Men's hockey upsets No. 1 Terriers

by Gayne Kalustian | 12/1/14 2:53am

A 2-0 victory against No. 1 Boston University brought men’s hockey fans to their feet on Sunday afternoon in Thompson Arena. Dartmouth (4-3-1, 2-3-1 ECAC) controlled the contest, left wing Brad Schierhorn ’16 said, by sticking to what players knew they could do well.

The upset is the first time since 2002that Dartmouth has taken the number one team in the country — then in a nail-biting 5-4 overtime contestagainst Boston College.

“We knew that they were number one, but we didn’t look at them like they were any different than any other top 10 or top 15 team,” Schierhorn said on Sunday. “We stuck to our system.”

The shutout is the second from James Kruger ’16 for Dartmouth — the first coming just over two weeks ago against Brown University. Sunday’s shutout, head coach Bob Gaudet said, was well earned for the junior goaltender, whom Gaudet called “a work horse.”

“He’s an outstanding goalie, and the perseverance that he showed and confidence in his game he has to play how he is now is fabulous,” Gaudet said. “I’m really proud of him.”

Kruger made 23 saves across three periods, 13 of which came in the final period. The Terriers (9-3-1, 6-1-1 ECAC)are known, Schierhorn said, to have dynamite third-period comebacks, and they attempted more than half of the team’s total shots in the game’s final 20 minutes.

The pressure to score came after the Big Green’s strong offensive play in the second period — Dartmouth notched 45 shot attempts in the middle 20 minutes. Though less than half the shots were on target, Schierhorn tallied two goals, five minutes apart, assisted by captain Tyler Sikura ’15 twice and assistant captain Eric Robinson ’14 and defenseman Rick Pinkston ’15 once each.

The first goal, Schierhorn said, was “an early Christmas present” from Sikura, who initially took the puck to the net.

The same four players — joined by the other half of Pinkston’s pairing, Andy Simpson ’15 — were the five on the ice at the timeof both goals.

Though Gaudet has shuffled lines since the beginning of the season, Schierhorn, Sikura and Robinson have shined in the first line, taking responsibility for 10 of the 20 Big Green goals this season. On Sunday, the line did an excellent job coming back on defense but showed their offensive capabilities, Gaudet said.

“Offensively they did a good job of getting shots in down low and in the net,” he said. “That’s their game. That line really does well down low in the offensive zone and are pretty good on the rush, too.”

Kruger, who is the only Dartmouth goaltender to have seen time between the posts this season, is ranked eighth in the league in save percentage. Charles Grant ’16, last season’s reliable starter who is recovering from an early-season injury, suited up for both games and will be ready to play as early as next weekend, Gaudet said, noting that both goalies are suited to the team.

Kruger said he’s focusing on the variables under his own control.

“I show up every day, and if coach calls my number I’m going to do the best I can,” he said on Sunday. “That’s really all I can control. I enjoy it every time I get in the net, and I want to come out and do well for the team. [Tonight’s win] felt good, and we’ll enjoy it, but we’ve got some big road games coming up. So we’ll process it tonight then put it behind us and get ready for our games next weekend.”

The Big Green will play Quinnipiac University on Friday and Princeton University on Saturday.