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‘Little Mistakes’ Spell Doom For Big Green

Princeton Rallies Past Dartmouth

Dartmouth College's Ali Winkel (3) skates from behind her own net Friday after avoiding Princeton forechecker Jaime McDonell. The Big Green surrendered a one-goal lead in a 3-2 ECAC loss at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Dartmouth College's Ali Winkel (3) skates from behind her own net Friday after avoiding Princeton forechecker Jaime McDonell. The Big Green surrendered a one-goal lead in a 3-2 ECAC loss at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Hanover — Pass the patience and make it a nice, big helping. It might be liberally needed this winter when it comes to the Dartmouth College women’s hockey team.

Up by a goal and seemingly in control of its ECAC opener with visiting Princeton on Friday, the Big Green surrendered the tying tally 40 seconds into the third period and the deciding strike with seven minutes remaining in what became a 3-2 defeat. Dartmouth has lost its first two games of the season for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign.

“We played a more consistent and better 60 minutes than we did against BC,” said coach Mark Hudak, whose team fell 7-2 at Boston College last weekend. “But we made a lot of little mistakes that cost us on defense. A lot of it is youth and inexperience and those are things that we just have to get better at.”

With six freshman, five sophomores and only one senior dressed among its 15 skaters, Dartmouth oozed inexperience. The other senior, goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft, kept the hosts afloat with 27 saves, but she was let down by a defense that couldn’t clear rebounds and allowed too many point-blank shots.

Offensively, Dartmouth didn’t get the puck deep in the Princeton zone often enough, allowing the Tigers to stage quick transitions through center ice. And still, for much of the second period, it was the Big Green’s game to lose.

“Hopefully, in a month or a month and a half, we’ll be able to take advantage of that kind of situation,” said Hudak, whose team hosts No. 8 Quinnipiac (5-1-1, 0-1) this afternoon. “We’ve got some good young players but it’s going to take some time.”

Dartmouth took a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the game when Catherine Berghuis charged through the left circle and swatted home the rebound of a Morgan Illikainen shot. Fewer than two minutes later, however, sophomore defenseman Olivia Whitford had her pocket picked in the Big Green slot by Cassidy Tucker. She then beat Holdcroft with a backhand for a 1-1 tie.

An Illikainen slap shot from the point deflected in off the knee of teammate Katy Ratty for a 2-1 lead four minutes into the second period, but Dartmouth couldn’t get an additional tally that might have put the Tigers (1-0, 1-0) away.

In the third, Denna Laing popped a shot from the slot past Holdcroft, and Hilary Lloyd swept in a rebound at the left post to give Princeton the victory.

“One more goal for us would have been huge, but once they got (the tying) goal, we kind of got down on ourselves and it turned into another goal for them,” said Big Green senior center Ali Winkel. “It was just really frustrating because we had a lot of energy and were ahead and then we made some really small mistakes that led to goals.”

Dartmouth also hurt itself by taking five consecutive penalties during the second and third periods, including four of five fouls called in the final stanza. Lindsey Allen tripped a Tiger in center ice, Karlee Odland slammed a foe into the boards behind Holdcroft and Laura Stacey retaliated and earned a matching minor after being knocked down in the offensive zone.

Odland, a junior, put Dartmouth down two players with four minutes remaining with her penalty.

“That’s a situation where you have to understand that we’re already one person down and (the attacker) has her back to the play and she’s behind the net,” Hudak said. “She can’t do anything dangerous at that point, so don’t make that aggressive a play on her.”

There’s a lot of learning to be done, but Hudak, judging by his calm, postgame demeanor, has swallowed that big dose of patience.

“What we’re trying to do isn’t quite there yet, but we see framework,” he said.

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