M. hockey has mixed weekend

by Kevin Allen | 11/15/00 6:00am

The Dartmouth men's ice hockey team returned to Hanover with its first win of the season, but overall the weekend was bittersweet. The Big Green currently stand at 1-1-0 in the ECAC after a 4-3 overtime win over Brown on Friday and a 5-2 loss to Harvard on Saturday.

Last week at a press conference in Oberlander Lounge at Alumni Gym, Head Coach Bob Gaudet jokingly remarked that his team could use some "sloppy wins" after women's Head Coach Judy Parish Oberting described a 8-1 win over Boston College as sloppy.

Apparently, Brown University was happy to oblige last Friday night.

Although Dartmouth escaped Meehan Auditorium with a 4-3 win, it's safe to say that Dartmouth wasn't playing its best hockey. Thankfully, neither was Brown.

Offensively, both teams had trouble handling the puck well and maintaining a presence in the zone. On defense, both teams couldn't clear the puck out and would send it down for an icing call.

Despite the lack of cohesion in the Bears' defensive zone, the Dartmouth offense kept pressure on Brown goaltender Brian Eklund by sending 13 shots on goal in the first period alone. The Big Green also kept streaking through the slot, which made sure that Eklund did not let up rebound chances.

It looked as if the Big Green had everything figured out at 5:05 in the first when Kent Gillings '03 scored his first of two goals that evening. However, Brown defenseman Josh Barker scored on a shot from the point less than two minutes later, which re-energized the Bears.

In the second period, Dartmouth's penalty kill -- which currently has a 76.9 percent success rate this season -- was beaten as John Petricig scored to tie the game at 2-2. From that point on, the Bears started to play as if they wanted to win, which is why Peter Mahler's '01 shorthanded goal at 18:14 of the second was so amazing.

The play appeared out of virtual thin air with a great steal by Dan Casella '02 who quickly moved the puck to Mahler for the goal to put Dartmouth back 3-2. As luck would have it, that goal would give Dartmouth a chance to win it in overtime, courtesy of Mike Maturo '02.

Dartmouth goaltender Nick Boucher '03 backstopped the Big Green with 33 saves on the night. The play of Boucher coupled with Dartmouth's managing to keep away from the penalty box allowed Dartmouth to hold into overtime.

Saturday against Harvard proved to be a different matter. While it was generally another sloppy game on the part of both teams, Harvard was a little bit hungrier for the win after having dropped a game to St. Lawrence the night before.

Both teams had trouble protecting their goaltenders. Boucher faced 35 shots while Crimson counterpart Oliver Jonas faced 36. Boucher needed a little bit of help in front of the crease all game, as the Crimson forwards were crashing the slot with at least three players at a time.

Both teams took their share of penalties. In particular, Dartmouth's nine penalties for 18 minutes resulted in six power play chances for the Crimson. If Dartmouth hadn't killed off five of those chances successfully, the score might have been worse.

In general, Dartmouth's special teams just haven't been that special. They were 0-3 in the Crimson game and are dismal 1-23 so far this season.

If Dartmouth had just picked up one power play goal over the weekend, it would have been huge -- it could have prevented overtime on Friday or kept the team within striking distance on Saturday.

Dartmouth didn't get on the board against Harvard until there was 4:47 left in the second period. To that point, Dartmouth had already failed to convert on both of its power-play chances.

The Big Green are a good team that can be successful in the ECAC this year. Dartmouth can count on Boucher to stop 30 shots a night and Gillings, Maturo and Jamie Herrington '02 to find the back of the net.

If anything, the road trip showed that the Big Green need a little more time to get things going -- it's nothing a good week of practice won't fix.

Dartmouth is currently in a five-way tie for fifth place in the conference. Two of those teams, Yale and Princeton, come to Thompson this weekend.

Look for the Big Green to put up a fight for some breathing room in the ECAC standings this weekend.