Men’s hockey stays undefeated with two home Ivy wins
By Blaze Joel, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, November 5, 2012
After notching its first Ivy Shootout Tournament win last weekend against Yale University and Brown University, the Dartmouth men’s hockey team faced off against the same two teams at home over the weekend. The Big Green (3-0-1, 2-0-0 ECAC) dominated the Bulldogs (2-1-1, 1-1-0 ECAC) in a 7-4 win on Friday before beating the Bears (1-3-0, 0-2-0 ECAC), 2-1, in a comeback effort on Saturday.
The win over Yale was the first by Dartmouth since 2008, when the Big Green offense had a similar eruption in a 7-2 win. The two teams played to a 2-2 tie last weekend in the Ivy Shootout before Dartmouth moved on with a shootout win.
“We were pretty confident since we played well last weekend,” captain Mike Keenan ’13 said. “It’s tough to beat a team back-to-back weekends, though, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
The game was high-octane from the beginning, with Matt Lindblad ’14 breaking through for his first goal of the season off of an assist from Eric Neiley ’15. The Bulldogs tied up the game just 30 seconds later with a score by Stu Wilson.
Eric Robinson ’14 put the Big Green back on top with a blistering wrist shot into the top right corner of the net. Lindblad notched his second of the game just under two minutes later, burying a rebound created by a Dustin Walsh ’13 shot.
Walsh’s point came in his return to the lineup for the first time since last January due to a hip injury.
“It was the first weekend back for me since my surgery,” Walsh said. “The coaches eased me in, and I felt pretty good — definitely not back in mid-season form — but hopefully I’ll get there soon.”
Yale brought the game back within one at the end of the opening period but could not climb any closer than that, thanks in large part to an offensive explosion by the Big Green to open the second period. Dartmouth scored on three consecutive shots to start the second, stretching the lead to 6-2.
Just under 10 minutes into the second stanza, Brandon McNally ’15 netted his first goal of the season, followed by a power-play goal from the stick of Robinson. Tyler Sikura ’15 joined the scoring spree under a minute later with a shorthanded breakaway goal that put the game virtually out of reach for the Bulldogs.
“They were putting a lot of pressure on us throughout the game,” defenseman Rick Pinkston ’15 said. “To break loose and score those goals right after each other was a big swing of momentum.”
Yale junior Antoine Laganiere scored twice against the Dartmouth men for the second time of the season.
The Big Green outscored the Bulldogs, 3-1, in the crucial second period despite being outshot 13-5. Strong goaltending from Charles Grant ’16 helped Dartmouth gain control of the contest, and the freshman made 35 saves in his second collegiate game.
The Bulldogs kept up the pressure in the third, outshooting the Big Green, 12-5, in the final frame, but Sikura’s goal off another Neiley assist with just under seven minutes remaining put the game out of reach.
“It definitely gets rid of that stigma that you have going into games as the underdogs,” Pinkston said. “We know that we can compete with these top caliber programs, and it was a realization for us that we don’t have to be underdogs.”
The Big Green was efficient on offense, scoring on seven of 23 shots, and continued to be lethal with the man advantage, as the team added two more power-play goals in the contest. Lindblad, Robinson and Sikura finished with two goals each, while Neiley contributed three assists.
“I think we’ll be a really good offensive team this year, and we’ll score a lot of goals,” Walsh said.
The Dartmouth offense cooled off on Saturday night against Brown but eked out a 2-1 win in Thompson Arena. With the win, the Big Green extended its streak to 11 games without a loss to the Bears.
Brown came out fired up and energetic to start the game and gained an early advantage with a shorthanded goal. The Big Green peppered Brown sophomore goalie Marco De Filippo with seven shots in the first, but could not break through. The goal was the only blemish on the resume of Dartmouth netminder Cab Morris ’14, who stopped 24 shots in the win.
“Being a defenseman playing in games, it’s really nice knowing you have a guy between the pipes who is really responsible with the puck and he can control his rebounds and put the puck where it needs to be,” Pinkston said.
Despite an 18-shot effort in the second period, the Big Green could not pull even until nearly 18 minutes had gone by. Keenan slid the puck to Sikura, who found Neiley in the slot. Neiley fired at the net, sending the puck flying between the legs of De Filippo.
In a tightly contested third period, it was Robinson and the Dartmouth defense that sealed a win for the Big Green. Robinson and McNally embarked on a two-on-one late in the period, and as the tandem reached the slot, McNally slid it to Robinson, who buried the puck top shelf for his fifth goal of the season. The Dartmouth defense held on in the end, with Morris coming up big once Brown pulled its goalie.
“Everyone’s really excited,” Walsh said. “This is the strongest team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The undefeated Big Green will look to continue its best start in almost a decade next weekend as the team welcomes Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College to Thompson Arena.