Big Green women's hockey trounces rivals Colgate, Cornell
The Big Green women's hockey team made things interesting this weekend, coming home from New York with another pair of wins and a still-undefeated record on the season.
Thanks to Cherie Piper '06's game-winning goal with six minutes remaining in the second period, Dartmouth (7-0, 6-0 ECACHL) squeaked out a 4-3 victory over Colgate (4-6, 0-3 ECACHL) on Friday night in Starr Rink.
Krista Dornfried '05 and Gillian Apps '06 quickly put the Big Green up by a pair late in the first frame, but what seemed like another blowout victory turned into a much tougher contest. The second period saw six goals traded between the two teams in the span of eight minutes, but the last one that broke a 3-3 tie belonged to Dartmouth.
"Colgate has gotten better each year and they are a very solid team," said Dartmouth head coach Mark Hudak. "They did a lot of the little things right to keep us from scoring and took advantage of a couple of our breakdowns. Add that to some real solid goaltending and you've got a close game."
Four different players scored goals and 10 tallied a point on the night. Having to deal with a short bench for the past two weeks due to injuries and national team commitments, the team has stepped up its level of play and turned the adversity into an opportunity to improve.
"I don't see having a short bench as being adverse, in fact I think it helps us," said Tiffany Hagge '06, who missed last weekend to play for Team U.S.A. in the Four Nations' Cup. "Having less people on the bench allows more people to get into the game and step up and play a larger role. I think the team has dealt with the short bench great and I actually think it has turned into a big positive for us," stated Hagge.
True to Hagge's words, a Dartmouth team that dressed only nine forwards on Saturday saw eight of them pick up points in an 8-2 route of Cornell (3-3, 3-3 ECACHL). Hagge led all scorers with a career-high five points in a tremendous individual effort.She was one of three Dartmouth players to score two goals in the game. Katie Weatherston '06 and Caroline Ethier '07 also found the back of the net twice apiece.
"I think this weekend was the perfect example of individuals stepping up when the team as a whole was struggling a little," said Hudak. "The timing seemed off at times, both games were very physical, and we did have some pretty significant injuries to deal with at various times. But, given all of that, to score 12 goals says a lot about the overall character of our team," continued Hudak.
The true strength of the team will be tested starting next week as Dartmouth enters a stretch in which six of its seven opponents are ranked in the top 10. In the middle of the seven-game stretch will be two critical games against Minnesota, the top-ranked and only other undefeated team in the nation.
"The last stretch of our schedule before Christmas is going to be really important, since we want to put ourselves in a great spot for the second half," said Piper. "Our team has been working hard on a daily basis to make sure that we can be completely prepared for our upcoming games."
"This next month we are going to have the opportunity to see how good we really are," added Hagge. "To this point we haven't really been challenged or played anyone ranked very high. [Playing Minnesota] will really give us an idea of where we stand in the national picture. Everyone on the team is excited to play some fast, competitive hockey and are looking forward to facing a true test, we are preparing with this in mind."
Before the Big Green take on the Gophers, it has to focus on three other opponents. Next weekend, the Big Green will face Mercyhurst and Minnesota State in a Thanksgiving weekend tournament, and on Dec. 1, the team will play host to UNH.
When Dartmouth and Minnesota hit the Thompson Arena ice on Dec. 11, it will be the best games in the nation this season, and chances are that both teams will reach there still undefeated.