If Frost’s words are true, the 2012-13 Dartmouth men’s hockey season is merely a chapter in a book that continues to be written each winter.
This most recent segment began with promise, continued with an incredible amount of rising action, and concluded with a stagnant and repetitive plot that had become all too familiar for Big Green fans in recent years.
The youngest lineup in ECAC Hockey with 18 underclassmen started out the season as the hottest team in the country. The last program saddled with a loss, Dartmouth was 5-0-1 before an opponent finally got the better of it.
Eight wins in the first 12 games had the Green knocking on the door of major national recognition, earning the highest spot ever in the polls when an early January release had the team ranked No. 8.
However, a series of injuries and a difficult second half derailed what many in the Upper Valley hoped would be a run to unprecedented success, not seen by the program in a generation.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. But, what was seen in the 2012-13 campaign was a strong foundation of young talent and grit that should be the groundwork for greater achievements in the near future.
Once again, Tyler Sikura led the team in scoring. In just his sophomore year, the Aurora, Ontario, native has demonstrated his ability to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of a college roster, finding success with new linemates and consistently producing points each week.
Sikura led the team in goals (12), assists (20) and points (32), while also finding his name on the stat sheet more than any other Big Green player this season in ECAC Hockey games, scoring half his goals and posting 19 points in league contests.
Junior Eric Robinson began the year like few players had before, scoring eight times in the first seven games. Dartmouth’s first three game-winners of the season all were credited to the junior from Foxboro, Mass., including one in a wild 7-4 affair against the eventual national champion Yale Bulldogs on Nov. 2 to help snap the Green’s 11-game winless stretch to its longtime Ivy League foe.
A goaltending battle between junior Cab Morris and freshman Charles Grant developed throughout the year. A revolving door of goalie changes can sometimes be detrimental to a team, however, a former goaltender himself, head coach Bob Gaudet played his cards wisely each week as he inserted the individual who gave the Green and White the best chance to win.
Morris and Grant responded with stellar numbers. Morris posted a 2.14 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage mark in 19 games, while Grant registered figures of 2.77 and .911, respectively, in 16 starts.
The senior leadership of two-year captain Mike Keenan was on full display once again, guiding this young group through the second-half stretch run that eventually culminated in another ECAC Hockey Quarterfinal appearance.
A first-team All-Ivy and second-team All-ECAC Hockey selection, Keenan proved to be one of the most durable players in recent history as he finished his career having played in 101 straight contests, including all 34 his senior year. In addition to his durability, the defenseman from South Weymouth, Mass., chipped in at the offensive end when called upon, registering new career highs in goals (5), assists (11) and points (16).
What will stand out for many who followed the team throughout the year was the resilience shown by such a young group of players. Sophomore Jesse Beamish twice netted late-game tallies that proved crucial in Dartmouth’s fifth-place finish in the league standings. Beamish redirected a shot in with roughly seven minutes left against Harvard in a January home game to give his team the lead, while a wrap-around goal with 3:37 left in regulation helped the Green earn a tie and a point against Princeton, locking up home ice in the first round of the postseason tournament.
After dropping the first game to Harvard, the Green would battle back, taking the next two and the series to advance in the ECAC Tournament for the third straight season. The home team would waste little time in proving they belonged in an elite group, pummeling the Crimson by a combined score of 10-4 in those two victories.
Following the season, Keenan would sign on with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League (AHL), while junior Matt Lindblad signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins in the wake of the team’s quarterfinal loss to Union. Lindblad would go on to post impressive figures in limited games with the Providence Bruins (AHL) before returning to campus to continue his studies.
Home ice would be key for a team that thrived in front of the loyal support of fans that filled Thompson Arena each game. Winners of 12-of-18 home games, Dartmouth played to standing-room only crowds in all but one of those contests, never failing to give the people of the Upper Valley a show of determination and doggedness worthy of the price of admission.
Never was that more evident than when No. 2 New Hampshire came to Hanover for the Ledyard Classic, only to fall, 4-1, to up-and-coming No. 11 Dartmouth in front of a jam-packed Thompson Arena. The win proved that this group of players, buying into this system can compete with any team in the country on any given night.
The goal will not change. It is, and will always be, the continued chase of championships and excellence. The 2012-13 season was no different. This chapter of the Dartmouth men’s hockey story may not have been what many hoped for after such a promising start, but it does not tell the whole tale.
The next chapter is beginning to be written now, building on the recent history. If the triumphs of the past are any indication of what is to be expected, the next chapter should be even more exciting.
Assistant Director of Athletic Communications