No. 1 Boston College Awaits No. 11 Dartmouth in Saturday Matinee
No. 11/11 Dartmouth (5-1-2) vs. No. 1/1 Boston College (9-1-0)
- Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012 - 4 PM - Chestnut Hill, Mass.
- Kelley Rink at Conte Forum (7,884)
- All-Time Series: Boston College, 61-30-0
- Last Meeting: Nov. 30, 2008 (Home) - L, 2-1 (OT)
- Streak: 0-2-0
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Chris Garret (PbP)
Brett Drucker (Color)
FOR COMPLETE WEEKEND COVERAGE:
Dartmouth will begin a stretch of five straight non-conference games on the road Saturday at No. 1 Boston College. The Green are coming off an 0-1-1 weekend with hard-fought games at Colgate and No. 10 Cornell. The Big Green and Eagles will meet at Conte Forum for the scheduled 4 p.m. puck drop.
Dartmouth and Boston College are two of the four remaining one-loss teams in the country to this point. After dropping its first game of the year, the defending national champs have rattled off wins in their last nine for the longest streak in the nation this season. The Big Green began 2012-13 without a loss in its first six games (5-0-1) to hold on as the final team in the nation to suffer its first defeat. No. 2 Denver (9-1-0) and No. 3 New Hampshire (8-1-1) are the other two programs that have just one blemish to their record thus far.
LAST TIME OUT
The Green and White had a 4-1 lead early in the third period against Colgate Friday night in Hamilton, but suffered their first defeat as the Raiders stormed back with four-unanswered tallies to end the game. Although viewed as a devastating loss to take, Dartmouth moved on to Ithaca the following night and battled for a hard-earned point in the standings with a 1-1 tie. With the extra attacker on in the final minute, captain Mike Keenan's slap shot from the point found space inside the right post for the equalizer.
Playing close games with the Big Red have become customary the last few years for the team in Green and White. In the last 10 games between the two programs (including Saturday's 1-1 draw), nine have been decided by either one goal or have ended in a tie. Seven times one of the two teams have left the building a one-goal victor, while twice the teams have been unable to determine a winner through 65 minutes. The only game decided by more than a single goal in that stretch was Cornell's 3-1 Game 2 victory in last season's quarterfinal series. The first game of the weekend was a double-overtime thriller that ended in heartbreaking fashion for the visitors.
THIS WEEK'S POLLS
Even without taking a win on their two-game Central New York road swing, the Green were able to move up one spot in each of the two national polls this week. Dartmouth is now ranked No. 11 in both the USCHO.com Division I Poll as well as the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings. The No. 11 position matches the team's best ranking since the poll began in the fall of 1997. The last time the Big Green were as high as No. 11 came during the preseason of 2004-05 (September 27).
With two games in hand over Quinnipiac, Dartmouth enters its non-conference winter stretch as the leader in the ECAC Hockey standings with nine points. The Bobcats' four-game win streak against league foes has them second with eight points, while No. 8 Union and No. 17 Harvard sit tied for third with six points apiece.
For the first time all season, junior Eric Robinson and sophomore Tyler Sikura were held without a point in the team's tie at Cornell. Robinson had actually scored at least once in each of the team's first seven games before being denied by the Big Red. Sikura opened the season on a seven-game point streak that saw the sophomore post nearly half of his total output from his freshman season (25 points in 34 GP) in a fifth of the games as he has 12 points (5g/7a) to start 2012-13.
CHUCK THE GOALIE
Freshman Charles Grant was back in the Dartmouth net against Cornell for his first appearance since Nov. 2. Making his conference road debut in the toughest rink in the league for visiting goaltenders, Grant stopped 26 shots, including seven in overtime, to help Dartmouth to the 1-1 tie. Matching one of the league's top goaltenders at the other end in the Big Red's Andy Iles, Grant was up to the task of stopping nearly everything the opposition threw his way in front of the sold-out Lynah Rink crowd.
LATE GAME HEROICS
For the second time this season, the Big Green used a late goal in the third period to force an eventual tie. Robinson did it with 3:04 left against Yale in the season opener in Providence and Keenan did it against the Big Red with 51.4 seconds left. Keenan's blast was the first non-empty goal scored in the final minute of the third period since Feb. 6, 2010 when Adam Estoclet scored with 29 seconds left and the extra attacker on to pull Dartmouth even with Brown, 5-5, forcing OT and earning the one league point.
CONTINUE TO KILL
Last season, Dartmouth's penalty-killing unit ranked 52nd of 58 teams in Division I (111-143; 77.6%). Things have changed greatly since then as the Big Green currently rank as the best penalty killers in the nation to this point. The Green and White have successfully killed off 28-of-29 power plays this season for a rate of 96.6 percent. Following the weekend, Dartmouth has now killed off the last 19 opportunities opponents have had with the man-advantage dating back to a Nov. 2 game with Yale. That PK unit will be tested Saturday as BC has the nation's third-best power play at 27.5% (11-40).
- A former league opponent, Dartmouth and Boston College have had an interesting past against one another. The Eagles nipped the Green, 4-3, in just the second national championship game played back in 1949. In the all-time series, Boston College holds the decisive edge over the Big Green, 61-30-0.
- The Eagles have won the last two meetings between the programs, including a 2-1 overtime victory in Hanover on Nov. 30, 2008. The last game at Conte Forum was a 4-1 decision in favor of the home team.
- Dartmouth's last win against Boston College came on Nov. 26, 2002 (Also when the Eagles were ranked No. 1), when Mike Ouellette scored 2:39 into overtime for the 5-4 victory. Hugh Jessiman and Lee Stempniak were credited with assists on Ouellette's winner. Playing that night for the Eagles was Ben Lovejoy, older brother of current Big Green defenseman Nick Lovejoy and a future Dartmouth player himself, transferring to the Upper Valley following the end of the season.
No. 1 TEAMS
Saturday's matchup with the top-ranked Eagles will mark the first time any Dartmouth team has met up with an opponent ranked No. 1 in their respective sport since the women's lacrosse team beat Maryland in overtime, 9-8, on May 1, 2011. The women's lacrosse team played four opponents ranked in the top five last season, while the field hockey team just wrapped up a fall campaign that saw it play three opponents ranked in the top three, including the eventual national champion from Princeton and the national runners-up from North Carolina. The men's hockey team will play a team ranked in the top-10 for the third consecutive Saturday when it takes to the ice in Chestnut Hill.
WELCOME BACK, DUSTIN
Although he's been back in the lineup for three weeks, it wasn't until this past weekend that senior and alternate captain Dustin Walsh looked like himself on the ice. His second-period goal at Colgate was his first since New Year's Eve when he found the back of the net against St. Lawrence in the Ledyard Classic title game. He added an assist against Cornell as his feed from the goal line to the point set up Keenan for the game-tying score.
LEADER OF THE PACK
It's been the sophomores and the juniors that have garnered all the attention this season, but freshman Brad Schierhorn has been doing his job on a nightly basis. Since cracking the lineup the second weekend of the year, Schierhorn has been one of the toughest players for opposing teams to play against. His physical style that sees the first-year forward from Alaska crashing the net resulted in a goal against Colgate as he received a pass from classmate Jack Barre at the side of the net to bury a low shot for the two-goal lead. He is the only freshman with more than one goal through the first eight games of the season.
ROBINSON STILL LEADS
With his eighth goal of the season early in the third period at Colgate, Robinson still is the nation's leader in goals per game at 1.00. Although failing to score at Cornell, his eight goals are an impressive figure as the 12 goals in 34 games last season were a career high for the Foxborough, Mass., native. Only Niagara's Giancarlo Iuorio has scored more than the Dartmouth forward, with nine in 13 games.
The goaltending tandem of Grant and junior Cab Morris has been one of the strengths for head coach Bob Gaudet's team this season. The duo is the only two goaltenders from the same team to rank in the top 15 nationally in both goals-against average and winning percentage. Grant ranks second with a GAA of 1.55, while Morris is 14th, boasting a 1.97 figure. Grant's .833 winning percentage (2-0-1) is tied for third, while Morris is 15th at .700 (3-1-1). After his 26-save performance in Ithaca, Grant's .944 save percentage is fifth among qualifying netminders.
BATTLE AT THE TOP
As it stands now, Dartmouth's 1.88 goals against per game ranks third in the nation. However, that defensive unit will have its hands full against Boston College, a team that ranks eighth in the nation in scoring offense at 3.40 goals per contest. The Eagles' team defense is also eighth in the country, allowing just 2.00 goals against. Dartmouth's offense features a potent attack as its 3.38 goals per game are just back of Saturday's opponent for 10th in the nation.
The Big Green take fewer penalties than any other team in Division I. The Green average just 8.2 penalty minutes per game to rank 59th of 59 teams. Combine that ability to stay out of the box with the nation's best penalty-killing unit and it's clear that the coaching staff has preached discipline to this group of players.
OUT IN FRONT
Dartmouth has played with a lead an astonishing 54% of the time this season (197:13). Add in 128:19 (35.2%) for when it is tied with an opponent and the Big Green have only trailed for a combined 39:28 (10.2%) of play. Union is the closest team to Dartmouth, trailing opponents 21.1% of the time. In contrast, BC, the No. 1 team in the country, has been out in front in 40.7% of its games and trailed for 22.7%.