Green were without two of the team's star players. Correne Bredin '02, the team's second leading scorer, was in Europe playing with the Canadian under-22 team while team co-captain Carrie Sekela '01 has been out with an injury.
The team's remaining games against Maine, UNH, Northeastern and Providence should be victories. At 1-15, Maine is a guaranteed win and Providence should not be too much trouble. Dartmouth defeated them 6-2 in their first encounter.
UNH is typically a challenging game for Dartmouth, but the Big Green's 4-0 victory earlier this season and 8-1 record over the last nine games this season makes the odds fall in Dartmouth's favor.
Northeastern may pose a significant challenge. It is the only team other than Brown to have defeated Dartmouth more than once this season.
Harvard's effort to overtake the second place position from Dartmouth, on the other hand, will be a challenge. It has six games left to close the three-point gap, but three of them are against top teams -- Brown, Northeastern and UNH. The other three games remaining for Harvard are likely victories against Maine, Yale and Princeton.
Even if Dartmouth loses to Northeastern, Harvard will only be able to lose to one of Brown, Northeastern and UNH to grab the second place spot. That's a lot of pressure considering Brown will most likely destroy Harvard.
Indeed the biggest threat to Dartmouth right now is complacency. Losses to Niagara and Princeton before the recent winning streak demonstrate the team's vulnerability and tendency to sometimes play down to opponents.
Bredin and Sekela's return will hopefully provide the added extra jolt of adrenaline and focus to finish off the season as one of the best Dartmouth women's ice hockey teams in history.
From there the biggest question will be can they beat Brown on their home ice to be the best team in the ECAC.