Big Green Hit the Road For a Friday Night Tilt at Rensselaer
|Dartmouth (3-13-3, 2-9-1) vs.
Rensselaer (8-10-4, 3-5-3)
▶ Fri., Jan. 24, 2014 ▶ 7 PM ▶ Troy, N.Y.
▶ Houston Field House (5,217)
▶ All-Time Series: 32-43-5 (81st Meeting)
▶ Last Meeting: Nov. 2, 2013 - L, 7-1 (Hanover)
▶ Streak: 0-2-0
Radio: WFRD 99.3 (iHeartRadio) / DartmouthSports.com
Play-by-Play: Chris Garrett
Live Stats: DartmouthSports.com
Live Video: RPItv.org
2013-14 Digital Press Box
It’s a one-game weekend for the Dartmouth men’s hockey team as it will travel to Troy, N.Y., for a Friday night meeting with Rensselaer at Houston Field House at 7 p.m. The Big Green have already completed their season series with the Engineers’ travel partner Union, having made the trek to Schenectady in December.
LAST TIME OUT
It was a tie that felt more like a win Saturday night as Dartmouth earned an ECAC Hockey point in the standings with a 1-1 tie against No. 12 Cornell. After falling behind in the early minutes of the game, the home team battled back to tie it up in the second and control play much of the contest, only to be thwarted several times by Big Red goaltender Andy Iles.
A preseason favorite to contend for the ECAC Hockey title, Rensselaer has had a tough go of it in 2013-14. Currently on a four-game losing streak and a six-game winless stretch (0-5-1), the Engineers are 8-10-4 overall and have fallen out of the national rankings. If the season were to end right now, RPI’s 9 points (3-5-3) in ECAC Hockey play would have them hanging on to the eighth seed and the last team to secure home-ice in the first round. Though the team is not playing to the elevated expectations, junior Ryan Haggerty has been an offensive force this season, potting 18 goals in 22 games to rank second in the nation. The loss of sophomore goalie Jason Kasdorf to a season-ending injury earlier in the year has thrust Scott Diebold back into the starter’s role where he has a 7-9-4 record and a respectable .909 save percentage and 2.63 goals-against average.
AGAINST THE ENGINEERS
The Engineers are a different team than the one that handed Dartmouth its most lopsided defeat in recent memory on Nov. 10 in Hanover. The 7-1 win saw Brock Higgs pick up a hat trick, while Haggerty and Matt Neal each had three points on one goal and two assists. Freshman Troy Crema got the Green on the board with a power-play marker at 14:43 of the third to cut the deficit to five, only to see a Luke Cardi goal minutes later put the finishing touches on the contest.
The Dartmouth player to force the draw against Cornell was sophomore winger Connor Dempsey. The Winthrop, Mass., native redirected a puck at the far post into an open net for the first goal of his collegiate career, earning the only come-from-behind point of the season for the Green and White.
Making just the second start of his career and the first since the season opener on Oct. 25, sophomore James Kruger turned aside a career-high 23 shots against Cornell on Saturday night. Kruger was injured by a shot in warm-ups the following weekend and had not played since getting the nod against the Red.
Dartmouth and Cornell are no strangers to overtime games as the most recent contest was the sixth in the last 10 meetings to need overtime. The Big Green are 0-3-3 in those meetings dating back to January 2011. The team is also 0-3-3 this season in overtime contests.
IVY LEAGUE UPDATE
Though the team may sit 12th in ECAC Hockey, the Green are currently third in the Ivy League standings at 2-2-1. Wins against Harvard (Nov. 30) and at Yale (Dec. 6) in addition to the most recent tie with Cornell have given the team from the Upper Valley 5 points, trailing only the Big Red (9) and Brown (6).
Sophomore defender Geoff Ferguson was the lone player to have multiple points during the Colgate/Cornell weekend. The second-year player from Ontario had the secondary assist on Brandon McNally’s goal in the opening period against the Raiders, while his shot from the point against the Big Red ended up on Connor Dempsey’s stick for the game-tying goal. For Ferguson, it marked the third time this season that he has recorded points in consecutive contests.
Junior Brandon McNally recorded the first goal of the weekend, putting home a rebound in the slot off a Troy Crema shot at 8:07 of the first period against Colgate on Friday. For McNally, it was the first goal in 10 games./
Two-of-three wins this season have come away from Thompson Arena, a place the Green had becoming accustomed to winning in prior to this year. With the struggles at home (1-6-2), Dartmouth will need to build on a better record on the road (2-4-1) that includes victories against No. 8 Yale and Boston University in addition to a 1-1 tie with No. 20 Vermont.
MISLEADING +/- MARK
The Big Green have an overall +/- mark of -86 this season. Not a great number by any stretch, but it is a misleading figure at this point in the schedule. The first six games of the year saw Dartmouth players combine to post a -96 figure. In the 13 games since, the Green and White are a combined +10.
After a hot start to the season where they ranked as one of the top power-play units in the country, injuries and shuffled lineups have left the Big Green struggling to find a new identity with the man-advantage. Dartmouth is 0-for-15 with the power play in five games played in 2014.
In each of the last four games, the Big Green have outshot their opposition. In all but one of those contests (Colgate) was Dartmouth held to below 30 SOGs. A good barometer of the ability to get scoring chances, the figure has also not been friendly to the team in terms of wins and losses. Their record is just 2-7-1 in the 10 games where shots finish in the Big Green’s favor.
THREE GOALIES, ONE NET
With Kruger’s start against Cornell, Dartmouth now the only team in ECAC Hockey to start three goalies in at least two games this season. Sophomore Charles Grant has seen the majority of the action (13 GP/13 GS) with senior Cab Morris (5 GP/4 GS) and now Kruger (2 GP/2 GS) also seeing time in the crease.
WHERE’S THE RANKING?
As RPI is no longer in the national rankings, this weekend will mark the first time since a Nov. 30 match-up with Harvard that a team in the USCHO poll will not be on the docket on a Friday or Saturday for the Green.
Injuries continue to hamper Dartmouth down the stretch. To this point, the Big Green have lost 51 man games to injury, including Eric Robinson not being in the lineup for the last 17 with a shoulder issue. Captain Tyler Sikura remains out for the sixth straight game, while Brett Patterson’s return to the lineup is on a similar 4-6 week timetable with a hand injury.
After the one road game this weekend, Dartmouth returns home to play host to Quinnipiac and Princeton on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Currently, the Bobcats are No. 4 in both polls, while the Tigers have already picked up two overtime victories at the expense of the Big Green this season.