Men’s hockey falls in ECAC standings with losses to RPI, Union
The Big Green suffered difficult losses on the road to conference opponents RPI and Union.
It was a tough weekend on the road for the Big Green. Currently sitting at seventh in the Eastern College Athletic Conference standings after the weekend, Dartmouth fell 7-1 to sixth-place Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Friday evening and ninth-place Union College 4-3 on Saturday.
On Friday, after Quin Foreman ’21 tied the game 1-1 in the final seconds of the first period — assisted by Matt Baker ’21 and Drew O’Connor ’22 — the Big Green took a big hit after RPI scored three goals in only 91 seconds in the midst of the second period. Unfortunately, the Big Green was unable to mount a comeback, and after RPI scored another three goals in the final period, the game ended 7-1.
“We’re just trying to get past it and move on,” Foreman said. “Luckily we play every weekend, and we just want to put it behind us but learn from it and hopefully iron out some of the details that went wrong this weekend. We had a lot of stretches where we just got dominated throughout the game, and we just had spurts where we were kind of out of it — so we just need to be a lot more consistent.”
Head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 admitted it was a challenging game Friday night for the Big Green.
“I think it’s a good learning experience for our guys,” Gaudet said. “We battled, but RPI got on top of us on Friday, and we just weren’t able to claw back.”
On Saturday evening, the team traveled to Union to take on the Dutchmen in their home arena. The home team started off the scoring 15 minutes into the first period, and the Big Green was unable to fight back until early in the second period, when Will Graber ’20 scored an unassisted goal — his seventh goal of the season — in the seventh minute to even the game 1-1. The tie did not last long, however, and the Dutchmen scored thrice more in the second period.
“Top to bottom we didn’t play our best hockey: It’s as simple as that,” Graber said. “We know as a group we have a lot more to bring, and I think for whatever reason we didn’t quite have it this weekend. So hopefully moving forward we can get back to where we were a couple weeks ago and get back in gear here before the final stretch of the year.”
The puck dropped on the third period with the score sitting at 4-1 in favor of Union, but the duo of Graber and Foreman were not quite finished yet. Foreman scored twice more in the third period off assists from Graber — Foreman’s ninth and 10th goals of the season — and gave the team hope for a late comeback. In the end, the Big Green came up just short of gaining league points with the last few shots just shy of the back of the net.
“Last year, we had a similar thing happen where we were down two goals and scored twice at the end of the game to get it to overtime, so that was in my head, thinking that’s definitely a possibility, and I know a few other guys kind of said the same thing,” Foreman said. “Honestly, it was nice to score those goals, but it definitely would have been a lot better if we had gotten one more at the end to get it to overtime hopefully.”
Despite the loss Saturday, Gaudet maintained confidence and enthusiasm about the team ahead of its matchup against Harvard University next weekend.
“On Saturday, I thought we played really hard and so did the other guys; we battled to the buzzer but couldn’t tie it up, but we’re learning,” Gaudet said. “As I told the guys after the game last night, we’re looking directly at Harvard, that’s our preparation — that’s our focus — and for a coach as we look at Harvard, we have another really, really strong opponent, and it’s going to be one of those games where we have to be right on top of it from start to finish.”
The Big Green will take on Harvard at home in Thompson Arena this Friday. Puck drop is at 8 p.m.
“They’re a really strong team in all facets of the game but offensively they’re very good,” Gaudet said. “Playing team defense is going to be really important for us to shut them down, and playing good defense gives us the puck more and leads to good offense. That’s going to be the focus as we prepare this week.”
Graber also emphasized the importance of the Winter Carnival matchup against the Crimson, referring to it as “a huge statement game.”
“It’s always fun playing Harvard, always fun playing at home — and on top of that we have Winter Carnival, so there’s no excuse not to show up,” Graber said. “We just need to keep things simple and get back to how we were playing a couple weeks ago.”
Harvard is currently tied for third in the ECAC standings and No. 16 overall. Dartmouth fell to Harvard once in the regular season and once in the preseason, but the team is eager for revenge against its Ivy League opponent.
The Big Green has seven games remaining to climb the ECAC standings, including five at home, beginning with this weekend at home against Harvard. Gaudet discussed the challenge of playing in the ECAC, with a difficult road ahead.
“It’s the toughest Division I hockey league in the country, and night in and night out, we’re playing really strong, physical, hard teams to play against,” Gaudet said. “And when you’re on the road it almost exacerbates that, and every error is magnified. There is very little margin for error in Division I college hockey.”