Men's hockey ends Holy Cross's nine game unbeaten streak
Dartmouth men’s hockey kept rolling this weekend (6-8-1), ending the College of the Holy Cross’s (12-7-1) nine-game unbeaten streak, the longest in the NCAA this season. Dartmouth defeated the Crusaders in a 5-2 rout on Sunday after falling in a close 0-1 game against the University of Vermont (9-12-2) the day before.
Against Holy Cross, the Big Green rode a three-goal first period — including two from Brett Patterson ’16 — and stellar play from goaltender Charles Grant ’16 to the win.
The Big Green has struggled at times to put the puck in the net, scoring just 2.33 goals per contest. The team’s issues are due in part to its inability to convert power play opportunities into scores. Heading into Sunday’s game against Holy Cross, the team had connected on just five of their 43 chances, including going 0-4 in their loss to Vermont. On Sunday night in Thompson arena, however, the team finally found its groove, knocking home a power play goal with their first chance.
Holy Cross and Dartmouth each recorded 11 shots on net in the first period, but the clear difference between the teams was the play of Dartmouth netminder Grant, who has played some of his best hockey in the past few games.
Last weekend, Grant guided Dartmouth to a title in the Ledyard Classic, where he was named Top Goalie of the All-Tournament team. He posted a .50 goals-against-average and a .975 save percentage, topping the conference in both categories.
Grant continued his hot streak over the weekend, allowing a lone goal against Vermont and stonewalling Holy Cross for most of the night. He took home ECAC Conference Goaltender of the Week honors but said that he remains focused on the road ahead.
“Confidence is the biggest thing for goaltending,” Grant said. “Any type of award, I appreciate, but to be honest it does not change my preparation for the next week because you are only as good as your last game, and if you dwell on accolades it kind of gets in your head. Just move onto the next week and start practicing.”
Grant also received some help from his defense, including on a few shots that were past the goalie and seemingly headed for the net.
“Chuck battled and weathered a huge storm early for us” Patterson said. “You are trying to do anything you can to help your goalie out when he’s trying to battle and make saves, but he can only do so much when he’s selling out on the first, second, third, even fourth shot sometimes so you have got to be there to back him up when he’s sliding out of position to make that extra save.”
The win was a great rebound for the team after a tough loss against the Catamounts in which Dartmouth outshot its opponents 39-25.
“Well I thought the Vermont game was the best game we played this year,” head coach Bob Gaudet said. “I think on another night that’s a 4-1 win. We were absolutely fabulous from the drop of the puck to the final whistle. We did not score on the power play, but we had some really good opportunities.”
The team is currently without Nick Bligh ’16, who is dealing with a shoulder injury that could keep him out for a few weeks. Bligh was named the MVP of the Ledyard Classic and the NCAA’s Third Star of the Week after a five-point effort in the team’s wins over Robert Morris (13-6-3) and then-No. 20 Merrimack (7-9-5). With Bligh out, different players are stepping up. Patterson, who has played all five positions, paced the Dartmouth offense with a career-high two goals against Holy Cross.
“[Patterson] was just fabulous tonight [against Holy Cross],” Gaudet said. “Just every facet of the game. And what goes unnoticed sometimes is the defensive part of his game because he stripped a couple guys in the neutral zone on back checks and turned it around.”
Gaudet noted that Patteron has the poise to just possess the puck, which is difficult to do in games, and is a versatile player who plays with tremendous confidence.
The Big Green’s win on Sunday snapped the longest active winning streak in the NCAA this season. Before its game against Dartmouth, Holy Cross was unbeated in its last nine games, picking up eight wins and one draw.
Now finished with non-conference games for the season, Dartmouth will play back-to-back home games against Clarkson University (8-9-2) and St. Lawrence University (10-7-2) next Friday and Saturday.