Series Record: 77-43-3 Cornell
Saturday November 17, 2012
November 12, 2011, January 20, 2012, March 9, 2012, & March 10, 2012
Cornell hosted the Big Green from the wilderness (not just a Hanover joke, check Dartmouth's coat of arms) for the 2012 ECAC Quarterfinals. The Big Green challenged the Big Red in the first game as it pushed Cornell to set a record for the longest men's ice hockey game to be played at Lynah Rink (it was the longest game played, but the next evening the Lady Rouge broke the record in the 2012 NCAA Quarterfinals against BU). Sean Whitney said enough was enough and ended the tilt with an overtime-winning goal allowing Cornell to tally a win in the first game. Cornell made quick work of the guests from New Hampshire in the second game closing out the series with a sweep winning the contests 4-3 (2OT) and 3-1.
The first regular-season meeting witnessed a young Cornell team prove that it could handle the high of an emotional win having beaten Harvard at Lynah East the previous evening. Cornell had faltered the previous week with the young team's inability to handle the euphoria of ending a long winless streak against Yale to lose to Brown the next evening. No such thing happened after the Harvard win as Cornell defeated Dartmouth 3-2. The second regular-season took on a tenor more similar to the first 2012 ECAC Quarterfinal game as it required an extra frame to decide the victor. However, in the early season rehearsal for the postseason clash, it was Bardreau who played the role of Whitney with the overtime-winning goal.
Cornell swept Dartmouth last season. Cornell earned a record of 4-0-0 against the Big Green last season. However, two of those four games required extra time to decide which team emerged victorious. This in itself illustrates how evenly matched the teams were last season.
The answer to a late-season trivia question was answered Friday evening as Cornell dropped its game to Princeton. Cornell and Dartmouth were the last programs standing in the nation without a loss marring their records. Dartmouth continued winning last weekend. It was the last program remaining without a loss in the 2012-13 season heading into the weekend.
The Big Green began its season with the borderline foolish and irrelevant Ivy Shootout. Dartmouth tied Yale and defeated Brown. It then played the same teams in the same order the following weekend. This time, the Big Green improved its performance to a sweep. The trend continued as the Big Green rolled past an RPI time that did not manage to score a single goal last weekend. Dartmouth capitalized where Harvard could not on Union's loss of starting goaltender and need to rely upon talent further down its depth charts. Big Green the Dutchmen 3-2.
Dartmouth brings with it two national top-ten point producers in sophomore forward Sikura and junior forward Robinson. Robinson leads the nation in terms of goal production with 1.17 goals per game. Sikura is ranked second in the nation in terms of short-handed goals scored with two.
Dartmouth's goaltending leaves little to be desired for Gaudet. Junior Cab Morris is ranked nationally second in terms of goals against average (1.22) and fourth in terms of save percentage (0.946). Morris has played five of Dartmouth's six games. Freshman Charles Grant played the other game. He delivered a shutout of Brown in his collegiate debut.
Dartmouth averages the fifth greatest rate of goal production with 3.67 goals per game. The Big Green defense has been less than accommodating goals scored against it allowing only 1.50 goals per games. Adding to the discipline that one can expect of a team with such numbers is the fact that Dartmouth is the second-least penalized team in the nation.
The one weakness for the Dartmouthians appears to be its power-play conversion. Only 18.2% of their power-play opportunities have been converted for goals. It places them as firmly middling in the nation. However, special teams overall are not a weakness as Dartmouth is second-best on penalty killing going into the weekend having killed 95.8% of penalties awarded against it.
The cumulative record of Dartmouth's opponents so far this season is 11-12-6. Union and Yale appear to be respectable teams this season. The Big Green has amassed a record of 2-0-1 in its three games against them. Dartmouth will have departed from Hanover for East Hill having just beaten Union. Union is not at its fullest potential having lost goaltender Grosenick and captain Mat Bodie to injury. No matter how one can rationalize discounting the achievements of Dartmouth in terms of results and statistics this season, one thing is clear, Dartmouth will be a program that must be taken very seriously at this point in the season.
Keys to the Game:
The first key is to not underestimate the Big Green on the ice in terms of play or strategy. Their numbers might be somewhat inflated, but they are indicative of a very powerful team that is sound in almost all aspects of the game. Dartmouth must not be underestimated.
The mere presence of Sikura on the team and his national statistical recognition as one of the leading scorers of short-hand goals indicates how even on the power play this team from Hanover is dangerous. Dartmouth has scored half as many short-handed goals as it has power-play goals.
Dartmouth will not allow many quality power-play opportunities when Cornell is on the power play. Capitalizing on those few opportunities afforded Cornell will be key. Special teams are unlikely to become the factor that wins this game for Cornell. However, if Cornell draws too many needless penalties through lack of discipline, like it did a few times against Quinnipiac, special teams may be what loses this game for Cornell.
Opponents of Dartmouth have not committed an abnormally high number of penalties. Dartmouth does not rely upon its opponents's exhaustion from man-advantage play. Dartmouth has defeated its opponents through capitalization on their even-strength mistakes and through extreme discipline that gives opponents very few man-advantage opportunities.
Cornell has the skill to win the game against Dartmouth. There is no question. However, Cornell must play like it did against Colorado College to defeat the Big Green. With absolute discipline. Lack of focus and discipline derailed Cornell's would-have-been success last weekend through collapses in systems and commission of needless penalties. Cornell cannot make those mistakes to defeat Dartmouth at this point in the season. Cornell will need to play more disciplined than Dartmouth to win this game. If the Big Red can do that, the game will become one of skill, and the Big Red will win in such a contest. Cornell must allow its immense talent and depth to shine without sound systemics against Dartmouth. If the Big Red's discipline dissipates, it will be very difficult for Cornell to win.
Three programs that are members of the ECAC have not won an ECAC Championship. Dartmouth is one of them. The other two are Brown and Quinnipiac. Dartmouth is a program that had great success before the formation of the ECAC. That period included a span between 1941 and 1945 during which Dartmouth went 46 consecutive games without a loss. That era has long been forgotten or dismissed as irrelevant. However, Dartmouth remaining as the last undefeated team in the nation for the 2012-13 season and with the Big Green atop the early season ECAC standings, Dartmouth has begun to think that a renaissance of Dartmouth hockey may be possible. The results of the clash against Cornell on Saturday according to many will go a long way in indicating whether such ambitions are pipe dreams or attainable goals.
Keggy should travel to hockey games.