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Over the course of summer 2018 and winter 2019, I have written 14 installations of this column. At its inception, I was excited to bring to light the musings of someone who likes sports but doesn’t always understand them. For some context: when I started writing for The Dartmouth during my freshman year, I was just getting interested in sports and I thought that writing for the sports section would be a great way to connect with my new interest. I think that developed nicely into this column. It was a great, relaxed way to write during sophomore summer, and I had a lot of fun reflecting on my personal experiences. However, as of late I have found myself in the position of a Sporadic Fan, rather than an Accidental Fan. Thus, this column has become increasingly difficult to write. Indeed, finding topics to write about has become a weekly struggle. Because of that, my work will be appearing in a different capacity in The Dartmouth next term. The plan, if everything works out is to create a different column at the art section starting this spring.
Oh, hi March.
As finals encroach and The Dartmouth’s winter term production comes to its close, I’d like to conclude this term’s run of “Pucks in Deep” where I began — with John Tavares’ free agent signing in Toronto. In my first column of the term, I wrote about Tavares’ homecoming to Toronto and its terrifying implications for Leafs Nation. As I sign off for the term, I’d like to consider Tavares’ signing from the opposite perspective — that of the New York Islanders, the team that drafted Tavares first overall in 2009 only to watch him leave in free agency last summer having won just one playoff series in his tenure with the Isles.
A three-point weekend propelled the men’s hockey team into fifth place of the Eastern College Athletic Conference standings as the regular season came to a close. The Big Green lost 4-3 in overtime to Union College and earned a 5-2 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The team will open the ECAC tournament next weekend at Thompson Arena in a best-of-three series against St. Lawrence University.
The theme of the men’s basketball season has been losing close game after close game in Ivy League play, and to some degree, the trend continued this weekend. Princeton University defeated Dartmouth 77-76 in overtime on Friday night, while the University of Pennsylvania knocked off the Big Green more convincingly with a 65-51 win the following night.
As reigning Ivy League co-champions, softball looks to build on their success and raise the standard of excellence that has been set through strong play the past few seasons even higher. Last year, softball finished first in the Ivy League through regular season play but lost to Harvard University 4-6 and 1-4 in both games at the Ivy League Championship Series. With the loss, the Big Green became co-champions and Harvard moved on to compete in NCAA Regionals. Softball has also seen a coaching change, with the old head coach Shannon Doepking leaving for Syracuse University after a successful four-year stint in which she won Ivy League Coach of the Year twice and the team went 118-98. Hired in October, new head coach Jennifer Williams spent the past eight years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as head coach, compiling the most wins in program history.
The men’s hockey team takes on Yale University and Brown University this Friday and Saturday in its final two home games of the regular season. Saturday’s game against Brown is the team’s senior night, where the team’s six seniors will be honored for their contributions to the program. Head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 sat down with the Dartmouth and looked back on the seniors’ trip to the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament semifinals in Lake Placid, N.Y. in 2016 and their victory over defending champion Denver University last season. Gaudet also reflected on the character of the senior class and the team’s goal to return to Lake Placid this postseason.
Welcome back to The Redshirt Senior, boys and girls. In this week’s news, Nike stock drops $1.1 billion, the University of North Carolina traveled down Tobacco Road and beat its most hated rival on the road, and the NBA is considering lowering the draft age to 18. All of this, believe it or not, originates from one incident.
Have you ever experienced that feeling when your favorite character gets phased out of a television show or maybe just gets mercilessly killed off? “Game of Thrones” fans, I’m talking to you (RIP Ned Stark — The North Remembers). It can be devastating to lose a favorite character, especially if they were your connection to the show.
If you haven’t been following the NHL season too closely, you may not have heard about the audacity of the Carolina Hurricanes, who have been so bold as to enjoy winning hockey games on home ice. After each win at PNC Arena in Raleigh, the Canes, led by their captain Justin Williams, perform some choreographed group celebration at center ice to the delight of their fans, whether jumping into the glass, sliding on their rear ends miming kayaking or — one of their most recent acts — re-staging a baseball home run trot, complete with a monstrous bat flip from Warren Foegele to make sure baseball purists were upset along with the angry old hockey men.
The Dartmouth women’s basketball coaching staff calls it the ABCD approach. Academics, basketball, cost, and Dartmouth: the mutual selling points between a recruit and the coaching staff that have to be in check to bring a student-athlete to Dartmouth.
With only one senior leaving after this season, the Dartmouth men’s basketball team has a promising outlook for the 2019-20 campaign. For starters, the team will return its entire starting lineup and all but one of its key contributors. Additionally, Trevon Ary-Turner ’21, a transfer from Weber State University, will be eligible to play next season and will be a huge addition to an experienced roster.
With the Dartmouth baseball team tying a program record last season by reaching 11 consecutive seasons with more wins than losses in Ivy League play, head coach Bob Whalen, now in his 30th season at Dartmouth, is hungry for even more. When asked simply what his goal for the season was, his answer was succinct: win a championship.
In a week that honored the Big Green’s seniors, it was a first-year who earned Dartmouth its biggest win in years. After trailing No. 4 Clarkson University by two goals after the first period, the Big Green forced overtime and Chloe Puddifant ’22 wristed in a rebound with 9.4 seconds left in overtime to deal a stunning defeat to the defending national champion Golden Knights.
Tied in a scoreless game against No. 11 Clarkson University with under one minute to go in the third period, Drew O’Connor ’22 tipped in a centering pass from Clay Han ’20 to give the men’s hockey team a signature win. The game was a bit of an anomaly for the Big Green: the team committed six penalties on the night, tied for the most times the team has gone to the penalty box since November. This season, the Big Green is sixth among Division I teams with fewer than nine penalty minutes per game.
The college basketball season is about two-thirds of the way through, and we’re that much closer to the Madness. It’s a great Saturday for me as I write this column since Syracuse doesn’t play, so my heart rate will stay at a reasonable level. In the spirit of relaxation, I now have the extra two hours vacated by the Syracuse game to take a look around the league and explore who the best players in the country are. I’ll start with point guard and move down the numbers to fill in every position in what I consider to be the Evan Griffith Completely Accurate All-Division I First Team.
Neither dance nor football is easy. Both take extreme skill and stamina. But while football is inarguably a sport, I wonder if dance can be classified as such. The 2007 movie “The Game Plan” intimates that dance is even more difficult than football. The lead female character, a ballet teacher, is getting ready to teach Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character, an NFL football player, how to dance. She proceeds to take him through a crazy workout that has him gasping for air and in desperate need of water. As he tries to shrug off his exhaustion, she says, “If ballet were easy, they’d call it football.”