Men's hockey edges Brown, falls to Yale in home matchups

by Evan J. Meyerson | 11/20/06 6:00am

It was not the ideal result, but Dartmouth's split at Thompson Arena this weekend versus ECACHL opponents was good enough to keep the Big Green within striking distance of first place, one point behind Quinnipiac. As inconsistency at home returned to plague Dartmouth, the Big Green (5-3, 4-3 ECACHL) fell to Yale 4-2 on Friday, but recovered the following night to beat Brown 1-0.

Under new coach Keith Allain, previously the goalie coach for the St. Louis Blues, Yale (6-1, 3-1 ECACHL) has risen from perennial ECACHL cellar-dweller to potentially being ranked in the top 20 after this weekend.

The Bulldogs, who are off to their best start in nine seasons, quickly made it apparent that they would not be the traditional cakewalk Dartmouth was used to. The Big Green, which had bounced Yale from the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, struggled to find the pipes all game.

Yale took a 1-0 lead one minute into the second period. Freshman Sean Backman chipped the puck lazily toward Dartmouth goalie Mike Devine '08 to put it on net, but the puck skipped on the fresh ice past Devine. The Bulldogs added to their lead with 58 seconds left in the frame after Bill LeClerc's floater was batted out of the air and into the goal by Robert Page. Dartmouth's deficit grew to three 19 seconds into the final stanza on a goal by Mark Arcobello.

The Big Green finally got on the board at 5:58 when assistant captain David Jones '08 finished off a 3-on-1, pulling his team within two goals. After Dartmouth failed to muster more than a single shot during two consecutive power plays between 12:50 and 7:45 in the third, Yale put the game away with a late goal on a power play of its own.

Nick Johnson '08 converted Dartmouth's first power play goal with 1:02 remaining, redirecting a J.T. Wyman '08 slapper, but it was too little too late. Dartmouth was one for nine on power plays and recorded only 16 shots on goal in the game. The final score could have been even worse if it were not for 33 saves by Devine, the two-time ECACHL goalie of the week.

"We played a really good, well-coached, team tonight," said head coach Bob Gaudet '81 after the game. "They were really strong on our power plays, blocking a lot of pucks and just denying us. We could not generate a whole lot and tried to be a little too fancy at times."

Jones was disappointed with the team's energy, saying, "Our effort level just wasn't there. We had our chances."

Jones would have his own chance the following night, and would certainly capitalize on it. On a 5-on-3 power play opportunity three minutes into the second period against Brown (2-3-2, 1-2-1 ECACHL), Jones scored on a crossing pass from Ben Lovejoy '07, giving Dartmouth a 1-0 advantage. It was Jones' third goal in four games, and team-leading 12th point of the season.

One goal was all that the Big Green needed, as yet another stellar performance by Devine stopped the Bears in their tracks. Devine stopped 30 shots, completing his first shutout of the year. The Dartmouth netminder has averaged nearly 34 saves per game in his last four outings.

Eight minutes into the third frame, Kevin McCarthy '10 was called for a hitting from behind game misconduct, giving Brown a five-minute power play. Dartmouth, however, was able to kill off the first four minutes of the Bears' one-man advantage before Brown committed a penalty of its own to even out the lines.

While the win gives Dartmouth its eighth point, good enough for second in the ECACHL, the Big Green are ninth out of 12 in the loss-column.

"We need to be consistent," said Devine. "We can't take nights off, and we need to come to the rink prepared game in and game out."

Devine was not discouraged by his own strong performances only resulting in a 4-3 league record. "Compared to the last few years, we're off to a much better start," he said. "But at the same time, we can still be much, much better. The fact that we're 5-3 right now and we still haven't played our best hockey is, in a way, encouraging because we know we're capable of so much more."

Dartmouth returns to action with another league series at Thompson Arena next weekend. The Big Green hosts Princeton on Friday and Quinnipiac on Saturday. Both games are set to face-off at 7 p.m.