Sore Spots Mount for Big Green
Cornell Doubles Up Hobbled Dartmouth
Dartmouth goaltender Cab Morris sprawls on the ice in front of Cornell’s Vince Mihalek last night while Big Green teammates Taylor Boldt (5) and Jesse Beamish, right, lend assistance. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth forward Eric Neiley can't gain control of the puck last night as he skates in on Cornell goaltender Andy Iles. Referee Chip McDonald and Cornell's Nick D'Agostino watch the play from opposite sides of the Thompson Arena ice. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — The losses — and players lost to injury — continue to pile up for the Dartmouth College men’s hockey team. The Big Green suffered one of each last night, falling to ECAC and Ivy League rival Cornell, 4-2, at Thompson Arena and losing forward Eric Robinson with an apparent shoulder injury in the process.
Robinson, the team’s third-leading scorer, departed in obvious agony after he mistimed a bodycheck and slammed into the offensive-zone sideboards in the fifth minute. Five minutes into the middle stanza, his team was down 2-0, en route to a 3-0 deficit late in the period that a spirited comeback couldn’t transform into victory.
Cornell, which entered with an uncharacteristic seven-game losing streak, is now 7-0-2 against Dartmouth in the teams’ last nine meetings. The schools’ last 11 clashes have all been decided by two goals or less, seven of them being one-goal contests.
“We have all these young players and tonight they became men,’’ said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, whose roster is the ECAC’s youngest and who dressed six sophomores and eight freshmen last night. “They played their butts off and they played ferociously.
“The same game could have been 4-2 for us. We had plenty of chances to score but I liked the way our guys battled and fought. I just would have loved to have won the game.”
The contest’s latter stages featured a pair of odd plays involving each team’s goaltender. With three minutes remaining and Cornell up 3-2, Dartmouth forward Brad Schierhorn and an opponent raced neck-and-neck down the Big Red slot at the same time as visiting netminder Andy Iles charged toward a loose puck between the circles.
The resulting three-way collision took place roughly five feet outside the crease, but Schierhorn was penalized for goaltender interference.
“It’s a tough call, because he’s out of the paint,’’ said Gaudet, a former backstop himself. “A goalie can’t be checked like a defenseman or a forward, but in real time it looked like it was just guys going for the puck. Goalies are like kickers in football. When they get hit, they’re not going to just stand there.”
A little more than two minutes later, players on Dartmouth’s bench gestured for their goaltender, Cab Morris, to come off the ice for an extra skater. Morris didn’t get the message at first, then sprinted for center ice. However, play swung back toward the Big Green zone, and when the sophomore tried to reverse course toward his net, he fell down. Cornell scored into the unguarded cage seconds later.
“There was just a lot of confusion,’’ Morris said, declining to discuss the play further. “It’s always tough to start a game like we did tonight, but I give the guys credit for battling hard to get back in it. We need to play a full 60 minutes and that’s what it comes down to right now.”
Dartmouth’s rally began three minutes before the second intermission, when Tyler Sikura won a faceoff to Iles’ left, took a return pass from Tim O’Brien and ripped a shot from the right circle and under the crossbar.
The Big Green pulled within 3-2 just 90 seconds into the final stanza. Geoff Ferguson’s pop-fly pass into center ice resulted in a 2-on-1 rush for Schierhorn and Nick Bligh. The former cranked a shot off Iles that bounced up and across the crease. The latter showed remarkable hand-eye coordination in knocking the puck out of midair and into the twine.
Last night’s result, combined with the jam-packed ECAC standings, left Dartmouth two points out of second place and two points out of ninth. Tenth-place Colgate arrives at Thompson Arena tonight to face the injury-depleted Big Green. In addition to Robinson, the hosts will be missing forwards Matt Lindblad and Brandon McNally, who are also out with shoulder injuries.
Lindblad, hurt at Rensselaer on Feb. 2, is expected back later this season. McNally, injured at Brown in mid-January, is out for the remainder of the campaign.
Dartmouth is 3-6-2 in its last 11 games since being ranked eighth in the country in late January. Gaudet doesn’t deny that his team’s play has dropped off since its peak, but he points to the injuries and his team’s youth as significant factors.
“That being said, we can’t use it as an excuse,’’ said the coach, whose squad is 11-9-4 overall and 7-7-3 in league play. “We are going to find a way. I’m not going to allow anything else.”
Notes: Cornell is 9-13-2 overall and 5-10-2 in the ECAC. … Big Green wing Dustin Walsh, picked as the preseason ECAC Player of the Year, has 14 points in 20 games but hasn’t had one in his last three contests, … Iles started his 60th consecutive game.
Cornell has surrendered 47 goals in 17 league games after allowed just 46 in 22 contests last season. The Big Red has allowed 50 or more goals in ECAC play only twice since 2000… Cornell played without Cole Bardreau, who helped the U.S. capture the World Junior Championships earlier this season. The sophomore is out for the rest of the current campaign with a fractured neck suffered when he was hit from behind last month.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.