Colgate, Cornell pay a visit
After a win and a tie against the Vermont Catamounts last weekend, the Big Green appear to have their first half woes behind them as they head into this weekend. Dartmouth will be back home at Thompson to face Colgate and Cornell, two teams at opposite ends of the ECAC standings. The Colgate Red Raiders are behind the Big Green in tenth place going into this weekend, while the Cornell Big Red is 4-1-1 and in fourth.
Going by the Big Green's overall record, 5-7-1, you'd probably pick Dartmouth to beat Colgate and fall to Cornell. However, that wouldn't be fair considering the way the Big Green has played of late.
The Big Green are 3-1-1 in their last five games, including wins over Vermont and Hockey East contender New Hampshire. If the Big Green's early season woes are over, then Dartmouth will make a steady climb towards the top of the ECAC. It was obvious at the start of the season that head coach Bob Gaudet had the talent to make a great team. It just took a little while to get their act together.
The Red Raiders are 2-4-0 in conference play this season and sport a 4-11-3 overall record. They are coming off a 4-2 win over Mercyhurst of the MAAC last weekend. Colgate came close to squandering a 3-0 lead that they had going into the third period and only sealed the winwith a late empty-net goal.
By the numbers, Dartmouth is behind the Red Raiders in goals per game in conference play by one goal, 3.67 to 2.67. However, the Big Green are slightly ahead in goals against in ECAC play, 3.67 to 3.89.
Considering Dartmouth got five goals against Vermont, they should be able to get at least four against the Red Raiders if they bring their "A" game to the ice.
Dartmouth goaltender Nick Boucher '03 has played exceptionally well of late, and should have no problem out-dueling Jason Lefevre, who enters this weekend with .874 save percentage and a 3.98 goals against average in conference play.
My prediction is a 4-1 Dartmouth win.
The Big Red will probably not go as quietly as Colgate. Although they don't score much, averaging only 2.17 per contest coming into this weekend, with the goaltending tandem of Matt Underhill and Ian Burt, the Big Red don't need to.
Ian Burt has a .977 save percentage in two ECAC games while Underhill has a.934 in three. Despite a 2-2 tie to Quinnipiac last weekend, Cornell should be tough to beat if the play of their goaltenders continues.
Dartmouth will have the advantage of being at home, but Cornell will be fresh off a game with Vermont, which, depending on the outcome, could work in either team's favor.
If the Big Green come out hard early like they did in Burlington last weekend, they should be able to pick up a win. Though Cornell's 4-1-1 league record may seem imposing, some of those wins came over weaker teams like Clarkson and Brown. I like Dartmouth to win 3-2.