Big Green Lead Turns Into Disappointing Tie

  • Dartmouth wing Cammie Dumais, left, skates through the corner while seeking a path past a Rensselaer defender yesterday at Thompson Arena. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Dartmouth wing Cammie Dumais, left, skates through the corner while seeking a path past a Rensselaer defender yesterday at Thompson Arena. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth center Ailish Forfar prepares for a first-period faceoff against visiting Rensselaer yesterday at Thompson Arena. Teammate Catherine Berghuis is in the background. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Dartmouth center Ailish Forfar prepares for a first-period faceoff against visiting Rensselaer yesterday at Thompson Arena. Teammate Catherine Berghuis is in the background. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth wing Cammie Dumais, left, skates through the corner while seeking a path past a Rensselaer defender yesterday at Thompson Arena. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
  • Dartmouth center Ailish Forfar prepares for a first-period faceoff against visiting Rensselaer yesterday at Thompson Arena. Teammate Catherine Berghuis is in the background. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Hanover — The Dartmouth College women’s hockey team lost 2-2 to Rensselaer yesterday at Thompson Arena. Well, not exactly. But that’s how it felt after the Big Green turned apparent victory into an utterly unsatisfying draw.

Leading 2-0 with six minutes to play, Dartmouth surrendered a power-play goal and then an even strength because of a dreadful faceoff operation in its own end. The Big Green was actually fortunate to escape without a loss, for RPI fired a shot off the crossbar with two minutes remaining in regulation time and took a wide-open shot from the slot midway through the extra stanza.

“We came up short on effort and shot ourselves in the foot by spending a lot of time in the penalty box,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak, whose team committed 10 of the chippy game’s 17 penalties. “It was some of our upperclassmen who took retaliatory penalties, and those are the people we count on to lead the way. They didn’t do that today.”

Said senior Jenna Hobeika: “To have the game in our hands and then to lose it like that is definitely disappointing, but it has to be a learning experience for us. It goes to show you have to play hard right to the end.”

Peevishness pervaded the contest. A clutch-and-grab style led to scrums in the corners, along the boards and near the creases. Heads were pushed into the ice, takedowns worthy of a wrestling ring occurred and slashes and roughing became commonplace.

“We were in the box for a good portion of the game,” said Hobeika, whose team began the day second in the ECAC in penalty minutes. “Some of them were just mental errors.”

Dartmouth held a 12-4 shot advantage in the first period, but hamstrung itself with four penalties. Hobeika was whistled for knocking down an opponent on an overzealous forecheck, 200 feet from her own net. The Big Green was twice penalized for having too many players on the ice, and Cammie Dumais added a hooking foul.

Dartmouth opened the scoring in the third minute and on a power play. Olivia Whitford passed from the left point to the right, from where partner Sasha Nanji glided in to the top of the circle. The senior ripped a shot over the glove of goaltender Kelly O’Brien and inside the near post.

The Big Green tallied again with seven seconds remaining in the first period. Laura Stacey and Sally Komarek took off on a 2-on-1 rush, the former pivoting sideways so she could send a forehand pass to the latter, who scored into the net’s right side.

Despite being outshot 24-11 with six minutes remaining in the third period, RPI caused tension among Dartmouth backers when it used a power-play tally to pull within 2-1. After roughly five seconds of scrambling near the Big Green crease, Eleeza Cox scored with a shot from the slot and along the ice.

That feeling only grew when Cox soon rang a shot off the crossbar from the left circle. Hudak used his timeout at the next whistle, gesturing in animated fashion to his gathered troops.

The break didn’t help. RPI’s Alexa Gruschow immediately beat Reagan Fischer on a faceoff to goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft’s left, leading to a slap shot goal by Jenn Godin.

“The message (during the timeout) was don’t lose the faceoff,” Hudak said. “In your zone, you’re fine with a draw. Just tie up the other kid’s stick. That’s Hockey 101.

“We lost the faceoff cleanly and another forward didn’t come through hard to try and block the shot. That’s the game.”

The result leaves Dartmouth sixth in the 12-team ECAC, a point behind St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac. Given how tightly the standings are usually bunched come the season’s last weekend, earning a tie instead of a victory can have substantial repercussions.

“That’s a huge point,” said Hudak, whose squad is 12-5-3 overall and 7-4-2 in conference play. “If we had won today, we would have been tied with Quinnipiac for fifth place. We’re not doing ourselves any favors.”

Notes: Dartmouth had been 11-0-0 when leading after two periods this season… RPI improved to 6-15-3 and 4-7-1… Bob Ceplikas, Dartmouth’s deputy director of athletics, said yesterday that while Athletic Director Harry Sheehy has spent the last three weeks at the bedside of his ill wife, Connie, he has not taken a formal leave of absence. Ceplikas, who served as Dartmouth’s Acting Athletic Director during the 2009-10 school year, said he attends meetings on Sheehy’s behalf, but consults with him about such appearances. Connie Sheehy is suffering from a serious respiratory illness at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. … Geneva Kliman, a former Dartmouth defenseman who was not asked back for her 2011-12 senior season, has resurfaced as a graduate student at Ontario’s Wilfred Laurier University. The Toronto native, who fell 44 feet with a companion from the roof of Dartmouth’s Alpha Delta fraternity and needed facial reconstruction in June 2011, had a goal and four assists as WLU won 16 of its first 19 games.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.