Men’s hockey defeats Colgate after falling to Cornell
By Josh Koenig, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, February 18, 2013
Despite missing several key upperclassmen, the No. 17 Big Green men’s hockey team battled back from a 4-2 loss to Cornell University at home on Friday with an exciting 5-4 win against Colgate University on Saturday evening at Thompson Arena, snapping a four-game skid.
“With all of the guys that are out of the lineup, to have all the guys pull together was incredible,” head coach Bob Gaudet said. “We were relying so heavily on young players that it was huge for them, and the team, to get rewarded.”
Against Colgate (13-13-4, 5-10-3 ECAC) the Big Green started tentatively before jumping out to an early lead behind a goal from Jesse Beamish ’15. However, the Big Green (12-9-4, 8-7-3 ECAC) was unable to hold the lead for long, as Colgate answered only minutes later, equalizing the game with a goal.
Another Dartmouth goal, scored on a beautiful long-range shot by Eric Neiley ’15, gave the Big Green the lead heading into the second period, but Colgate once again caught up shortly after the start of the period, knotting the game at 2-2.
The lead continued to teeter back and forth in this fashion, with Colgate establishing a 4-3 lead with 10 minutes left to play in the third period, setting the stage for a dramatic Big Green comeback.
Only three minutes later, a tough fight in front of the net allowed Dartmouth to draw the game level once again, with Beamish’s tenacity and grit allowing him to emerge from the scrabble with a goal, his second of the game.
Shortly after the equalizer, another scrum in front of the goal saw Neiley draw an interference penalty on Colgate freshman defender Spiro Goulakos, putting the Big Green on the power play.
“I ended up on top of the goalie, and I guess the defenseman didn’t like it and gave me an extra-shove,” Neiley said.
With the home crowd at Thompson Arena roaring, Neiley played the hero on the power play he had earned, knocking home the winning goal from close range after a pin point pass from Dustin Walsh ’13.
“The pass across [to Dustin] was perfect, and when he stopped it with his skate, he looked up and made eye contact,” Neiley said. “I took a step away from my defender, and almost had an empty net to finish.”
In the contest’s waning moments, the Big Green was forced to defend a final Colgate power play, where the Dartmouth defenders displayed a practically tangible desire for the win in denying Colgate attackers.
“At that point, you’re doing everything you can, diving to block pucks, giving guys a little extra shove,” captain and defenseman Mike Keenan ’13 said. “It’s 100 percent.”
Against Cornell (9-13-3, 5-10-3 ECAC) on Friday, the intensity and desire displayed against Colgate seemed to be missing at times, especially during a tough second period when the Big Green conceded three decisive goals to Cornell.
“We came out flat and didn’t play well,” Keenan said. “I think they scored on the first two shifts, or early on, but halfway through we turned it around.”
Despite finding themselves behind 3-0, the Big Green stayed in the game, with Tyler Sikura ’15 pulling one back toward the end of the second, and Nick Bligh ’16 artfully batting a redirected shot into the net minutes into the game’s final period.
Seeking an equalizer, the Big Green unfortunately came up short, conceding an empty net goal in the game’s final moments.
The loss to the Big Red was one of the few the Big Green has suffered at home in Thompson Arena this year, where after this weekend it holds a still impressive 10-3 home record. The loss was the fourth the Big Green has suffered in a televised game.
This weekend’s results further highlighted the parity in the ECAC, where, despite Quinnipiac University’s dominance at the top of the table, spots two through eight in the standings are separated by only four points, with the Big Green sitting in a tie with Yale University for fourth place. Yale also stands between the Big Green and an Ivy League title, holding first place by two points to the Big Green’s second.
Importantly, ECAC standings are used to determine both first-round byes and home-ice advantage during the ECAC tournament, meaning that the Big Green’s final four games take on vital importance.
“These next four are basically playoff games,” Keenan said.
Despite the heightened importance of the season’s last four games, starting with a road-stand against Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University this coming weekend, the Big Green is no stranger to a playoff mentality.
“We’ve had pretty much that mentality for a while,” Gaudet said. “The importance of every game is huge, but obviously it’s heightened now.”