Men’s hockey remains in contention in the ECAC

by Addison Dick | 1/28/19 2:15am

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 Forward Shane Sellar ’21 took control of the puck during the Big Green’s 4-1 win against St. Lawrence University.

by Evan Morgan / The Dartmouth

As Eastern College Athletic Conference play heats up, the men’s hockey team sits just two points from the top of the league standings. The team split the past two weekends, with both losses coming to top-15 teams.

On Jan. 18, the Big Green defeated Colgate University 1-0. The game marked the second straight shutout for goaltender Adrian Clark ’20.

“It shows the level of play we are able to maintain,” Clark said. “Especially in conference play, it’s nice to know that we are able to play a full 60 minutes and come out and dominate the game.”

With a 2.17 goals-against average, Clark has provided a spark to the Big Green team. He currently has the fifth-most saves of any goaltender in the ECAC.

“Seeing [Clark] get two straight shutouts was enormous for us,” forward Alex Jasiek ’19 said. “It gave us a lot of confidence playing in front of him and I know it helped us get two big wins. He’s played really well for us all year.”

Jasiek played an important role for the Big Green in the victory over Colgate. He scored the lone goal with fewer than nine minutes remaining in the game.

“Helping the team get a win against Colgate was incredible,” he said. “Whenever we are able to get a road victory is always a good feeling.”

The Big Green struggled the following day in a tough atmosphere against Cornell University. The team allowed five goals despite only allowing 19 shots on goal. Despite the loss, the team still feels good about conference play thus far.

Clark believes the team has successfully transitioned to conference play, where the importance of each game increases.

“We didn’t have the best non-conference luck, so it has been nice to get back to ECAC games and end the year on a good note,” Jasiek said.

The team was happy to return to Hanover for four of five games at Thompson Arena following a five-game road trip, in which the team went 2-2-1. 

“I’m glad we got it over with, but we’ve got a couple more road trips ahead,” Clark said.

The Big Green enjoyed its first game back home last Friday, defeating St. Lawrence University 4-1. Quin Foreman ’21 scored two goals, and Jasiek scored to extend his point streak to four games.

“We did a good job of getting second and third chances off of rebounds, which really added up over the course of the game,” Clark said. “When we have forwards in front of the net tipping pucks, screening and looking for rebounds, it makes it easier to cash in around their crease.”

The team was unable to find its offense the next night against No. 10 Clarkson University, losing 2-0. Just like the game against Cornell, the team outshot its opponent but struggled to find the back of the net despite controlling most of the play. The Big Green finished with 31 shots on goal to the Golden Knights’ 21. Saturday’s game was just the second time the Big Green has been shut out all season. The team is averaging 2.60 goals per game, which ranks eighth among ECAC teams.

“I thought we battled hard both nights this weekend,” Clark said. “They were both close games, so we showed good mental toughness in our ability to close out against St. Lawrence and then battle right until the final buzzer against Clarkson.”

The Big Green (8-10-2, 7-5-1 ECAC) travel to play rival Harvard University for a matchup next Friday. Clark expects another close game. 

“The major thing we didn’t do last time we played them was kill penalties very well, so I am sure we are going to do a lot of video this week so we can sort out those details,” Clark said. “Other than that, we’re just going to go out and play our game, stick to what we do best, and hopefully we can come out with a big two conference points.”

Despite two tough losses the past two weekends, the Big Green remain in contention in the ECAC standings. Tied for fifth place with Quinnipiac University, the team is two points behind Cornell and Yale University for the top spot in the conference. With teams vying for the regular-season title as well as the four first-round byes in the conference tournament, the final five weeks of conference play are shaping up to come down to the wire.

“The next few weekends are huge,” Clark said. 

As the team learned last year, the final weeks of conference play can have a large impact on the team’s postseason success. Last season, the Big Green won seven of its final 11 conference matchups to propel them to a home series in the first round of the ECAC tournament. The Big Green used the home-ice advantage to defeat No. 12 St. Lawrence in a three-game series. 

The Big Green is looking to win the regular season ECAC title for the first time since 2006. 

“In my mind, this team has what it takes to win the ECAC,” Jasiek said. “Our main goal right now is to take the rest of the season one game at a time, one shift at a time, and get two points every game we play. Our ceiling is really high. We have skill, work ethic, talent, and I think we all believe in one another to win the championship.”

The team is also hoping to make a run in the conference tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 39 years.

“We’ve got a really good team, especially a team that can make a run for Lake Placid [home of the ECAC semifinals and finals],” Clark said. “Once you make it [to the ECAC semifinals], all you need is to string together a couple of wins to make the NCAA tournament. I think we’re able to do that. Hopefully, our team peaks at the right time and we continue the momentum that we’ve been building the second half of the season.”