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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Men’s hockey drops final two regular season games to RPI and Union

The Big Green will take on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute again in the first round of the ECAC Tournament next weekend.

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The men's hockey team concluded its regular season schedule last weekend.

The men’s hockey team capped off their regular season this weekend with a road trip to New York to face off against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College. Dartmouth was unable to skate away with a victory in either matchup, losing a third period lead to RPI and falling in overtime to Union.

On Friday, Dartmouth went into Houston Field House looking to exact revenge for the 2-0 defeat they suffered at home against RPI at the beginning of February. The Big Green struck within the first five minutes when defenseman Jack Cameron ’23 fired a shot from the blue line to beat the sliding Engineers goalie. RPI found the equalizer a couple minutes later, but then Steven Townley ’25 re-extended the lead thanks to a textbook give and go with Braiden Dorfman ’25. After the flurry of scoring through the first ten minutes, the game settled down as RPI started to hit and control the pace of play.

“RPI is a little bigger and slower, so they like to shift things down a bit,” Dorfman said.

Early in the second period though, RPI’s play style came back to bite them as the Engineers picked up an interference penalty trying to slow down a Dartmouth breakout. A minute and a half into the man advantage, a wrist shot up at the point from Ian Pierce ’25 ricocheted off the outstretched stick of Mark Gallant ’23 for his team leading 10th goal of the year. 

Now up 3-1, the Big Green proved the old adage that “a two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey” — only 45 seconds later, RPI batted a rebound out of mid-air, off the back of Tanner Palocsik ’23, and into the net cutting the deficit to 3-2. In the third period, Dartmouth was haunted by penalties, as an interference led to the game-tying goal with 13 minutes remaining and a hook led to the go-ahead goal four minutes later. With three minutes left in the game, head coach Reid Cashman opted to pull Clay Stevenson ’24 for the extra man, but the gamble did not pay off as RPI scored two empty net goals, giving the final score of 6-3 a much more lopsided appearance.

The next day, Dartmouth traveled to Schenectady, New York to face Union as they looked to find their second victory in the last 12 matchups with the Dutchmen. Both teams came out shooting in the first period as Union stretched the ice, playing a much faster style than RPI. Stevenson hung tough in net for the Big Green, making 15 saves and getting a little help from the post on a ice-gliding shot that the Dutchmen thought made it home. 

The scoring did not open up until the second, as Dartmouth got sucked into the offensive zone on their power play, allowing a Rensselaer forward to sneak behind the defense and get a clean breakaway. The shorthanded goal put Union up 1-0. In the rest of the second, the Big Green struggled breaking the puck out of their zone as they only put two shots on goal, surviving their way to the locker room. 

The third period was a more equally contested period, but RPI found the back of the net on a calculated three-on-two rush, bringing the score up to 2-0 with only 3:14 left to play. The goal seemed like the final nail in the coffin — with two and a half minutes left, Cashman pulled Stevenson in a desperation move. A regulation loss meant that Dartmouth would finish last in the ECAC and be the lowest seed heading into playoffs. 

Coming on the ice as the sixth man, Braiden Dorfman ’25 slid into position, caught a pass and fired a laser top-shelf over the Union goalie’s glove. After Dartmouth regained possession, Stevenson was pulled again — with only 57 seconds left, the puck came to Steven Townley ’25 in the slot and he beat the Union goalie on the low glove side to give the Big Green the improbable equalizer. 

“I honestly can't say I’ve ever seen back to back six-on-five goals like that, it was really exciting,” Townley said. “It showed a lot about our group that we didn’t give up.” 

Having two freshmen score the game-tying goals showed potential strength in the program’s future. 

“We have nine freshmen guys on the team, so we jumped right in and tried to do our best,” Townley said.

Time expired in regulation and the game went to overtime, which meant Dartmouth picked up a point in the standings, enough for them to leapfrog Yale in seeding for the ECAC Tournament. In overtime, Cashman played for the win, pulling Stevenson with 2:18 left in the extra period — one minute later, however, Union capitalized on the empty net opportunity to earn the walk-off 3-2 win. Cashman stood by his decision to pull the goalie in overtime after the game.

“We got the d-zone draw and had the guys out there that we wanted, so we went for it,” Cashman said. “I wanted to be aggressive.” 

Next weekend, Dartmouth will get another shot at RPI in the first round of the ECAC Tournament, as the Big Green and Engineers will battle in a best-of-three series. 

“We’re in playoff mode, which means we have to end somebody’s season, and that’s tough to do,” Cashman said. “You can’t win the second game unless you win the first, so that Friday night game will be really important to get off on the right foot in the series.”

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