Men’s hockey skates to 3-3 tie with Harvard

by Gayne Kalustian | 11/3/14 5:14pm

Dartmouth skated onto the ice in the second period of Saturday’s game against Harvard University and finished off a penalty kill — an accomplishment, as in the team’s exhibition matches, the Big Green went 2-6 on penalty kills.

The improvement, captain Tyler Sikura ’15 said, results from the team’s mounting experience together.

“It’s not an exhibition game where everyone is still kind of trying out for their position and seeing where each other fit,” he said. “Now that we’ve had an actual game people kind of know what their role is and the games mean something, and they understand where they fit so it kind of came together really quickly.”

In a back-and-forth battle at Harvard, the men’s ice hockey team officially opened the season, tying the Crimson 3-3. The game left both teams at 0-0-1 and 0-0-1 ECAC.

Dartmouth opened a lead against Harvard twice, but the team could not hold onto the advantage as the Crimson continually fought back.

Not unlike how the Big Green came out against Brown University last weekend, Dartmouth dominated the ice in the first 10 minutes of the game, keeping Harvard in its defensive zone. The intensity continued through an early power play for Dartmouth after Harvard put too many men on the ice. Dartmouth attacked the goal on the power play, shooting the puck, which become lodged in a Crimson player's equipment. The referee, calling the puck dead, blew a quick whistle as it crossed the crease. The goal didn't count..

Redemption came near the midway point of the period when Brandon McNally ’15 evaded a two-man trap in the corner and set up Rick Pinkston ’15 on the point. Pinkston fired the puck past senior goaltender Steve Michalek, whose line of sight was shrouded by at least two Crimson players and Sikura. Eric Robinson ’14 was credited with the secondary assist.

Dartmouth’s celebration of its first season goal was cut short when, just 14 seconds later, the Crimson scored a retaliation goal after defenseman River Rymsha ’18 missed the puck on an attempted clear and opened up the shot for Harvard sophomore Alexander Kerfoot. The goal marked a transition to a balanced flow of play for the remainder of the period.

The Big Green, Sikura said, are hoping to lock down that control in the later stages of games.

“I think that sometimes, when it’s going really well, you start to kind of press and make it easier for yourself, and we kind of got away from doing the things that were making us successful in the first place,” he said. “It’s just a matter of staying on top of it.”

The teams traded possession for the rest of the period until Brad Schierhorn ’16 was sent to the box for boarding with 48 seconds remaining, splitting the penalty kill between the end of the first and beginning of the second period.

With a high-pressure situation in the first minutes, the Big Green kept its composure against the man advantage, goaltender James Kruger ’16 said.

“We were able to pinpoint what they were doing right away,” he said. “At the beginning of their power play, they were giving it to [junior Jimmy] Vesey in the corner, and he was just trying to turn it around and stuff it through the back door. The guys did a great job at keying in on that backdoor option.”

Both teams scored twice more in the game. The first of Dartmouth’s came immediately after a decisive draw win by Sikura, who fed Robinson. Robinson’s goal from the top of the circle tied the game at 2-2 after Harvard senior Patrick McNally notched an unassisted goal.

“Scoring is obviously the goal, but faceoff goals are pretty hard to execute,” Robinson said. “First of all, the center man needs to win the draw, and that’s never easy. In my situation, Tyler won the draw straight to my stick so that was perfectly executed.”

Dartmouth took the lead for the last time with just a minute left in second period play after Tim O’Brien ’16 took advantage of a one-on-one matchup, skating toward the corner before passing back to Brandon McNally, who wove between the Crimson to set up in front of the net for the goal.

A third period goal off a failed Dartmouth clear for Harvard brought the game to its eventual 3-3 score, left intact after several defensive plays in overtime by the Big Green.

Harvard, Sikura said, adopted a newer style and faster pace since the last time the teams met on the ice. The teams will next go at it in Thompson Arena in about two weeks.

The team returns to action next weekend, when it travels to New York to face Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction appended (Nov. 4, 2014):

The Big Green's goal was called back when the puck was lodged in a Crimson player's equipment, not due to an inadvertent whistle. The successful penalty kill in the second period was not a "notable accomplishment," as the article initially stated, as critical Big Green players were not playing during several of the unsuccessful exhibition penalty kills.These errors, which were made in the editing process, have been corrected.