Dutchmen Pound Punchless Big Green
Dartmouth College goaltender Charles Grant watches a shot by Union's Matt Wilkins (19) sail over prone teammate Geoff Ferguson en route to bouncing off the post during last night's ECAC game at Thompson Arena. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth College players celebrate Andy Simpson's third-period goal Saturday during the Big Green's 7-2 loss to ECAC foe Union at Thompson Arena. Cardboard cutouts of college president Phil Hanlon and team captain Tyler Sikura loom in the background. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — The Dartmouth College men’s hockey team took an absolute beating Friday night, falling 7-2 to visiting Union in a game that wasn’t that close and which the Dutchmen led, 5-0, before easing off the gas. Union hit two posts and went scoreless in six power-play chances, so it wasn’t as if the visitors were firing on all cylinders.
No, the Big Green was simply abysmal in its ECAC opener.
“It’s a game of momentum, and they took it and took it early,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, whose program is 0-3 for the first time since the 2009-10 season, when the Big Green finished 10-19-3 and ninth in the 12-team conference.
“We got behind and we didn’t have the answers. They outdid us in every facet of the game from the coach on down.”
The hosts didn’t help themselves by committing five of the game’s first seven penalties and seven in the game. Included were fouls for an elbow to the head, unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing and grasping the face mask. You might think such a rap sheet would indicate effective, physical play. But that wasn’t the case for a team that allowed Union to buzz around its net unimpeded much of the evening.
“There’s no secret formula to what happened,” said Dartmouth captain Tyler Sikura, whose team hosts Rensselaer today. “A team came into our barn, wanted it more and outworked us. We have systems that work and players who are established in the league, but we have to play better and harder and that starts with me.
“We have to come out tomorrow with a lot more fire than we did tonight.”
Things began to slide downhill for Dartmouth even before the game, when goaltender Charles Kruger hurt a finger during warmups. Once the puck dropped, Union scored in the fourth minute of the first period, the second minute of the second period and the second minute of the third period.
Big Green goaltender Charles Grant was replaced by Cab Morris after surrendering a pair of soft tallies that gave the Dutchmen (2-2-2, 1-0) a 5-0 lead late in the second period. But the sophomore didn’t get much help, either.
“You have to show some passion, and it’s got to come from within you,” Sikura said. “It’s not about one big play, it’s about chipping away, chipping away.”
Dartmouth salvaged a bit of pride with third-period goals from Andy Simpson and Eric Neiley, but there was still no denying its role as Union’s chew toy.
“They won every 50-50 battle, and when they came up with the puck, everyone on our end was scrambling and that’s when they got their chances,” Sikura said. “It’s nothing major that we have to fix. It’s wanting the puck more than they do.”
Said a downcast Gaudet: “It’s disappointing, because we’re better than that. There were only three (freshmen) playing, so it’s a team I know can play, but it was one of those nights where we were just a step slow.”
Notes: Dartmouth played without senior forward Erin Robinson, who aggravated what Gaudet called “a recurring upper body injury” during Thursday’s practice. … Dustin Walsh, a former Big Green standout who graduated earlier this year and was drafted earlier in his career by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, was not signed by the organization and is currently out of hockey. The Canadiens retain Walsh’s rights for one year after his last amateur game. … Neiley has a goal in each game this season. … Dartmouth had won its last two home openers. … Grant was also pulled from the Big Green’s last game with Union, last season’s finale in the ECAC playoff quarterfinals.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.