Loss Leaves Green In Search of Answers

Dartmouth College goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft denies Northeastern's Brittany Esposito to make one of her 40 saves on Friday. The visiting Huskies won, 2-1, in overtime. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Dartmouth College goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft denies Northeastern's Brittany Esposito to make one of her 40 saves on Friday. The visiting Huskies won, 2-1, in overtime. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

Hanover — There are losses in athletics that don’t just rattle the mind, but leave a bruise on the psyche. Judging by their reactions after Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss to visiting Northeastern, the members of the Dartmouth College women’s hockey team were dealing with one of those sort of setbacks.

Big Green coach Mark Hudak didn’t speak to his team very long after the nonconference game, but his words presumably conveyed the displeasure written all over his face. There then followed a 15-minute, players-only meeting, from which emerged stalwart goaltender Lindsay Holdcroft, also visibly unhappy.

The diminutive netminder is usually upbeat. This time, however, she had a few things to get off her chest protector.

“We made some mental errors that were avoidable,” said Holdcroft, a senior who made 40 saves, many of them from the low slot. “We were up 1-0 after two periods, but we didn’t take to heart what our coaches were telling us about not playing well. If we kept playing like that we were gambling with the outcome and it caught up to us at the end.”

Dartmouth, which fell to an uncharacteristic 2-8, opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Karlee Odland curled out of the right corner and sent home a shot off a defender. The hosts held on until seven minutes remained in the third period, when Northeastern’s Hayley Scamurra was allowed to curl out from behind the net before firing a shot from just below the right circle and under the crossbar.

“We have a little trouble getting back into the game when things aren’t going our way,” Holdcroft said. “It was still a 1-1 game, but it’s crazy how one goal at a certain time can affect a team.”

In overtime, Holdcroft made a pair of point-blank saves during a goalmouth scramble before Kelly Wallace shoveled in a high backhander from the left side of the low slot. The Huskies improved to 7-9-1 and got far too many close-range shots for Holdcroft’s liking.

“We would get fixated on our checks in the defensive zone and leave people alone in the slot,” said the goaltender, whose team plays at Harvard on Sunday. “We’re often content to let the other team win the puck and then play defense. We need to battle harder and be a little tougher.”

Said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak: “We got what we deserved. We’re counting on inexperienced kids to perform and they’re not ready for it. It’s frustrating for all of us and we’re taking our knocks.”

The Big Green graduated four of its top five scorers from last season, lost sophomore forward Ailish Forfar for the season because of a hip injury and then saw classmate and offensive star Laura Stacey go down earlier this month with a partially torn knee ligament. Dartmouth currently has nine forwards and six defensemen, and that’s it for skaters in front of Holdcroft, who’s backed up by a freshman.

Inexperience and fatigue combine to cause inconsistent play, meaning the Big Green has to weather more momentum shifts than Hudak would like.

Throw in some irresponsible fouls, and it wasn’t a night to remember for the man behind the bench.

“We’ll go three or four shifts where we’re doing really good things and then we commit a bad penalty or give away a puck and now we’re stuck in our end,” Hudak said. “You have to have patience, but there are things we’re continually doing that we shouldn’t be continually doing at this point.

“On a scale of 1-10, I certainly don’t expect a 10, but I think we could be a six. Right now, we’re a four or a five.”

Concluded Holdcroft: “We’re going to have to play a whole lot better at Harvard if we’re going to get a win.”

Notes: Holdcroft’s career high in saves is 43, set on Feb. 12, 2012, against Quinnipac. … Northeastern leads the teams’ series, 29-7-3. … Hudak said he hopes that Stacey can return to action within a couple of weeks. The forward is back skating, but not at full speed. … Dartmouth is 1-4 at Thompson Arena after going 7-2-4 there last winter … Hudak has 198 career victories and Holdcroft has 49.

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