It's showtime in ECAC for Big Green
With two weeks to go in the regular season, life in the ECAC has become a little tight. Namely, Dartmouth and Harvard are tied for fourth place and sit just two points back of Cornell, which has 23. The Big Red are just two points behind first-place St. Lawrence; only three points separate sixth place from the two-way tie for tenth.
This is the time of the season where the contenders step up their game, while the pretenders are exposed, although it might be more dramatic if fewer than ten out of the twelve teams made the playoffs.
The Big Green heads out on the road again for the final time this weekend to face Princeton and Yale. While this could be a test for the Big Green, they have one thing on their side: Dartmouth is playing some of their best hockey of the season as of late.
Dartmouth's numbers are also on the rise. A combined 11-for-11 on the penalty kill last weekend against Cornell and Colgate has improved the Green's percentage to 80.8 percent efficiency in ECAC play.
On the other side of the coin, the power play remains at 24.6 percent despite a 1-for-6 weekend.
And there have been players who have just been on a tear for the Big Green. Nick Boucher '03 is an example, as he has allowed just three goals in Dartmouth's current four-game unbeaten streak. Chris Baldwin '02 has been hot of late as well, scoring eight points in his last eight games.
However, a hot streak doesn't assure good fortune, just as a cold streak doesn't assure bad fortune. Harvard entered the weekend losers of four straight, but managed to surprise St. Lawrence on Saturday, winning 4-1 and trimming the Saints' lead to one point over second place Clarkson. But with Yale dropping a 5-1 decision to Union and Princeton averaging just two goals per game in it's last four losses, the home teams have their work cut out for them.
The only real factor that the Bulldogs and Princeton have on their side is that both defeated Dartmouth at home earlier in the season. Hopefully, it will just make the Big Green eager to return the favors with a pair of road wins.
The weekend takes on a near must-win situation for Yale and Princeton because of this, since a pair of losses for either could drop them from a playoff spot.
Two weekends and four games remain in the ECAC regular season, with still a lot of room for things to be shaken up. All teams except Brown have to stay focused as they prove their worthiness to the postseason gods. Dartmouth can solidify its place with two more road wins, before ending the regular season back at Thompson Arena two weeks from now. Will it be easy? No, but that's fine by the Big Green. No guts, no glory.