Big Green men's hockey falls 1-0 at Harvard on Saturday

by Greg O'Sullivan | 12/3/07 3:32am

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Men's hockey could not light the lamp against Harvard Saturday night.
by Jennie Post / The Dartmouth

Dartmouth (4-4-1, 2-4-1 ECACHL) came into the game having won big over Thanksgiving break against the Bentley Falcons, 5-1, in a game that was as lopsided as the score seemed. Harvard (6-2-1, 5-2-1 ECACHL) came in having tied Yale 3-3 last Wednesday, but also having knocked off traditional Hockey East power Boston University 2-1 during the preceding week.

The game was played in front of a packed Harvard crowd, and those who made it to the game certainly got what they paid for. They were treated to an affair that was fought evenly by the two sides throughout its duration.

The first period was largely uneventful, as both defenses prevailed over the opposing offenses. Notably for the Big Green, the period was marked by six blocked shots, which helped senior goalie Mike Devine '08 do his job. Harvard won a powerplay half way through the period when Peter Boldt '10 was called for interference, but it was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. Neither team got off many quality shots. Going into the locker room for the intermission, the two teams were even at 10 shots apiece.

The second period saw more stellar defensive play as the teams battled evenly through another 20 minutes. This time, Harvard outshot Dartmouth 13-7 but the Big Green had moments where it certainly was the more aggressive side, getting a number of very good opportunities around the net.

At the eight-minute mark, Dartmouth got its first power play chance. While taking three shots on goal and numerous shots that missed net during the span of the penalty, the Big Green was unable to capture the lead.

As the powerplay expired, Joe Gaudet '10, returning from a one-game suspension stemming from a late game fight during the Cornell game two weeks ago, almost snuck one in behind Harvard goalie Kyle Richter, but the Crimson netminder was able to make the save.

Two minutes later, Harvard received a powerplay of its own, during which the Big Green proved more offensive despite its man-disadvantage. Assistant captain JT Wyman '08 stole a pass, bringing it in on goal but he, too, was stoned by Richter. Wyman came into the game tied for ninth in ECACHL in points per game, averaging 1.33 points per contest.

Although the third period went much the same as the first two, Harvard captain Mike Taylor was able to grab the goal that proved to be the game-winner. Nearly half way through the period, Harvard's Alex Meintel was called for boarding, giving Dartmouth its second powerplay opportunity of the night.

However it was the Crimson, who capitalized while the Big Green had the man-advantage. Taylor was able to catch the Big Green during a line change, grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and went in on the breakaway. He faked out Devine and squeezed the puck over the line for the shorthanded goal, only his second tally of the season.

Later in the period, the Big Green got an opportunity to tie the game up with another power play but none of the five shots taken were able to beat Richter. Richter, only a sophomore, is now the nation's top goalie, averaging only 1.10 goals against this season while compiling an outstanding save percentage of .964.

The Big Green pulled Devine with 1:16 left in the game, but the extra man proved fruitless, as Dartmouth fell 1-0. Devine finished with 32 saves while Richter finished with 27 stops.

"I'm definitely dissapointed with the fact that we outplayed Harvard but couldn't finish our chances," Dartmouth captain Nick Johnson '08 said. "Harvard had only one, maybe two great chances and they capitalized, but we had many more but we couldn't get it done."

The Big Green now has a month-long break before the next round of ECACHL games and will face-off against non-conference opponents during that span.

Johnson thinks this schedule may help in the team's quest for a league championship.

"We're playing great right now but we are having some tough luck against ECAC teams," Johnson said. "Hopefully we can get some non-conference wins against some good opponents like Boston University and Denver University. If we can stay focused over the winter break and get some wins, then that will help us a lot in ECAC play."

The first of these non-conference games occurs when the team travels to Boston to square off against the BU Terriers on Dec. 13. The Terriers (4-9-2) lost two games to cross-town rival Boston College over the weekend, and has another game next weekend against UMass Lowell before it faces the Big Green. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. start at Agganis Arena.

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