Dartmouth got an early goal from captain Mike Keenan at two minutes, 33 seconds of the first period and Vermont would respond nine minutes later to send the game into the first intermission deadlocked at one. The second period was the Dustin Walsh show, as he ripped a snipe in the slot past Hoffman just 29 seconds into the stanza and made it 3-1 with four minutes remaining. The lead was enough for Dartmouth, as they never looked back and defeated Vermont 4-2. Dartmouth improves to 7-2-2 on the season, while Vermont falls to 3-8-3.
What I Saw
- Vermont actually played one of the most confident games I have seen from them in the past two seasons. They were poised with the puck and played pretty good defense for the most part. The goals that Dartmouth scored on the night were on poor defensive coverage by the Catamounts, lapses that often happen against good teams, such as Dartmouth.
- Dartmouth has some skill and it was evident in their ability to take advantage of UVM mistakes. Despite having the play taken to them for much of the first two periods and being held to just four grade-A opportunities, the Big Green scored three goals against a strong Hockey East goaltender, in Brody Hoffman. They may have been held to few chances but they were able to take advantage of seemingly every mistake that the Catamount defense made.
- Early on it seemed as though Dartmouth would run away with the game, as they came out flying in the first five minutes of the first racing out to a 4-0 advantage in shots and the 1-0 lead. But Vermont fought back and gained confidence on a power-play 4:35 into the first period. They didn’t score on that power-play but they generated offense and shots, to the tune of five shots sent towards Hoffman in the two minutes. Vermont would score at 11:49 of the first to tie it up and would dominate play for the rest of the period.
What I Thought
- A healthy Dustin Walsh is a good piece of the puzzle for Dartmouth going forward and his presence on the ice was surely felt on this night. His two goals in the second period were goals that only goal scorers would score with ease, as Walsh did. The first one 29 seconds into the second period was a pure snipe over the shoulder from in the slot and the second was a great effort in front of the net, where Walsh found the puck and backhanded it past Hoffman. Walsh can be one of the best players in the ECAC when he plays with confidence, which has been lacking at points this season, but this effort could propel him to be a huge force down the stretch, kind of a diamond in the rough so to say.
- Vermont struggled with finishing their opportunities all night and the scoreboard showed it. Despite having some great opportunities in front of the net and most of the good opportunities, they failed to capitalize on many occasions In one instance, Kyle Reynolds received a pass on a power-play at the seven minute mark of the third period all alone in the slot and he fired wide. A goal would have brought the Catamounts within two goals midway through the third, but he just could not capitalize on the opportunity. The play was a microcosm of the night for Vermont and possibly a microcosm of all their losses this season. Finishing is so important in hockey and it was the difference in this game.
- The win was not pretty for Dartmouth, but they will take the win on home ice. In a game where they generated very few shots and quality opportunities, to the tune of 18 shots, the Big Green were very opportunistic and looked like a good team. Walsh and Sikura were the key players in the victory but Charles Grant also showed his grit in net in the win.
What They Said
Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said,
“I thought we actually played a really good hockey game tonight. 5 on 5 we really put the pressure on Dartmouth. They are really good team and the difference was that they capitalized on their chances.”
“Brody is upset because he felt that he didn’t play his best game tonight, but he has been the backbone of this team. Goaltending gives a team confidence and he has been sensational the first half the year. Our guys are believing in each other a little more now and we are generating some chances now, where I felt we weren’t even a few weeks ago. Its just about putting that wrong thing in the net.”
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said,
“I thought the Vermont team played really well. In the first period they took the momentum from us. They are a big strong team and their goaltender is a big, strong kid. We had some really timely goals. A difference maker like Dustin Walsh is huge because it looks like its going to be a close and he makes a couple of plays that were just fantastic.”
“We didn’t have a whole lot of attempts but Dustin Walsh made some things happen. Sikura and Linblad are feeling it pretty good as well for us.”
Dartmouth Forward Tyler Sikura said,
“We did enough and I don’t think we played our best game. We were timely and scored some nice goals. We kept it of the net and will take the win.”
What Else You Should Know
Vermont will have ten days off before another non-conference tilt against St. Lawrence on December 15. The Catamounts have played some good hockey in recent weeks and have played some tough competition. They were very posed with the puck in this tilt, but it didn’t amount to goals for them. They currently sit in seventh in the Hockey East standings and their next conference game will be on the 20th against Providence on the road.
Dartmouth continues its good play and won’t play again until December 29th when they face in-state rival New Hampshire. The game will be a test for Dartmouth like the Boston College game was. It will be an interesting matchup on paper as both teams have impressive penalty-kill units and both sit near the top of the Pairwise rankings.