Women's hockey still looks to find its midseason stride

by Sam Stockton | 1/10/16 8:32pm

Seamore Zhu/The Dartmouth Staff

The women’s hockey team’s losing streak stretched to nine games following back-to-back losses to No. 10 Colgate University and unranked Cornell University at Thompson Arena on Friday and Saturday. The Big Green (4-11-2, 4-5-2 ECAC) struck first in both contests before falling 4-2 and 5-3, respectively. The team feels that every weekend it comes closer to restoring the form they showed earlier in the season, said head coach Mark Hudak. The Big Green’s first win since its 2-0 Nov. 14 victory against Union College, however, remains elusive. “They’re frustrated,” Hudak said. “They’re upset. They want to win. We’re there. We’re close and getting over that hump is the hard part. You just have to keep on working on it. I think they’ve done a good job of sticking together and believing that it’s going to happen.” Working through the frustration is a focus of the team, co-captain Catherine Berghuis ’16 said, adding that the key is keeping faith in one another. “We need to stay together,” she said. “Coach was saying after the game that at a time like this, we’ve had a losing streak or whatever you want to call it even though we’ve been playing a little bit better, you can’t break up. As a team, you need to play together. You can’t lose each other and you can’t try to do it yourself. You can’t have one line doing one thing and the next one playing off a different sheet of music. We need to stay together and still be positive moving forward.” Kennedy Ottenbreit ’17 opened the scoring on Friday night with her seventh goal of the season coming with under two minutes to play in the first period. Olivia Whitford ’16 and Brooke Ahbe ’18 assisted the goal. The game was Ahbe’s first since the Nov. 14 match-up with Union, having missed nearly two months due to injury. The Big Green held the lead until the 18:53 mark of the second period when Raiders’ center Breanne Wilson-Bennett beat Dartmouth goaltender Robyn Chemago ’17. The Raiders tallied another goal less than a minute later to take a 2-1 lead before heading into the locker room for the second intermission. Early in the third, Wilson-Bennett struck again and the Big Green trailed 3-1. Just under ten minutes later, Lindsey Allen ’16 scored her team-leading ninth goal of the season to cut the lead in half. However, the Raiders notched an empty-net goal with only fifteen seconds to play, which cemented the Big Green’s eighth straight defeat. On Saturday afternoon, co-captain Laura Stacey ’16 tallied an unassisted goal just 30 seconds into the team’s match-up with Cornell, and, at least for a moment, the team appeared poised to snap the streak. Stacey, coming off a gold medal for the Canadian National Women’s Development Team in the Nations Cup, had returned to the Big Green lineup against Colgate. “It’s definitely pretty tough just with the time change and the long day of travel, but it’s totally worth it to come back to play with your teammates,” Stacey said. “I’m glad I made it back in time for both these games.” Despite these difficulties, Stacey registered an assist in the Colgate game and two goals and an assist against Cornell while generating several other quality scoring opportunities for her team. The Big Green lead was barely two minutes old when Cornell center Taylor Woods scored to tie the game. After one successful Dartmouth penalty kill, Christian Higham was able to beat Shannon Ropp ’19 for a power play goal on Cornell’s second opportunity of the afternoon. Ropp was making her first career start and had not appeared at all since an exhibition game against McGill University. She appeared tentative early in the game but found her stride and eventually authored a twenty-four save effort. Hudak said he thought Ropp did a really good job and competed well. “Early on, it almost looked like she might be a little bit nervous, but I thought she settled right in and did a really nice job for us in net,” Hudak said. Early in the second frame and trailing 2-1, Emma Korbs ’17 set up Stacey beautifully at the bottom of the circle, and Stacey roofed the puck past Cornell goalie Marlene Boissonnault to tie the game. As had been the story of the weekend for the team, the Big Green was unable to build on their momentum and instead surrendered a late second-period goal while on the power play, making the score a 3-2 Cornell at the second intermission. “We felt like we were out-battling them, out-playing them in the second and then for them to score a goal like that on a rush, especially a short-handed goal, it’s definitely tough,” Berghuis said An early Cornell goal was immediately answered when Ailish Forfar ’16 found the net, bringing the score to 4-3, but that was as close as the Big Green would get. Higham scored again with just over six minutes to play and the Big Green’s attempted rally came up short. In the defeat, there were no tremendous lapses, but rather several smaller mishaps that ultimately proved highly detrimental. “I thought the effort on our part was really great tonight,” Hudak said. “We played aggressively. We went after them, but it was death by paper cuts. We make one mistake here and they always seemed to take advantage of it, or we lose momentum. I really thought that was the tale of the game.” Berghuis noted the difficulty in always attempting to come back from behind. “It’s tough to go back and forth like that,” she said. “They get one goal and we fire back and then they get another one right back. It’s hard to play from behind like that. You’re trying to get the team going on the bench, and it’s definitely hard to come back from that.” The team will go on the road next weekend, with match-ups against Clarkson and St. Lawrence Universities for its next opportunity to snap the skid.