Strong conference play boosts men's hockey into national rankings
The Big Green celebrates after defeating No. 7 Clarkson University last weekend.
Following two home wins last weekend, the men’s hockey team ranked No. 20 in the nation in this week’s NCAA poll on USCHO.com. The ranking represents the first time Dartmouth has snuck onto the charts in nearly four years, having last polled at No. 20 on Feb. 1, 2016.
This past Friday, the Big Green defeated No. 7 Clarkson University 3-2 with a late goal, giving the Golden Knights their third conference loss of the season. The next night, Dartmouth beat St. Lawrence University 3-1 in another competitive matchup at home. The two wins put Dartmouth in a four-way tie for third in the Eastern College Athletic Conference and built on last week’s momentum after the Big Green received votes in the USCHO.com poll but missed the top 20.
The team’s ranking is largely a factor of its success at Thompson Arena. The Big Green is 7-1-2 at home so far this season and 6-1-1 overall since Dec. 28. This recent streak of victories — especially those in the highly competitive ECAC — played a large role in Dartmouth reaching the national rankings.
Head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 said that the team’s conference competition is some of the toughest in the country. The five ECAC teams that cracked the top 20 matches the Hockey East Association for the most ranked teams this week.
Gaudet described the team’s national ranking as a “step along the way.” Although he said he was excited about the Dartmouth’s national standing, he said the team’s goal is to be one of the top 16 teams in the nation and to receive a spot in the NCAA postseason tournament. To qualify for the tournament, the Big Green needs to either win the ECAC or receive an at-large bid from the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee.
Dartmouth has a shot at achieving Gaudet’s goal, but this weekend may prove pivotal for the team’s postseason hopes. Tonight, the Big Green travels to Ithaca, NY for a rematch with No. 1 Cornell University. At home in December, Dartmouth handed the Big Red its first — and to this date, only — loss this season.
Forward Drew O’Connor ’22 said the team is excited for its upcoming match against Cornell.
“It’s always a great place to play and should be a very fun atmosphere there.” O’Connor said.
The Big Green also plays Colgate University in Hamilton, NY on Saturday. Though Dartmouth has been much more successful at home this season, playing on the road this weekend is not a concern for O’Connor.
“We are playing very well as a team right now,” he said. “We’re starting to play complete games, and that’s shown with our record recently. This weekend will be a challenge, but we feel we are well prepared and definitely excited and confident.”
Whether the Big Green maintains its top-20 spot after challenging road matchups is up in the air. But for now, the team will ride its momentum and try to climb into the top 16 this weekend.