Men’s hockey approaches final weekend at sixth place in ECAC
Drew O’Connor has 17 goals this season, tying him for the league lead in the ECAC.
This past weekend, the Dartmouth men’s hockey team took to the road for its final set of away games in the regular season. Defeating St. Lawrence University 5-2 on Friday but falling 4-0 to No. 5 Clarkson University on Saturday, the Big Green came out of the weekend with two points, and is now ranked sixth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference.
Friday night was a high-scoring day for the Big Green on all fronts. Five players had multi-point games, and forward Drew O’Connor ’22 scored twice to tie Harvard’s Jack Drury for the lead in goal-scoring in the ECAC.
The scoring began just three minutes into the first period, with Brendan Demler ’21 scoring the first goal of the game and his first goal of the season to give the Big Green an early lead. St. Lawrence found the back of the net just five minutes later, and the score stuck at 1-1 for the remainder of the first period.
David Jankowski took the lead for the Saints on a shot netted during a power play 13 minutes into the second frame, but O’Connor and Tanner Palocsik ’23 quickly shut down any hope of the Saints maintaining that lead. Three minutes later, O’Connor scored his sixteenth goal of the season and Palocsik followed up just 60 seconds later to take back the lead for the Big Green.
“It was a big goal at the time,” Palocsik said. “I was just trying to get the puck on net. We had guys going to the net and at that point in the game where it’s tied you’re just trying to look for any bounce you can get, and fortunately I got to get one in there.”
The Saints would not find the back of the net for the remainder of the game, and both Jeff Losurdo ’22 and Will Graber ’20 would score in the third frame for the Big Green. Graber’s goal came on an empty net with just nineteen seconds left in the contest, and when the clock expired, the score read 5-2 in Dartmouth’s favor.
“The St. Lawrence team was really hard to play against,” said head coach Bob Gaudet ’81. “They’re a big, strong, tough team, and they came out the next night and beat Harvard 6-3. They’re playing good hockey so it was a good win for us.”
On Saturday, the team traveled down the road to Potsdam to take on Clarkson for the second time this season. Currently ranked in second place in the ECAC, Clarkson lost 3-2 in Hanover earlier this season and came out strong and looking for vengeance.
“The next night we played really, really well coming out of the gate,” Gaudet said. “We very easily could have been up two or three nothing in the first period and it just didn’t go in for us.”
The first period ended scoreless for both sides; the first tally of the game came for the home team four minutes into the middle frame. The next three goals for the Golden Knights came in the third period, the final goal on an empty net.
“They’re a legitimate national championship caliber team and we beat them here, but this game obviously wasn’t a 4-0 game — we pulled the goalie to try and get something going late in the game,” Gaudet said. “They’re a good team, and I give them credit; they played hard, we played hard, and I would just like to see a couple of good bounces go our way.”
The Big Green had multiple opportunities but was unable to capitalize against the Golden Knights. One big chance came for Palocsik in the middle frame, but the puck just missed, hitting the upper crossbar. During a third-period offensive surge, Quin Foreman ’21 called for a video-review on a thought-to-be goal, but there was not enough video evidence to overturn the initial no-goal call by the referees.
“That was close — that was a bit of a dagger, because it would’ve made it 2-1 at the time, and I think shortly after they went up three nothing so if we could’ve gotten that goal it might have been a different outcome down the end of the line,” Palocsik said.
Looking ahead to next weekend, the Big Green play its final games of the regular season in Thompson Arena against Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Gaudet said he expects that, late in the season, those games are going to be tough matchups for the Big Green.
“Both teams are going to be tough physical games, so that’s what we’re going to work on in practice,” he said. “The grind of the game this time of year, it’s such a physical battle so we just got to be prepared, have short, crisp practices, work on our good execution and our good habits and get ready to battle. I’m glad we’re at home — we get to play in front of our own fans, and this will be good prep for the playoffs, important games for us.”
The game on Saturday night against RPI will honor the team’s nine seniors in their last game on home ice during their time at Dartmouth. Both games will be a physical struggle, but the team is ready to battle both mentally and physically for what are critical four points looking ahead at the post-season.
“I think we need to come with the same kind of attitude and mentality that we did this past weekend,” said Palocsik. “It’s coming down to playoff time now, and the hardest working teams are gonna get the wins, so we just need to come with the attitude that we have to outwork these teams.”