Winter Carnival brings bitter Ivy rivals to town

by Sammy Kardon | 2/7/02 6:00am

Winter Carnival is one of the biggest weekends of the term for most Dartmouth students; it is one of those special times when we are most proud and glad to be Dartmouth students.

That is doubly true for the Big Green women's hockey team.

There will be a lot of Dartmouth pride running through the players' veins this weekend as they take on their two most vicious rivals -- Harvard and Brown.

The lady icers are ready.

"The Harvard and Brown games this weekend will be wars," co-captain Kim McCullough '02 said. "There always has been and always will be bad blood between us and Harvard and Brown; there certainly will be no love lost between us and them this weekend."

Before Dartmouth (15-3-2, 7-1-0 ECAC North) could enter the national elite, it had to beat established national powerhouses like Harvard and Brown. In the past three seasons, Dartmouth has surpassed the Crimson and the Bears in the Ivy League hierarchy, and the No. 5 Big Green's national standing is pretty good, too.

Although Dartmouth is stronger -- the Big Green, currently fourth in the PairWise computer rankings, is on pace to go to its third straight Frozen Four -- No. 7 Brown (13-6-2, 7-3-1 ECAC North) is actually ahead of Dartmouth in the ECAC North standings. The Big Green has two games at hand, however.

Harvard (11-8-1, 5-3-1 ECAC North) is no slouch either. While nowhere near the heights it has attained historically, the Crimson are still No. 10 in the PairWise rankings.

"Both teams are quite strong this season," McCullough said, "and I am sure that both squads would love to come into our rink and pull off an upset."

The fear of an upset is especially potent this weekend after the then-No. 4 Big Green lost, 3-1, to New Hampshire last Friday night. If the team harbors national title hopes, it needs to avoid such setbacks, which are far more likely to occur against teams with a reason to pin a bulls-eye on Dartmouth -- like in-state rival UNH or Harvard or Brown.

The icewomen are wary of this threat, however, and have not taken the loss lying down.

"Our team has responded quite positively from the weekend's results," McCullough said. "Although every loss hurts, it also presents a terrific learning experience. We need to take pride in making our systems work because no matter how skilled a team is individually, if you can't put all the pieces together into a cohesive unit, every game will be a struggle."

The Big Green beat both Harvard (3-2) and Brown (5-3) in November, but a lot has changed since then and, this late in the season, the stakes are higher.

Every game is important and every opponent is the enemy, but it's a little more special when Harvard and Brown come to town on Carnival Weekend. There should be a good crowd on hand on tomorrow night at 7 p.m. for the Harvard game and Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., when Dartmouth and Brown do battle.