Quinnipiac trips men's hockey

by Evan Meyerson | 11/2/04 6:00am

Leading up to Saturday's season-opening game against Quinnipiac University was the hype triggered by a national ranking of 11, the distinct prospect of an NCAA tournament berth and the optimism and hopes of an entire region. Unfortunately for Dartmouth men's hockey, missed opportunities and a strong defensive effort from Quinnipiac spelled defeat with a 2-1 score on opening night. But Dartmouth rebounded in a big way Sunday versus UConn in a 4-1 victory, hopefully laying to rest any doubt that the 2004-2005 squad is not for real.

Both Quinnipiac and the Big Green began play quickly and a little too aggressively. Huge hits seemed to compensate for the anxiety of a new season. Everything but the scoreboard pointed to Dartmouth domination. The puck remained on the Quinnipiac side of the blue line virtually throughout the entire first period.

Nevertheless, Quinnipiac senior goalie Jamie Holden thwarted every Dartmouth opportunity to keep the game tied at zero. Even when the Big Green seemed to fluster Holden after a shot by Ben Lovejoy '07 nine minutes into the contest, the Bobcat net-minder quickly recovered the puck. Holden would make an impressive 45 saves by the end of the game.

The second period began just as the first ended. A flurry of chances for Dartmouth in front of the Quinnipiac goal eluded the Big Green. Lovejoy was inches from scoring once again when he clanked the post during an early power play. A few minutes later, a brilliant centering pass by Grant Lewis '07 was whiffed.

Finally, the Bobcats cracked Dartmouth's stiff defense with 8:54 to go in the period, as senior defensemen Tom Watkins scored off a deflection. He was assisted by senior Matt Craig. As the second period drew to a close, even the growing chants of "Let's go Dartmouth" from the capacity crowd at Thompson Arena could not motivate the Big Green offense.

Less than two minutes into the third period, J.T. Wyman '08 found a floating puck directly in front of the Bobcat goal, but overshot the net. A series of shots fired at Holden during a power play three minutes in teased the apprehensive crowd with no results. A questionable penalty called on captain Lee Stempniak '05 at 10:40 deflated Dartmouth's onslaught and led to Quinnipiac's second goal of the game. With 7:32 to go, senior Rob Hammel pushed a deflected puck by Dartmouth goalie Dan Yacey '05.

The 2-0 hole was too much for Dartmouth, as Garret Overlock '06's power play goal was not enough to spark a Big Green recovery. The game concluded and Quinnipiac jubilantly celebrated their unexpected victory on Dartmouth's ice.

"We wanted to make a statement," said Holden. "Hockey's a game where if you work hard, anything can happen."

Holden, along with being fourth in the nation last season in save percentage, has a 3.98 GPA and is studying to be a dentist.

The defeat was not defined by a lack of opportunities. On the contrary, it was marked by a lack of capitalizing. Dartmouth out-shot Quinnipiac 46-11 in the loss, leading to head coach Bob Gaudet's claim that "[the team] can do a better job to put the puck in the net. We've just got to find a way to score as the season goes on."

Overlock conveyed similar sentiments, saying, "It felt frustrating to have 40 some shots and 98 chances. You figure one of them has to go in."

Dartmouth's misfortune would end the following night while hosting the Huskies of UConn. Within two minutes of the opening face-off, the Big Green notched their first of four goals. Assisted by Mike Ouellette '06 and Lewis, Tanner Glass '07 scored his first of two goals to give Dartmouth a quick 1-0 advantage. Five minutes later, Stempniak connected with forward Hugh Jessiman '06 for Dartmouth's second score of the game. Glass closed out the first period in style, knocking home his second goal of the game at 17:00.

The Huskies attempted to counter the Dartmouth assault early in the second period, as sophomore Eric Helstedt scored UConn's lone goal off a pass from freshman Mike Neilon. But Max Guimond '06 put the contest out of reach after scoring Dartmouth's fourth goal of the game four minutes into the third period. The Big Green logged 46 shots for the second consecutive night.

Dartmouth's 4-1 triumph brings the team to 1-1 on the season heading into ECACHL play next week. The Yale Bulldogs come to town Friday, sporting a 0-2 record. On Saturday, the Big Green hosts 0-1-1 Princeton. Both games begin at 7 p.m.