Men’s hockey falls in heartbreaker to No. 1 Cornell, ties Colgate

by Justin Kramer | 1/27/20 2:10am

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Despite holding a 2-1 lead over No. 1 Cornell in the second period Friday, the Big Green could not hold on.

by Elsa Ericksen / The Dartmouth

No. 20 Dartmouth men’s hockey held leads for five different stretches this weekend on a New York road trip, but ultimately fell to No. 1 Cornell University 3-2 and tied Colgate University 3-3. The Big Green now sit in fourth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, settling for just one point in the standings despite playing from behind in only one period across the two games.

Coming into Friday night’s matchup, Dartmouth already held the distinction of being the only team to defeat top-ranked Cornell this season, and the Big Green was hungry to complete the feat again.

“We knew we had another good shot to beat them, but it would be pretty tough doing it at Cornell,” said forward Cam Strong ’20. “But we actually had a lot of confidence going into it. The mindset was to keep playing the way we were playing when we were successful, stick to our identity. We gave them a good fight.”

Strong put the Big Green on the scoreboard first, as defenseman Tanner Palocsik ’23 slapped a shot wide right off the endboards toward Sam Hesler ’22, who kicked the puck to Strong in front of the goal. 

“I went to the netfront initially off of the faceoff, and I saw [Palocsik] pull the trigger,” Strong said. “It was going a bit wide, so what I tried to do is follow that and not go too far to the other side of the net, so I just ended up on the near side.”

Cornell capitalized on a power play eight minutes later to tie the score, but Palocsik gathered a strong rebound off the boards on the left side and punched in his first-career goal to start the second period. The early assist and goal for Palocsik gave him 15 points on the season, the most among rookie defensemen and tied for third-most among all defensemen in the ECAC. Palocsik said he was happy to finally tally his first goal.

“[It was a] pretty special moment, took a while,” Palocsik said. “Some of the guys were getting on me for taking this long — but definitely one I’ll never forget, especially in front of that crowd at Cornell.”

The Big Red came back again 14 minutes later though, and the second period wrapped up with both teams knotted 2-2. Adrian Clark ’20 earned praise from head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 and Palocsik for doing everything in his power to keep it that way. Cornell’s Noah Bauld nearly scored on a breakaway during a Big Red penalty kill three minutes into the third period, but Clark somehow deflected the puck off his right shin guard to preserve the tie.

But despite Clark’s best efforts, Cornell scored a minute later and would not look back, holding on for the 3-2 win. The Big Red offense proved challenging to keep in check, getting off 38 shots compared to only 22 for the Big Green. 

“They play physical and they play fast, so they definitely come at you with a lot, and it’s tough,” Palocsik said. “If you’re not ready for that, it’s going to be a long night, so you’ve got to kind of prepare yourself and do the best you can.”

Gaudet said he applauded the players for their efforts after they nearly toppled Cornell for the second time this season.

“It was a great hockey game, up and down,” Gaudet said. “I know our guys were disappointed that we weren’t able to finish on top of them in this game, but I know it bodes well for us because we played a good hockey game.” After Cornell enacted its revenge upon Dartmouth Friday night, the Big Green tried to get revenge itself against Colgate on Saturday. Right after a three-week Thanksgiving break, the Raiders burned the Big Green 5-1 in Hanover back in December — Dartmouth’s only loss at home this season — in what Strong described as the team’s “worst game of the year.” 

“I think we just wanted to come at them with a little bit more speed and jam with our game,” Palocsik said. “Last time, we were definitely laid back and just let them take it to us, and we didn’t really have an answer.”

For the second straight night, Strong kicked off the scoring, as he corralled a wide shot from defenseman Brock Paul ’23 and dumped it into the net. The assist was Paul’s first career point.

“It’s definitely good to get out ahead, and it kind of keeps the energy up for the team,” Strong said. “Sometimes when you give up an early one it’s kind of deflating, so to get an early one is huge.”

The scoring was even more of a roller coaster in the Colgate game than the previous night, as Dartmouth led 2-1 and 3-2 at times in the second period. Quin Foreman ’21 connected on a power play for his seventh goal of the year off assists from Will Graber ’20 and Drew O’Connor ’22.

Colgate quickly tied it back up, but the Big Green scored its third and final goal as Brendan Demler ’21 hit a streaking Strong with a hard, low pass, allowing Strong to flip the puck into the air and off O’Connor’s stick for the goal. With that goal, O’Connor now stands in a three-way tie for second in goals scored in the ECAC. 

The Raiders needed only three minutes to tie the game back up at 3-3, and the score remained even through the third period despite impressive play from the Big Green.

“As the game progressed, we just got better and better,” Gaudet said. “I honestly thought we dominated in the third period.”

The game nearly slipped away from the Big Green in overtime, as O’Connor was called for a penalty with 2:57 to play and was ejected for disputing the call. Colgate lost its best scoring chance on the power play when the referees blew the whistle with the puck loose inside the crease. 

Dartmouth nearly won the game coming out of the power play, as Foreman came up empty on two close shot attempts, and the Big Green could not convert on a deflection opportunity. Time ran out as Jeff Losurdo ’22 attempted a last-second shot, and the game ended 3-3. 

“At the end of the day, we come out of there with a point, and it’s a good point that we need in the standings — but definitely a win would’ve been sweeter,” Palocsik said. “I think we outplayed them in that final period and definitely could have gotten another one there; we just couldn’t find the net.”

Part of the challenge this past weekend, according to Gaudet, was resting enough to play two tough road games; Dartmouth’s record now sits at 3-5-2 on the road compared to 7-1-2 at home. Gaudet said he is grateful for the support the Big Green receives on home ice and looks forward to returning to Thompson Arena in two weekends against Harvard University. First though, the team must travel to New York again next weekend.

“We’re growing and continue to grow as a team, so we’re looking for a good week of practice this week and to get after it in Troy and Schenectady this weekend versus RPI and Union — two really good battles,” Gaudet said.