Women's hockey opens with a win
Shannon Bowman '09 began her Dartmouth hockey career with a pair of goals as the women's team managed to hang on and win its home opener 4-3 against an opportunistic Boston University squad.
Dartmouth dominated play for most of the game, as evidenced by their overwhelming 44-13 shots on goal margin, but the Terriers perservered, and, with a couple of third-period goals, made the last couple of minutes of the third period very interesting.
Showing no signs of first-period home-opener jitters, the Big Green jumped on BU from the opening whistle, firing three shots on goal in the first four minutes.
Despite controlling the puck in the offensive zone almost continually to begin the game, Dartmouth nearly fell behind 1-0. About five minutes into the period a miscue with the puck at center bounced BU's way, and Kate Lane '06 had to make a solid save to stop the clean breakaway and maintain the scoreless tie.
The deadlock wouldn't last long, however, as Caroline Ethier '07 opened the season's scoring just more than a minute later. Having regained control of the puck following Lane's save, Ethier capitalized on a scramble in front of the net.
The middle chunk of the first period passed without further scoring, as the Big Green peppered the Lady Terriers' goalkeeper with shots which were repeatedly denied. After several minutes of incessant pressure on BU's defense, Dartmouth captain Tiffany Hagge '06 was sent to the box with an interference penalty. What could have shifted the momentum ended up building the Big Green's confidence, however, as the penalty was killed impressively. Solid forechecking kept BU in their own end for the first 45 seconds, and Lane made a couple of good saves to finish off the two-minute disadvantage.
That sequence proved a sign of things to come as the Big Green penalty-killing unit was impressive all night. They killed seven of eight penalties, only giving up one power play goal late in the third period when BU pulled their goaltender to gain a two-man advantage. The unit also generated a couple of shorthanded scoring chances which ultimately failed to find the twine.
After jumping out of the box, Hagge immediately almost redeemed herself. After picking up the puck near BU's blue line, she sliced her way through a pair of defenders and threw a backhand flick at the cage that BU's goalie just got a pad on.
Back at even-strength, the Big Green's siege on the BU goal continued. Shortly after Hagge's near-miss, Bowman threw a long, seemingly innocuous, shot on goal that was initially stopped. However, the puck was badly misplayed by the BU goaltender, slipped out of her control and trickled into the net.
The second period was marred by penalties. The ladies of BU were not at all ladylike, earning a total of 10 penalty minutes during the period, including a pair of cross checking penalties. Dartmouth, however, could not capitalize on any of the power-play opportunities.
"We definitely have a lot of things we need to improve on, we were one for 11 on the power play which is a brutal statistic," Hagge said.
However, the Big Green managed to get it done at even strength. While Dartmouth did not as clearly control play as it did in the first period, the team looked, for a moment, to be running away with the game. Off the face off following the harsh denial of Ethier's bid for a second goal, Bowman scored at 4:45, putting the women up 3-0. However, just 17 seconds later BU scored, taking a bit of the wind out of the Big Green's sails and hoisting the Terriers back in the game.
After such an eventful opening to the period, play lulled for much of the remainder as penalties broke up play and Dartmouth's power play struggled. Then, with both sides down a skater, BU took a second penalty with only 35 seconds remaining in the period. BU's freshman attacker Erin Seman didn't have to wait in the box long, as it only took four seconds of the power play for Hagge to push the Big Green to a commanding 4-1 lead.
While the third period initially appeared to be nothing more than a formality, BU made it interesting. Their freshman goalkeeper Allyse Wilcox robbed Danielle Grundy '06 of a shorthanded goal to open the period, and blanked the Big Green for the remainder.
The Terriers pulled within two near the halfway point of the period, but Dartmouth seemed to have the game in hand. However, with under three minutes remaining and a man advantage, BU pulled their goalie and scored on the last of their eight power play opportunities.
Pulling their goalie again shortly after the ensuing face off, BU tried valiantly to pull even, but after Dartmouth gained control of the puck spent the waning moments of the game awkwardly defending their own goal without a goaltender.
While opening the regular season with a win is undoubtedly positive, the game was not everything the Big Green might have hoped for. The even strength offense seems to be dealing with the loss of key contributors Gillian Apps '06, Cherie Piper '06 and Katie Weatherston '06 to the Canadian National Team well, but the trio accounted for 29 power play goals last season, and their absence from that unit is conspicuous. The defensive struggles the Big Green endured against McGill, where they fell 3-2 in an exhibition matchup despite outshooting their opponents 51-13, were mirrored in the BU game.
"We had a few breakdowns in our defensive zone when the puck was bouncing around, and we need to pick up more bodies in front of the net," Hagge said.
The team seems to have a great deal of potential, however, as the largest recruiting class Dartmouth women's hockey has seen in over two decades has been met with early success.
"Our freshman stepped in nicely, especially Bowman with her two goals, but everybody worked really hard, and I think we have a solid start to build from," Hagge said.
The Big Green takes the ice at Thompson Arena again next weekend with a Friday matchup against Princeton at 7 p.m., and a Saturday game versus Qunnipiac at 4 p.m.