Men’s hockey takes on Harvard at home in preseason matchup
Drew O’Connor, pictured here last season, scored two goals in the preseason matchup with Harvard.
Though the season doesn’t officially start for another two weeks, the Big Green men’s hockey team took to its home ice this Saturday in a preseason matchup with the Harvard University Crimson, dropping the game 4-2.
After a small buzzer mishap, both teams got right down to it with Big Green goaltender Adrian Clark ’20 coming up with a huge save in the first minute. Dartmouth seemed to control the next couple minutes, but a tripping offense gave the Crimson an early lead off a power play. The remainder of the period was back-and-forth, with some strong attempts by the home team that just couldn’t quite find the back of the net. With one minute remaining in the first period, Harvard scored again off a loose puck; another penalty with 32 seconds remaining gave Harvard a second chance and they capitalized with yet another goal with only two seconds left on the clock.
Though the first period may have been tough, the Big Green came out with an intensity and fire that Harvard just couldn’t match in the second period. Drew O’Connor ’22 scored the first of his two goals in the fourth minute off an assist from Quinn Foreman ’21. His second goal came only four minutes later, with an assist from Collin Rutherford ’21 and Foreman for the second time. Dartmouth dominated the second period, denying Harvard the potential of increasing their lead and outshooting them 9-7.
“I think when we got the puck in the offensive zone, that’s kind of our game, we cycled the puck well and I think that was our strength,” O’Connor said. “It felt pretty good [to score], it was good to get a scrimmage in since we start playing in a couple weeks. It felt good to get out there against a different team. It was a good game, felt good with my linemates and everything.”
With the score now 3-2, it was clear that the game was dependent on the outcome of the third period. The Big Green came out strong with a lot of early chances, but Harvard goaltender Mitchell Gibson, who was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 2018 draft, came through for the Crimson with several big saves. Five minutes into the period, Harvard was penalized for having too many players on the ice, resulting in a power play which eventually turned into a five-on-three in Dartmouth’s favor after a Harvard player was called for goaltender interference. Unfortunately, the Big Green was unable to capitalize on this power play, and the Crimson players returned to the ice with the score of the game held at 3-2.
“I think we’re a lot better than we were out there today, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said captain Brendan Demler ’21. “It’s a really short preseason so we haven’t had time to work on specialty teams a ton or our breakouts, our d-zone. It’s just something we need to work on and we’ll get there.”
Demler added that the team brought a lot of energy to the game.
“We were working the puck down low pretty well,” he said. “And just trying to get the puck over the goal line more and get some more shots is what we need to focus on.”
The remainder of the period was fairly back-and-forth, with both teams coming up with some great plays. But with five minutes remaining, the Big Green suffered two penalties two minutes apart from one another, and Harvard took advantage of the ensuing five on three, scoring with two minutes and 30 seconds remaining.
Reflecting on the game, head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 said he was certain that the Big Green was the better team, but that consistency is key.
“In terms of our strength, our physicality, we got better as the game progressed,” Gaudet said. “First period we were just okay, second and third I thought we were good and what hurt us was a couple late goals in the first period — and that’s gonna be something that we have to make uncharacteristic for us. I thought we were going pretty good, and I liked the level of intensity we had, but I think we were a little off in some of the finer points, the details, and that’s what we’ve got to continue to work on.”
Special teams and power plays played a large role in the outcome of the game, but with some work, O’Connor said he believes that the Big Green will come out on top when Dartmouth takes on Harvard in the first official game of the season two weekends from now.
“I think we played a solid game against them,” O’Connor said. “The biggest thing was just special teams — they beat us on special teams, we didn’t score on our power play and they got a few on theirs. I think cleaning that up will definitely play a big aspect but I think we can definitely win the next game.”