Women’s hockey drops Tuesday night showdown with Maine

by Alex Brown | 11/11/15 6:01pm

Facing strong performances from their opponent’s penalty kill unit and goalie, the women’s hockey team fell 4-1 to the University of Maine at Thompson Arena on Tuesday night. The Big Green (2-2-2, 2-1-2 ECAC) struggled to finish off many of its chances offensively, especially on the power play.

Despite out-shooting Maine (6-6, 3-4 AEC) with a wide margin of 27-16 over the course of the game and earning three power plays, Dartmouth — first in the Eastern College Athletic Conference in power play conversion at 31.8 percent — failed to score during any of its man-advantage opportunities and only scored once on even ice.

Despite the team’s impressive record with power plays, Dartmouth is actively working to reduce its dependency on those goals to get on the scoreboard so the team can still perform against an opponent that kills these power plays, Lindsey Allen ’16 said.

“We’ve definitely been working the past couple of years on trying to score more even-strength goals, but we do tend to score a lot on the power play,” Allen said. “When we can’t score [on the power play,] it tends to frustrate a lot of people.”

While the Big Green managed to kill both of Maine’s power plays, it also proved unable to capitalize on any of its own three opportunities. Allen credited the Maine defense with being efficient on the penalty kill.

“Their defense was able to clear out the rebound, and we weren’t able to put it in, which definitely benefitted them,” Allen said. “They had a lot of people that collapsed to the net, and we just couldn’t get it by them. We played decently well — we just couldn’t get it past their goalie.”

Head coach Mark Hudak said he felt that something was just not clicking Tuesday night for his team, which had been scoring 2.8 goals per game coming into the matchup.

“I just don’t think we were quite ‘on’ tonight. We weren’t finishing on some of the chances that we had, and I think in some of our decisions we tried to rush it a little bit,” Hudak said.

Both Hudak and Allen pointed to the strength of Maine’s goaltender Mariah Fujimagari as a major hurdle in the match. Fujimagari recorded a save percentage of 96 percent, stopping a total of 26 shots across three periods of play, while Dartmouth goaltender Christie Honor ’19 managed only 12 saves in comparison.

Following exciting ECAC matchups against Ivy League rivals Brown and Yale Universities this past weekend, a letdown game on a weekday against a non-conference opponent might have been a reasonable expectation. Alternate captain Kennedy Ottenbreit ’17 stressed, however, that the team sees every game as an important opportunity. She said the team does not look at the game against Maine as less important, but instead tries to see it as another opportunity to improve its play.

“Yes, you focus on Ivy because you know it’s Ivy, but you don’t really think of [the non-conference games] any differently,” Ottenbreit said. “You just prepare the same, and we were hoping that we could take this game to get better for our in-conference games.”

Dartmouth’s one goal in the game came early in the second period. Ottenbreit corralled a loose puck in the offensive zone, took a shot that was blocked, collected the rebound and dumped the puck over to her teammate Morgan Turner ’18, who buried the puck in the net for the goal. This scrappy goal was an important response to keep them in the game having conceded a Maine’s second goal only three minutes earlier, Ottenbreit said.

“I think we got the puck to the net when we needed to,” Ottenbreit said. “We just honestly kept trying to bat it in. [Turner] tried. I tried. We just kept trying, and I kind of hit it over to her and she put it in. It was just a scramble.”

Dartmouth will move back into ECAC play this weekend when it will face Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College. Hudak said that these teams will provide a tough test for the Big Green.

“[RPI and Union] are really frustrating. They’ll be pretty stingy with their defense. RPI’s got a very good goalie this year,” Hudak said. “We’re going to have to come out and play a really good solid game through all of our players, and I think if we’re able to do that, we’ll be successful.”

The Big Green will first face RPI on Friday at 7 p.m., and the Union matchup will start Saturday at 4 p.m. Both games will take place at home at Thompson Arena.