Home is sweet for the Big Green
The new year has been a bit of a ride for the men's hockey team, with the Big Green 5-1-2 since New Year's Day. While that is a successful mark, there is a bit of deception in the numbers. Currently, the Big Green is perfect at home in 2001, 5-0, but is 1-2 on the road.
Dartmouth bounced back from an unsuccessful road trip two weekends ago with a pair of wins over Union and Rensselaer on Friday and Saturday. The wins improved Dartmouth's record to 9-8-2 overall and 6-4-2 in the ECAC. In all, that gives the Big Green a 7-4 mark at home and a 2-4-2 record off the bus.
The lack of wins on the road might not have been such a big concern in the first half of the season, when Dartmouth was away from Thompson Arena for six out of 15 games. In the final 14, the Big Green is on the road for eight games. What this means is that Dartmouth will only stay in a comfortable spot in the ECAC standings if they can find a way to be more successful on the road.
Thankfully, Dartmouth has a chance to build some confidence this weekend against two teams it has just beaten. While Rensselaer will probably put up a fight in Troy, Union should be a lock. The final four road opponents are Cornell, Colgate, Princeton and Yale, which the Big Green are 2-2 against so far this season.
However, the Big Green should be able to top that record in the second part of the season for a few reasons. One, Yale, Princeton, and Colgate are currently eighth, ninth and tenth in the standings, respective. Two, Princeton goaltender Nate Nomeland will not stop shots against Dartmouth as he did earlier in the season. Three, the Big Green only lost by a goal to Yale last time.
The loss came on Nov. 17, at a point when Dartmouth was averaging 2.8 goals per game while their opponents were averaging 4.6. Those numbers have gotten a bit closer since then, with the boys in green averaging 2.95 while their opponents are at 3.16 per game.
What does this all mean? Well, if Dartmouth finishes the last 10 games with exactly the same results from earlier in the season, the Green would finish at 14-12-3 overall and 9-8-3 in ECAC play. This calculates out to a .450 win percentage and 21 points. In the current standings, a .450 win percentage is good for sole possession of 9th place, which just sneaks Dartmouth into the playoffs.
The catch is that this scenario provides that Dartmouth will be 4-2 in its final six on the road and 1-2-1 in the last four at home. That might seem like a big reversal of fortunes for the Big Green, but not really. This scenario would have Dartmouth finish the season 5-4-1 in conference play, which isn't a far cry from their current record of 6-4-2 in the ECAC.
Either way, it basically comes down to Dartmouth playing well in the closing stretch of the regular season. Success on the road will help, but not if it comes at the expense of success at home. There's an old sports adage that says, "Good teams sweep at home and split on the road."
If Dartmouth can close out the season 7-3, that will give them a 13-7-2 ECAC record with a winning percentage of .591. With the way the standings are today, .590 is approximately a tie for fourth place -- exactly where Dartmouth is now.