Hockey rebounds to defeat top-10 teams

by Blaze Joel | 11/27/11 11:00pm

Looking to rebound after back-to-back disappointing games last weekend, the Dartmouth women's hockey team defeated two top-10 opponents during Thanksgiving week. The team beat ninth-ranked Harvard University on the road on Wednesday before winning against 10th-ranked Northeastern University on Saturday in Hanover.

Co-captain Kelly Foley '12 said the contest against Harvard (5-4-0, 5-2-0 ECAC) was a significant victory for the team.

"Harvard is a whole different atmosphere," Foley said. "It's League, it's Ivy and it's Harvard."

The Crimson began the game in strong form, scoring on a power-play goal just 39 seconds into the game. Foley said the goal was a "fluke" and did not faze the Big Green.

"We never lost confidence," she said.

Dartmouth (5-4-1, 4-2-1 ECAC) settled down after the early one-up, and the rest of the first period was very evenly matched. The Big Green registered eight shots on net and the Crimson notched nine against goalie Lindsay Holdcroft '14.

Despite being outshot by a significant margin in the second period, the Big Green was able to seize control of the game.

Just 10 seconds after Dartmouth failed to convert on a power play about halfway through the period, Margaux Sharp '13 let a low shot fly from the point. The puck went straight to Foley, who dumped it off to Sally Komarek '13. Komarek's shot was saved, but Foley collected the rebound and buried the puck into an empty net. The goal ended a scoreless streak for the Big Green that had spanned over nine periods.

Komarek said the goal provided a "huge sigh of relief," adding that the work the team put in during practice last week, when it concentrated on being physical in front of the net, was crucial in breaking through against Harvard.

About three minutes later, co-captain Jenna Hobeika '12 slid the puck from behind the Crimson net to Camille Dumais '13, who shot past Harvard junior goalie Laura Bellamy to give the Big Green the lead. The team held the lead for the remainder of the period.

The third period was hard fought, with neither team gaining an advantage until Sasha Nanji '13 scored an insurance goal with three minutes remaining in the game.

Nanji's tally proved to be critical for the Big Green, as the Crimson responded with its own goal with just 45 seconds remaining. Harvard then pulled Bellamy from goal in favor of an extra attacker, but was unable to capitalize on any scoring opportunities.

Holdcroft turned away 27 shots throughout the entire game, helping produce the Big Green's second top-10 upset in three weeks. Dartmouth only tallied 19 shots on net, but finished its chances well.

The win gave the team confidence before its game against Northeastern (10-4-0, 5-2-0 Hockey East) on Saturday.

"We tried to build off of it," Komarek said. "We tried to keep the emotional high and defend what we had just created to establish ourselves in the rankings again."

Dartmouth got off to another slow start against the Huskies, giving up a goal 1:26 into the game. The Big Green continued to work hard on defense in a bid to protect goalie Katie Milligan '15, who was making her second collegiate appearance in the game.

"We wanted to play well for Katie," Komarek said. "She held strong when we left her out to dry."

The Big Green gained a power-play advantage six minutes later. Just under a minute in, Foley slid the puck to Sharp, who collected it on the blue line and ripped a shot into the net past Northeastern senior goalie Florence Schelling. The game entered the first intermission tied at one.

Both teams came out firing in the second period, but Milligan was up to the task, turning away all 15 shots she faced in the frame. Dartmouth tallied 13 shots in the period.

With just under eight minutes left in the period, Jessica Gagner '13 unleashed a shot from the top of the circle. The puck was batted around in front of the net, eventually popping up towards the rafters. Foley artfully nabbed it out of the air and dropped it to her stick, hammering it into the open net for the lead.

A similar sequence occurred in the third period, when Morgan Illikainen '15 shot on net from the red line. The shot ramped off Hobeika's stick and popped into the air, and Komarek collected the puck and fired into the net for a 3-1 lead.

The Big Green could not hold the lead, however, as the Huskies clawed their way back into the game with two goals in the third. With time winding down, Northeastern freshman and Team USA standout Kendall Coyne, who had already scored two goals in the period, collected the puck in her defensive zone. She embarked on an end-to-end journey that left her one-on-one with Milligan, but Milligan blocked the shot, sending the game to overtime.

The Huskies dominated from the beginning of the overtime period. They tallied two quick shots against the Big Green, but Milligan stood tall and the Dartmouth defense allowed the team to break out of its defensive zone.

The Big Green turned the tide when Dumais passed the puck to Hobeika in the offensive zone. Hobeika let it fly from the circle and her shot sailed high, but Komarek collected the puck behind the net and made her way towards the front. She cut inside the defender and shot a backhander towards the near post. Caught off guard, Schelling could not get there and the shot found the back of the net.

"It was an exciting way to cap off the week," Komarek said.

The win marked Dartmouth's third win against a top-10 opponent this season, and its second of the week. It was also the team's first win at Thompson Arena this season.

Dartmouth next plays against Harvard on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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