Men's hockey bests Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals

by Jake Philhower | 1/29/18 2:15am

by Tiffany Zhai / The Dartmouth

Dartmouth men’s hockey has been successful as of late, toppling some of the best teams in the country and playing very strong hockey. Last weekend, the Big Green went on its yearly “North Country” trip, playing games at St. Lawrence University and Clarkson University. This has historically been a very difficult road trip for the Big Green as the men have only won both away games once in the past five years, during the 2013-14 season. This road trip is one of the key points for the Big Green during the Eastern College Athletic Conference schedule and often serves a benchmark showing how the team is progressing. Both opponents on this road trip have historic backgrounds and are regular contenders in the ECAC.

On Friday, Jan. 19, the Big Green made the trip up to St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York to face off in the first game of the road trip. Dartmouth jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period after an even strength goal from Charley Michalowski ’20. In both the second and third period each team scored a goal; however the Big Green was able to hold on and deliver a key 3-2 win.

In the second game of the weekend, the Big Green knew it had a big challenge as it was slated to play against Clarkson, the then No. 2 team in the nation. Clarkson had a 15 game-unbeaten streak coming into the game and was unbeaten in ECAC play.

“Going into that game, we knew we had to bring our best because they hadn’t lost in the ECAC yet, and we just tried to stick to our systems, cut down on their scoring chances and convert on our opportunities since we knew we wouldn’t get many,”Alex Jasiek ’19 said.

The Big Green rose to the challenge and played a solid all-around game, not only holding its own defensively but capitalizing on the few chances that Clarkson’s tough defense allowed. Matt Baker ’21 delivered key goals late in the game and eventually buried the winning goal early in the third period. The Dartmouth defense was then able to hold off the Clarkson attack and deliver a huge win for the team.

“We have been playing very well lately,” Collin Rutherford ’21 said. “I think Clarkson was a good test for us. We had really good defensive and offensive play from everyone on the team. Our goaltending has also been phenomenal and has been keeping us in games. It was great team effort.”

A win away at Clarkson showed that the Big Green had made big strides since the beginning of the season which featured several disappointing losses. Dartmouth’s play on the ice seems to be trending in the right direction, which is good news for the men in green with the ECAC playoffs on the horizon.

This weekend, the Dartmouth hockey team had a key homestand against Colgate University and Cornell University. Both foes have had strong showings in ECAC play this year and would both proved to be tough opponents for the Big Green. Colgate has produced a respectable .500 record in ECAC play this year. The match proved to be a nail biter as it was tied at one for a majority of the game after the Big Green and Colgate posted a lone goal in the first period. Finally, with just under eight minutes left in the third period, Tim Shoup ’18 delivered the game-winning goal to propel the Big Green to a key victory.

On Saturday, the Big Green faced another tough test against Cornell. The Big Red has had a fantastic season, rolling over its ECAC competition and posting dominant performances against stiff competition. Cornell was ranked No. 2 in the nation prior to this weekend, but an argument can be made that it should be the top-ranked team in the nation because of its clear dominance.

The Big Green put up a good performance, staying within one goal of the entire game until Cornell posted an empty net goal to seal the win. Playing in his 100th career game for the Big Green, Shoup was able to find the back of the net and score against one of the nation’s top goaltenders, Matthew Galajda. Nonetheless, the Big Green suffered a tough 3-1 loss as Cornell clinched the Ivy League Championship.

“We obviously don’t want to be content with losing, but a 3-1 empty net loss to Cornell is a good measure of where we are as a team right now,” Brendan Demler ’21 said. “Everyone is very confident with our play heading forward.”

The Dartmouth penalty kill also had a strong showing, killing both penalties called against the Big Green. Throughout the season, the Big Green has had a strong penalty kill, which will be key going forward as the ability to recover from critical mistakes becomes increasingly important in playoff hockey.

Looking forward, the Big Green has consistently been posting solid performances against tough competition, showing it will not be an easy out in the ECAC playoffs.

“We had a bumpy start to the season, but since we went to Denver in December — we have really turned things around,” Rutherford said after the Cornell game. “We’ve proven we can hang with the best in the country, and we are absolutely a team that could make a deep run in the playoffs.”

The Big Green currently sits at 9-11-2 overall and 7-7-1 in ECAC play. The team is slated to play against Harvard University on Feb. 2. It is clearly focused on this game, not because it is a high-profile game, but simply because this is the next test for the Big Green and an important game for seeding in the ECAC tournament.