Dartmouth hockey splits games 1-1 at 30th Ledyard Classic
The men’s hockey team finished 1-1 at the 30th Ledyard Classic, defeating Army 5-2 but falling to Providence 5-3.
The men’s hockey team entered the 30th annual Ledyard Classic tournament looking to start the second half of the season on the right note after finishing the first half of the 2018-19 season with three straight losses. The team came up with a 1-1 record.
The four-team tournament, which included the Big Green as well as the U.S. Military Academy, Brown University, and Providence College, was held at Thompson Arena on Dec. 29 and 30.
For Dartmouth, the Ledyard Classic came following a two-week break. Starting goalie Adrian Clark ‘20 believed the teams’ break could not have come at a better time.
“We finished the first half of the season with three straight losses, so I think it was a really well-timed break for us,” Clark said.
Forward Drew O’Connor ‘22 appreciated the opportunity to play in the tournament and face tough non-conference opposition.
“It was good to get in a couple of non-conference games and head into the second half of the season, where we play a lot of ECAC games,” O’Connor said.
The team showed little signs of rust in the opening game, defeating Army 5-2. After Army opened the scoring in the third minute of the game, O’Connor quickly responded with his sixth goal of the season, and the Big Green never looked back.
“It was pretty exciting to be out there,” O’Connor said. “We played really good hockey.”
Only a freshman, O’Connor is tied for the team lead in goals with Quin Foreman ‘20. O’Connor attributes his success to his linemates.
“I play with a couple of really good players, Carl Hesler ‘19 and Jeff Losurdo ‘22,” O’Connor said, “They’re really good about moving the puck and we play really well together. It’s good to be able to contribute.”
The second game of the Ledyard Classic for the Big Green was the championship game of the tournament against the Providence Friars, a top-10 team in the country. Dartmouth appeared to be up to the challenge early, as the Big Green finished the first period with a 2-1 lead. The Friars, however, scored four goals in under four minutes in the second period to pull away.
“We had a really good weekend, aside from about 10 minutes against Providence,” O’Connor said.
Clark echoed a similar sentiment as his teammate.
“We learned a lot playing against Providence,” Clark said. “We only played about 55 minutes of that game, and it wasn’t enough to win. We need to play a full 60 and that will be our key to success going forward.”
The Big Green finished the first half of the season with a 4-6-1 record. All four wins came against teams with winning records at the time, and all four of those teams currently sit in the top 25 of the Pairwise rankings, used to determine which teams make the national tournament.
Clark is happy with the team’s performance in its wins, but notes that consistency will be necessary moving forward.
“That record shows that we’re able to step up our play and rise to the occasion, so it’s a really good sign that we have the skills and tools necessary,” Clark said. “We just need to figure out how to get the other wins against teams not ranked and lower in the standings.”
In his first full year as starting goalie for the Big Green, Clark believes that consistency is something he will need to work on to be successful between the pipes.
“Playing back-to-back games on a weekend has been tough,” he said. “It’s been tough to come back the second night after a win or loss, just to try to not get my head to high or low. I think it’s a big thing for our team to find consistency and play a good game of hockey on both nights.”
Reflecting on the team’s first half of the season, O’Connor was optimistic despite the overall record.
“We had some ups and downs,” O’Connor said. “Every game we’ve lost, we have been right there. We should be set for a pretty good second half of the season.”
The team is hoping to use the first half of season to succeed in the remainder of ECAC conference play, which resumes next weekend.
“We’ve had some really good wins and shown that we are able to play,” Clark said. “I think we need to put it all together. Coming up, we’ve got a couple big weekends where we’ve got league points on the line.”
The Big Green will be on the road the next three weekends, including a final non-conference game against Bentley University this Saturday. Dartmouth will hope to avenge a 5-1 loss to the Falcons last year.
“We hope to get a win there and build some momentum going into the conference games,” O’Connor says.
Following the game against Bentley, the Big Green will have four consecutive conference matchups on the road, including games in tough environments against Cornell University and Quinnipiac University.
“Those are really good teams,” Clark says. “We have won against good teams before, so we just need to rise to the occasion and play an entire 60 minutes.”
O’Connor says the team needs to get off to good starts in the upcoming road games.
“That’s kind of where we have struggled a bit this year, so I think being ready to go from the start of the game is important for us,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor has hope that the Big Green’s non-conference schedule will help the team make a run in conference play.
“The non-conference games prepared us well the last few weeks,” O’Connor said. “I think we can compete with any team in our conference, so it should be a good second half.”
Despite a losing record in non-conference play and being ranked 42nd in the Pairwise rankings, Dartmouth currently sits third in the ECAC standings through seven conference games.
Clark is looking forward to resuming conference play following the final non-conference contest on Saturday.
“We haven’t done great in non-conference games, which isn’t the worst thing because they don’t count towards league play, but they are important because of momentum,” Clark said. “Hopefully, we can come out, play a really good game, and use some momentum for the next two weekends, where the games really matter for playoffs and standings.”