Big Green Open ECAC Hockey Play at Home Against Familiar Foes
Dartmouth (1-0-1, 0-0-0 ECAC) vs. Yale (1-0-1, 0-0-0 ECAC)
• Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 • 7 PM • Hanover, N.H.
• Thompson Arena (4,500)
• All-Time Series: Yale, 106-87-14
• Last Meeting: Oct. 26, 2012: T, 2-2 • Streak: 0-0-1
Dartmouth (1-0-1, 0-0-0 ECAC) vs. Brown (1-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC)
• Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 • 7 PM• Hanover, N.H.
• Thompson Arena (4,500)
• All-Time Series: Dartmouth, 74-63-8
• Last Meeting: Oct. 27, 2012: W, 4-0 • Streak: 9-0-1
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Chris Garret (PbP)
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WEEKEND DÉJÀ VU
For the second straight weekend, the Big Green will play the same two opponents in the same order as Yale and Brown come to Thompson Arena Friday and Saturday nights. In the first game of the 2012 Ivy Shootout, Dartmouth battled Yale to a 2-2 tie, before advancing to the championship with a 2-0 shootout win. Against Brown on Saturday, the Green and White claimed the title with a 4-0 blanking on the Bears' home ice.
ECAC HOCKEY OPENER
After two non-conference games to start the season against conference opponents, Friday and Saturday mark the official opening of ECAC Hockey play. Dartmouth began last season 2-0 in league contests with a come-from-behind win against Quinnipiac, 5-4, and a 5-3 victory against Princeton the following evening inside a raucous Thompson Arena.
After a rough 2011-12 campaign with both the power play and penalty kill, it looks as though this year will be a bit different for the Big Green. Dartmouth went 3-for-9 (33.3%) with the man-advantage, while not surrendering a goal down a player, killing off all seven shorthanded situations.
Junior Eric Robinson was back to his old ways of a year ago and leads the team in goals through two games. His first of the year came on the power play late in the contest with Yale. One-timing home a pretty pass from sophomore Tyler Sikura, Robinson tied the game with just 3:04 remaining. Sikura and classmate Eric Neiley beat the Bulldogs' Nick Maricic in the shootout to help their team advance.
Known for strong goalies the last four years, the Big Green aren't as battle tested at the position this year. At least that's what people thought until this past weekend. Junior Cab Morris stopped 18 shots and came up with a key save in the shootout Friday against Yale. Freshman Charles Grant followed up with a 24-save shutout Saturday night against the host Bears for the team's first win of 2012-13.
Grant became the first Dartmouth goalie since Wesley Goding '39 to record a shutout in his first career appearance. Goding accomplished the feat on Dec. 12, 1936 against Columbia in a 9-0 win. There is no record of how many saves Goding had to make to earn the shutout, but like Grant, it also came in the second game of the season (1936-37).
FRESHMEN JUMP UP
Both Tim O'Brien and Brett Patterson had a productive first weekend in Dartmouth sweaters while in Providence. O'Brien opened up the season scoring less than three minutes into the game with Yale as he beat Maricic with a laser shot coming down the right side of the ice. Not as pretty, but equally as impressive in his determination to score, Patterson poke-checked a loose puck off a Brown defender's stick and into an open netmouth through a scrum in front.
START ME UP
O'Brien became the first Dartmouth freshman to score the team's first goal of a season since Evan Stephens did it on Oct. 28, 2007 at Vermont 3:19 into the second period to open 2007-08. Stephens had some freshman help with assists from classmates Adam Estoclet and Matt Reber.
Last season, Robinson led the team with 12 goals. This year he already has a team-best two through one weekend. Junior Matt Linblad had a team-leading 18 helpers in a sophomore season that was cut short by injury. Through his first two games this season, the Winnetka, Ill., native has three assists as he has set up all of the team's power-play tallies.
Originally credited to junior defenseman Taylor Boldt, Dartmouth's third goal against Brown was eventually awarded to sophomore center Tyler Sikura with a redirect in the low slot. The goal was his first of the year, but was nearly the exact same play that he scored on McGill during the preseason.
The 4-0 win at Brown marked just the second time in head coach Bob Gaudet's tenure that the Big Green have blanked an opponent during the team's season-opening weekend. The last time it happened was Gaudet's first season on the job, beating Union on the road, 4-0, on Nov. 8, 1997.
MOVE HIM TO MEEHAN
Robinson has proven himself over the last two seasons to be a formidable scoring threat for the Big Green. But if he were to don the colors of Brown, the Foxborough, Mass., native might be the top player in the league. That second part might not be true, but Robinson certainly does enjoy playing at Meehan Auditorium. Including last weekend, the junior wing now has four goals in his last three games at Brown's home rink. He scored in each of the season's first two contests and had a two-goal game in the Bears' home finale on Feb. 18, 2011.
LAST TIME WE BLANKED 'EM
Dartmouth's 4-0 win Saturday night snapped a stretch of 46 games without a shutout. The last time the Big Green held an opponent without a goal was Feb. 4, 2011 and came at Brown. James Mello stopped all 39 shots he faced that night in Providence.
• Dartmouth's tie and subsequent shootout win over Yale also marked the end to another streak. The Bulldogs had beaten the Big Green 10 straight games dating back to Jan. 9, 2009 when the Elis edged out the Green and White, 2-1. The last time Dartmouth came away with anything but a loss to Yale before the 2-2 draw was a 7-2 thrashing of the Bulldogs on Feb. 23, 2008.
• It's been a different story against the Bears as the Big Green have not lost in their last 10 in the series. Posting a 9-0-1 mark against Brown in that time, Dartmouth has won the last five meetings with a 5-5 tie on Feb. 6, 2010 the last time it failed to win. The Bears' most recent victory against the Green and White came against Feb. 22, 2008 (5-4).
FAMILIAR FOES ARE
After this weekend, the last nine meaningful games dating back to the end of last season have come against just four opponents. St. Lawrence came to Hanover for the regular season finale in 2011-12 before Dartmouth went to Canton the following weekend to pick up the two-game sweep. A two-game swing to Cornell for the next round was the last of the year for Dartmouth. However, the team picked right back up where it left off with games against Yale and Brown in consecutive weekends to open 2012-13.
Fans of the Big Green know senior forward Dustin Walsh and the superb talents he posses. But, fans around the league will hopefully get a glimpse of the Montreal Canadiens draft pick this weekend in a return to the lineup. Walsh has been out since last January, recovering from a lower-body injury. Having missed the team's last 21 games dating back to Jan. 7 of last year through last weekend in Providence, Walsh's scoring touch would be a welcome addition back into an already skilled forward group. In just eight games in 2011-12, Walsh had 10 points, good for an impressive 1.25 points per game.
BAY STATE LINE
Despite not scoring a goal together at Meehan, the line of Massachusetts natives Robinson, sophomore Brandon McNally and Nick Bligh was buzzing. Robinson scored twice on the power-play unit, while McNally and Bligh combined for several scoring chances through the first four periods of the weekend.
FOURTH LINE FINESSE
Rather than the traditional grinding fourth line, Coach Gaudet and his staff opted for a skilled group of freshman forwards to make up the fourth combination against the Bulldogs and Bears. O'Brien joined Jack Barre and center Connor Dempsey as a group that showed several times their ability to get pucks on goal and create offensive opportunities.
Playing without former partner Jim Gaudet for the first time in two years, Boldt registered an assist on Dartmouth's third power-play goal of the year when his shot from the point was redirected by Sikura in the slot. As a sophomore last winter, Boldt had four points (all assists) in a defensive-oriented role with the team. He now has one goal and seven helpers for eight career points.
TURN IT AROUND
It took the Big Green until Nov. 18 last season before they scored their second power-play goal. This season, the man-advantage has found the back of the net three times in its first two games