Men's hockey jumps to third place in ECAC with pair of home wins
The Big Green earned a pair of victories this weekend, besting Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University.
Dartmouth men’s hockey won two games on its home ice twice this past weekend, defeating league opponents Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University. With the wins, the Big Green moved into a four-way tie for third place in the Eastern College Athletic Conference standings.
On Friday, the Clarkson Golden Knights came into Thompson Arena ready for battle. The No. 7 team in the country and first place in the ECAC, Clarkson was the clear favorite, but the Big Green has proven its ability to beat top teams in the conference. On Dec. 7, Dartmouth defeated Cornell University, now ranked No. 1 in the nation, 2-1 at home.
In the first period on Friday, the Big Green and Golden Knights went back and forth, with goalie Adrian Clark ’20 coming up with a number of key saves to keep the game scoreless.
Early into the second period, Collin Rutherford ’21 got Dartmouth on the board with an unassisted goal to open the scoring. Less than two minutes later, Clarkson’s Josh Dunne tied the game, a score which would hold for only six more minutes, at which point Will Graber ’20 found the puck high in the offensive zone off a pass from Matt Baker ’21, taking his time with the puck before cutting back to find an open shooting lane — quickly taking advantage of his space and putting the Big Green ahead once again.
Clark ensured that the game would not get away from the Big Green for the remainder of the second frame and into the third period. Though Clarkson tied the game again with 10 minutes remaining, Clark’s 12 huge saves in the final period (out of 28 overall) kept the Big Green in the game so that with three minutes remaining, Tyler Campbell ’23 scored his third goal of the season to give the Big Green its second top-10 win.
“We had a really good week of practice leading up to this weekend, and the guys were just very focused and well prepared and played with a lot of confidence against both teams — in a good way,” said head coach Bob Gaudet ’81. “That confidence comes from being prepared. When we got on the ice Friday night, we knew we were playing a great team and a really highly ranked team nationally. The team just played super, it was really quite a battle.”
Entering the game on Saturday night against St. Lawrence, the Big Green knew exactly what it needed to do. Despite facing an early deficit, the Big Green picked up its play in order to eventually come away with the 3-1 win. Three different players found the back of the net: Cam Strong ’20, Graber for his second of the weekend and Drew O’Connor ’22 with his 11th of the season. After St. Lawrence scored the first goal of the game, the Big Green dominated the ice and allowed no more goals, capitalizing on power plays and penalty kills.
“Our team is playing just a really good brand of hockey right now,” said captain Brendan Demler ’21. “It’s something to be really excited about, and we put ourselves in a really good position in the standings to do something special down the stretch here. I think we’re in a good place where we’re recognizing what makes us successful.”
On Saturday night, the program honored three alums who went on to play in the National Hockey League. Ben Lovejoy ’06 has been helping the team as a volunteer coach throughout the season, while Tanner Glass ’07 and Lee Stempniak ’05 returned as honorees.
“It’s been unbelievable, especially Lovejoy, has been unbelievable for our team lately and has really given guys a boost and a lot of confidence,” Demler said. “With all of them in the locker room last night, seeing how much those guys care about the program, so far removed from it, gives a lot of emotional buy-in and causes a lot of guys to notice how much the program means.”
Going into the rest of the season, the Big Green is looking to work its way up the standings to possibly compete in what would be the first NCAA tournament appearance of Gaudet’s coaching tenure at Dartmouth. Next weekend, the team plays Cornell, which will absolutely be looking to avenge its only loss at the hands of the Big Green, and a Colgate University team that the Big Green fell to at home in December.
Demler noted the difficulty of playing in a tough road environment against Cornell.
“We haven’t had a ton of success in the time that I’ve been here, but we can’t really be focusing on what they’re doing, we just have to focus on what we’re doing and have a really good week of preparation,” Demler said. “The big thing for us is when we’re playing well, we’ve got our feet going, and the other teams just can’t skate with us.”
A key for the Big Green will be the continued solid play of Clark behind the net.
“We just have to keep rolling,” Clark said. “We’ve found a good groove, a couple win streaks, we got good opponents. They’re going to want revenge so we got a stay focused and have a good week of practice.”