Men's hockey downs Bentley in a non-conference affair
Bentley (5-8-1, 5-3-1 Atlantic Hockey) was coming off of a weekend split against conference foe Army and had yet to win a game against non-league opponents. The Falcons came to Hanover in hopes of changing their non-conference fortunes but again discovered their opponent to be too strong.
"Bentley is the first place team in their league so we knew it was not going to be easy," Connor Shields '09 said. "We approach every team with the same mentality, looking to outwork them."
The game started early at 1:30 p.m. as part of a double-header headlined by the eighth-ranked women's team's contest against 10th-ranked Clarkson.
The early start had little apparent effect on the Big Green, as the team came out strong, with center Scott Fleming '11 notching his third goal of the year just three minutes and one second into the game. The goal came when he took a shot that glanced off the post and into the net behind the Bentley goaltender. Fleming's linemates Adam Estoclet '11 and Matt Reber '11 were both given assists on the play.
"Everyone has their own routines that they like to abide by before each game so the early start threw everyone's individual routine off," JT Wyman '08 said. "But as a whole I think we were able to disregard the change and focus on the game itself"
Bentley did not let the early goal trip up the team, continuing to press hard throughout the first period. They finished with 13 shots on goal, as opposed to Dartmouth's 11, but Dartmouth's goaltender, Dan Goulding '09, making his first collegiate start in place of co-captain Mike Devine '08, kept Bentley from knocking a goal home before the intermission.
"Any time you only give up one goal it means that the team played good team defense," Goulding said. "When the team does a good job eliminating scoring chances, it makes it easier for the goalie to do his job."
During the second period, Dartmouth peppered the Bentley goal with 13 shots but Bentley's goalkeeper Joe Calvi kept the Big Green from extending its lead.
While the Big Green was unable to convert on any of its 13 chances, the Falcons took advantage of one of their four shots during the period, as Jeff Gumaer, who led the Falcons in scoring last season, scored his fifth goal of this year to tie the game at one heading into the third period.
The barrage of Dartmouth shots was not slowed by the intermission, and the Big Green finally put a second goal, which proved to be the game-winner, past Calvi. Josh Gillam '10 took the puck and snuck in a wraparound chance, with assistant captain Wyman notching his fifth assist of the season and Brandon Harrington '09 tallying his first point.
The Big Green outshot the Falcons 20 to eight in the third period, and 44 to 25 for the game.
Shields provided the insurance goal with less than five minutes to go. Goulding was able to pass the puck to assistant captain Rob Pritchard '09, who knocked the puck over to Shields in traffic in front of the net, and the Edmonton native put home his third goal of the year.
"Coming down on the two-on-one, I noticed the goalie cheating off his post thinking that I was going to pass to [Jon] Grecu ['08], so I just shot where the goalie should have been and scored," Shields said.
Three minutes later, Kyle Reeds '11 was able to knock a goal into the empty net and moments after that with Calvi back in net for the Falcons, Estoclet was able to put in his first collegiate goal. The line of Estoclet, Fleming and Reber, all of whom are freshman, has now scored five goals on the season and shows great promise to accomplish even more.
The first two periods of play were closer than they should have been, according to Wyman.
"We came out strong but about half way into the first, we started playing down to their level, which against any opponent is a bad thing," Wyman said. "We need to find ways to play 60-minute hockey games."
On the game, the Big Green's five goals came from five different players, which Wyman said was a good sign for the rest of the season.
"That is definitely big for us," Wyman said. "As the season progresses we are going to need more and more guys to step up. It was also a great game by Dan Goulding and it was big for us that he stepped up."
Shields agreed on the significance of a balanced scoring attack.
"It shows how deep our team is," Shields said. "Everyone can contribute and that is an important part of having a winning team. There isn't too much stress put on any one player, everyone on the team can come through."
Goulding still sees areas the team must focus on improving, however.
"There is always room for improvement," Goulding said. "Every week we are looking to get better, looking to improve in every aspect of our game. We have a young and very talented team that has the ability to string together wins, we just can't take any nights off."
The Big Green returns to action Dec. 1, when the team takes on traveling partner and ECACHL foe Harvard (5-2-0, 4-2-0 ECACHL) in Cambridge, Mass. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at Harvard's Bright Hockey Center.