A power play goal with 15.9 seconds remaining by captain Laura Stacey ’16 propelled the women’s hockey team to a thrilling exhibition victory in its season opener against McGill University. The Big Green outshot the Martlets 27-19 on its way to a 2-1 victory.
“In the beginning of the game, we did a good job of coming out with some energy,” head coach Mark Hudak said. “We played very aggressively, and we played with some confidence. Then at the end of the game, we played with energy, and we played with some discipline.”
The Big Green opened the game playing an aggressive “two-in” forecheck with two forwards pursuing every puck in the offensive zone. This forecheck put tremendous pressure on the Martlets’ defense, which struggled to break out of McGill’s zone cleanly for the entire first period. For the Big Green, however, that aggressive forecheck coincided with a series of early penalties.
“There were a ton of penalty kills early on, which kind of took the momentum away from us, but we were able to kill them really well,” Stacey said. “We denied a lot of entries, which made it a lot easier for our D[efense] and our forwards to get the puck out. We made it really difficult for them to set up where the wanted to be, and we took away time and space.”
With aggressive and efficient penalty killing, the Big Green prevented McGill from capitalizing on its three first-period power plays.
On the third of those power plays, Devon Moir ’17 pounced on a loose puck and generated a short-handed breakaway. Charging toward the net, Moir was hooked from behind by McGill defenseman Emily Davies and awarded a penalty shot. Moir came in quickly before firing the puck through McGill goaltender Taylor Hough’s five hole.
“I’ve gone against [Moir] a couple times in the shootout in practice, so I kind of know her moves,” Dartmouth netminder Robyn Chemago ’17 said. “She faked a shot, and the goalie bit but had a really good seal on the ice. [Moir] got her to open up the five hole enough to get it in. I thought for a while that she didn’t score. She came in with a lot of speed, and that’s how you get goalies to bite.”
In the second period, the Big Green transitioned from the aggressive two-in forecheck they employed in the first frame to a 1-2-2.
“[The 1-2-2 strategy] seems more passive, but it’s really not,” Hudak said. “I think when we did that, we were struggling a little bit in terms of our positioning. It forces you to be a little more disciplined, and it took us a little while to adjust to it, but I thought we ended up doing a good job.”
As the Big Green adjusted to its shift in forechecking approach, the Martlets took advantage with a goal by McGill right wing Pamela Psihogios, assisted by Kelsie Moffatt. The Martlets generated traffic in front of goalie Shannon Ropp ’19, who spent the second period in net, before Moffatt sent a cross-ice pass to Psihogios, who managed to send the puck past Ropp.
Hudak gave each of his three goaltenders a period of play in the exhibition match-up and was happy with the result, he said. Chemago started, Ropp played the second period and Christie Honor ’19 closed the game, earning the win.
“I though all three of our goalies played really well,” Hudak said.
Each Dartmouth goalie made six saves, with Ropp surrendering McGill’s lone goal.
When asked about the play of her freshmen back-ups, Chemago’s face lit up.
“They were awesome — they did so well,” Chemago said. “I was really proud of them. Two really great girls, and they work really hard. I think that shows in how they did. Everyone trusted them.”
The game’s pivotal sequence came with under a minute to play. McGill winger Psihogios — who tallied the Martlets only goal — was whistled for hooking at the 19:31 mark of the third period. Hudak called his only timeout in anticipation of the coming Big Green power play.
“It was nothing special — we wanted to give our girls a little rest, and we wanted to make sure our power play unit knew what we wanted to do off the draw,” Hudak said.
On the second face-off of the ensuing power play, Kennedy Ottenbreit ’17 won the puck back to Eleni Tebano ’17, who fed a pass across the ice to Stacey. Stacey one-timed a slap shot through net-front traffic and past Hough for the game-winning goal.
“We knew we had a power play, and that’s really exciting when there’s not a lot of time left in a tie game,” Stacey said. “When we had a draw and [Ottenbreit] won it back, I knew this was it. They kind of parted the sea there, and I wound up just hoping that my teammates could get in front of the net, screen the goalie and take away her eyes, which they did. There were so many people in front, I just tried to get it on net and, fortunately enough, it hit the back of the net.”
The goal, coming with just under 16 seconds to play, ended the Martlets hopes of leaving Thompson Arena with a victory.
Despite the win, Hudak said that his team has plenty to correct in anticipation of its regular season opener against Harvard University.
“I think our support players have to do a better job of supporting both defensively and offensively,” Hudak said. “I think we need to value the puck a little more. It almost felt like we were a little lackadaisical with the puck at times, not really wanting to possess it as much as we could have.”
Despite these foibles, the Big Green will enter the season feeling optimistic on the heels of a stirring, last-second victory over McGill.
Dartmouth will return to action in Thompson Arena on Friday, Oct. 23, against Harvard.