Men's hockey sweeps through Harvard, opening weekend

by Evan J. Meyerson | 10/30/06 6:00am

The Big Green avenged last year's semifinal romping by defeating down No. 11 Harvard, 5-2, on Friday night.
by Emma Haberman / The Dartmouth

Such was the case for the men's hockey team as the 17th-ranked Big Green (2-0-0, 1-0-0 ECACHL) opened the 2006-07 season at home defeating Ivy League rival Harvard (0-1-0), 5-2 in a reprisal match of last year's ECACHL semifinal. The Crimson had trounced Dartmouth's NCAA dreams with a 10-1 shellacking in the semifinals, knocking the regular season champions out of the league tournament and into bubble-team status for the national tournament. The Big Green veterans returning for this season would not be quick to forget this sporting equivalent of a knee to the groin.

Dartmouth then completed an opening weekend sweep, defeating the University of Vermont Catamounts 3-2 on Sunday night.

"I'm sure no one forgot about the way things ended last year," said assistant captain David Jones '08, who tallied one goal and two assists on the night. We definitely had that in the back of our minds before the game. It was good motivation."

Even those new to the team could feel the effects of last year's loss.

"Before the game, in the dressing room, I didn't hear anyone bring up the Harvard game last year until about a minute before we went onto the ice," said rookie standout T.J. Galiardi '10. It seemed like there was a tension between all the older guys on the team about that issue, and no one wanted to be the first to bring it up. You don't just forget about a 10-1 loss that ended your season."

After Harvard sophomore Jimmy Fraser put the Crimson on top 1-0 halfway through the first period, the Big Green answered back quickly, knotting the score at one two minutes later, as Jones beat Crimson senior goaltender Justin Tobe.

Dartmouth saved its best for the second frame, netting four goals in 15:19, reminiscent of Harvard's four scores in the second period of the ECACHL semifinals a year ago.

Brandon Harrington '09 put the Big Green up for good three minutes into the second off a perfectly-placed pass from Ryan Bellows '09. Four minutes later, Nick Johnson '08 recorded the gamewinner, giving Dartmouth a 3-1.

Despite a Harvard goal later in the period, bringing the Crimson within one, Dartmouth's raucous home crowd energized the Big Green throughout the rest of the fame. Every seat in the student section was occupied 10 minutes into the contest, and the total attendance was 4,318. Dartmouth led its league in attendance last season, averaging over 4,000 fans per game.

J.T. Wyman '08 extended Dartmouth's lead to two once again at 14:07, giving Jones, who had the assist, his third point of the evening. 1:12 later, Galiardi put the game out of reach, scoring his first collegiate goal.

"I got the puck in a place where I could shoot it," said Galiardi of his first goal, "and it found its way into the net. It felt great to hear all the fans at Thompson going crazy and I hope ill be able to make that happen again."

On Sunday night, in front of a slightly mellower crowd than earlier in the weekend, Dartmouth locked sticks with No. 19 Vermont (2-3-1).

The Big Green jumped out to an early lead at :58 as Ben Lovejoy '07 capitalized on a power play that began eight seconds into the game. Dartmouth failed to score on consecutive 5-3 opportunities, but prevented UVM from scoring on a 5-3 of their own to close out the first period.

It seemed as though Vermont was going to avert another Dartmouth 5-3 six minutes into the second frame, yet as the power play ended and the Vermont player rushed back onto the ice to defend, Kevin Swallow '09 rebounded the puck off the boards behind Catamount junior netminder Joe Fallon and sent it into the back of the goal, putting the Big Green up 2-0.

A lackadaisical defensive effort by Dartmouth throughout the rest of the second period saw Vermont tie the score on two goals by sophomore forward Dean Strong, both assisted by senior co-captain Kenny Macaulay. The Big Green finally regained its composure as its most dependable line thus far struck again early in the third period. At 1:35 in the final frame, Jones connected with Tanner Glass '07, as the team captain gave Dartmouth a 3-2 advantage. Glass' score made it a five-point weekend for both him and Jones.

The Big Green stopped consecutive UVM power plays to close out a one-goal victory and clinch the weekend sweep. It is the first time Dartmouth has won its first two games of the season since 2003.

The game was riddled with penalties -- 27 in all -- but Glass refused to blame the referees for taking the game out of the players' hands. "We knew they were going to be strict, we just have to learn to play within it," said the Saskatchewan-native.

"We played really good teams this weekend -- high speed teams with strong goalies and great coaches," said head coach Bob Gaudet '81. "It's huge to get those first two the way we did."

Asked to explain the team's best start in three years, Gaudet lauded his team's first-rate conditioning. "We are in great physical shape," said the coach. "Our preparation really started as soon as last season ended."

Glass attributed the success of his line, featuring both Johnson and Jones, to their experience. "Being veteran players we know what we have to do. We just have to execute like we've been doing," said the captain.

The Big Green returns to ECACHL action next weekend at home, hosting St. Lawrence on Friday and Clarkson on Saturday. Both games are set to face-off at 7 p.m.