Dartmouth's Identity Crisis
By Joe Gladziszewski
Hockey League Notebook
senior Garret Overlock says the Big Green is just
starting to find its identity. No coincidence, then,
that the team is playing its best hockey.
Some might say it was the relative simplicity
of the bus ride from Ithaca to Hamilton that eased Dartmouth
coach Bob Gaudet's mind on Saturday. After all, the team
was at the rink with plenty of time to prepare for the game
– a stark contrast to 2005 when a snowstorm forced
the Dartmouth bus to the side of the road on two instances
and the players had to evacuate the bus due to engine fumes
wafting into the cabin.
Dartmouth experienced a routine arrival at
Starr Rink this time around, but that's not what had Gaudet
in a positive state of mind one night after losing 3-1 at
Cornell. He knew his team would turn in a solid effort.
"It's a really solid group of guys that's
fun to be around. We don't win 'em all, you know, but I
knew we'd come back and play well tonight," Gaudet
"I think there's another gear in this
team. We have a really resilient group of guys. They face
adversity and know how to come back and get focused and
play a simple game."
The problem with showing that you can respond
to adversity is that you have to face adversity first. The
Big Green struggled at the start of the season dropping
its first four ECACHL. A few clunkers through the middle
part of the schedule came against non-league opponents,
but Dartmouth has been steadily climbing up the ECACHL standings
since December and is playing some of its best hockey at
this time of the year.
Senior assistant captain Garret Overlock said
this team is different from past Dartmouth teams because
of better depth and experience.
"Every team has a different identity
and we're starting to find ours," Overlock said. "The
great thing about this team is that all four lines can play
with any team in the league, with any of the line. We have
a solid, experienced defensive corps and in net Mike [Devine]
has really emerged into a great player for us. Hopefully
we'll finish the story later on this year but going into
the stretch run we feel really good about ourselves."
They have good reason to feel good, because
they showed that they can excel in the types of areas that
are important to get wins in playoff-type games. Dartmouth
outperformed Colgate at both critical areas of the ice,
in front of each net. The Big Green forwards generated chances
and used their size and skill to work along the end boards
and force pucks around the crease for scoring chances. Devine
made saves on perimeter shots and Colgate had few rebound
opportunities because of solid defense in front of the net.
That has been a point of emphasis and an area of improvement
"Definitely to start the season we were
a little sloppy in our own end and weren't taking care of
business defensively. We knew we had to have our best effort,
play our best, start in our own end and we knew the offense
would come," Overlock said.
Now, with both ends of the ice in capable
hands Dartmouth's challenge is to take the next step and
win an ECAC Hockey League championship. The Big Green have
a shot at the regular-season crown this weekend and are
looking to the challenge of the playoffs and winning in
"Our goal is to win it and that's what
we're after," Gaudet said. "We just want to continue
to get better and we're so much better than we were just
three weeks ago. When you compare our team to the start
of the season it's night and day."
Seeing that improvement from month-to-month
and week to week is what has Dartmouth rolling into the
end of the season, and easing the mind of a head coach.
SEEN AND HEARD
IN THE ECACHL
Home-ice pride: The Clarkson
Golden Knights will be playing a home playoff series for
the first time in George Roll's tenure as head coach. And
for the first time in those three years they won't be starting
the playoff quest against Union in Schenectady. (But they
may end up at Cornell in the second round.)
Although Clarkson and Union won't be sharing
the same sheet of playoff ice, they do share a common trait,
as both have played their way into the top eight in the
standings on the strength of home dominance. Clarkson can
prepare for the playoff series with a couple of difficult
tests this weekend at Dartmouth and Harvard, but will welcome
the chance to play some more games at Cheel once March begins.
"It's huge for us. We're 12-2 at home
this year. We've played well on the road. We played well
at Princeton, Miami, and Cornell and didn't win. But we
definitely prefer to be home," Roll said.
It takes two: Colgate went
into last weekend with a four-game winless streak and ended
the streak with a thorough and complete Colgate-like effort
against Harvard on Friday. The Raiders capitalized on opportunities
with two power-play goals. They forced long breakout passes
and then stepped up to intercept the puck or force the Crimson
players to chip the puck deep. Mark Dekanich was solid with
29 saves on 30 shots and it all ended in a 4-1 win.
Don Vaughan's reaction afterward: "We
played one of our better games in a long time tonight. We
have a lot of respect for their transition game and their
speed and we worked to take away the long passes and stay
on the defensive side of the puck."
After Saturday's game against Dartmouth where
Colgate was out-Colgated by the visitors who got that strong
goaltending and hard-working goals Vaughan held an extended
post-game coaching session in the Raider dressing room.
His concern was his team's playoff preparedness and ability
to perform consistently in back-to-back games.
"I told them we have to find a way to
play two games on a weekend. If we're going to win in Albany,
and that's what we want to do, and if we want to win a playoff
series we have to win two games," Vaughan said.
Great Weekend Getaway
Lawrence at Harvard (Fri.) It's the most meaningful game of the weekend
in the playoff race as the Crimson trail the Saints
by just two points for fourth place and a bye in the
first round of the playoffs.
While You're There: The Sunset Grill
and Tap is located less than three miles from the
Bright Hockey Center. In other words, it's about a
20-minute drive in Boston. The Sunset features an
extensive menu of beers on tap that satisfies any
goaltender Mike Devine has a lot to be proud of but
judging from the back of his mask he's particularly
proud of his hometown sports teams. When complemented
on the Sabres logo on the back plate he proudly noted
that it was the old blue-and-yellow circle
Sabres logo that stood beside the charging Buffalo
It may be a matter of perception, but
fewer penalties were called in games I attended at
Colgate last weekend than in most college and professional
games I've seen this year. Seemingly, every
change in possession was followed by a hack, whack
or hook with a stick by the player that turned
it over. Those calls were made earlier this season.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• The ECACHL prides itself on its close
playoff races, which makes this year a bit unusual due to
the stratification of the standings with a full set of 12
games left to be played. The bottom four teams have been
determined – Quinnipiac, Princeton, Yale, and Brown
– and can prepare for a road trip next weekend. Corrnell
has clinched a bye and Colgate and Dartmouth are also well-positioned
• St. Lawrence sophomore goaltender
Justin Pesony made 45 saves on 46 shots and won two games
last weekend. He was the ECACHL Goaltender of the Week for
the third time this season.
• A subtle change in Colgate's power
play saw Kyle Wilson swap units with Jon Smyth and the change
yielded results as the quintet of Wilson, Tyler Burton,
Nick St. Pierre, Jesse Winchester, and Mike Campaner scored
two PPGs in five opportunities on Friday.
• Dartmouth defenseman Grant Lewis should
return to the lineup this weekend after missing four games
in a row with a shoulder injury. Clarkson's trip to Harvard
and Dartmouth might be a little more difficult if they don't
have the services of freshman forward Shea Guthrie, who
is fighting an injury.
• It's time-and-a-half rate for Princeton
as the Tigers last four games have gone to overtime. Three
of those four games have ended in Princeton losses.
• A real barn-burner at Lynah Rink on
Saturday saw the Harvard Crimson win at Cornell for the
first time since Feb. 20, 1999. It's too bad that CSTV didn't
re-air the game at all during the week. It would've been
nice for those that were attending other games at the time.
• RPI couldn't have picked a better
time for an unbeaten streak. By gaining seven points in
their last five games (2-0-3) the Engineers played their
way into a top-eight spot and a home-ice playoff series.
• Clarkson senior forward Jeff Genovy
regained his scoring touch with four goals over the weekend
and was named ECACHL Player of the Week. Genovy's point
and goal production cooled significantly since the start
of the season.
• A disappointing farewell – but
one filled with wishes for continued success – to
Cornell SID Eric Lawrence. He has handled accommodating
us media types for the last two years. He's leaving the
Big Red program for another opportunity and those of us
in the business will be very fortunate to be treated as
well as Eric treated us by his successor.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report.