Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Know Your Enemy: Dartmouth

Every time it seems like Dartmouth is on the verge of possibly breaking through, they seem to suffer a setback of some kind, and last year was mostly a setback for the Big Green, who were second only to RPI in the category of biggest disappointments when compared to pre-season expectations for last season. Like the Engineers, most expected the Big Green to compete for the bye, instead they lost the fight for home ice in the first round.

Dartmouth

Nickname: Big Green
Location: Hanover, NH
Founded: 1769
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 1980
Last Frozen Four: 1980
Coach: Bob Gaudet (16th season)
2011-12 Record: 13-16-4 (8-11-3 ECAC, 9th place)
Series: RPI leads, 41-31-5
First Game: January 17, 1908 (Albany, NY)
Last RPI win: February 11, 2012 (Hanover, NH)
Last DC win: January 6, 2012 (Troy, NY)

2011-12 games: November 9, 2012 (Hanover, NH); February 2, 2013 (Troy, NY)

Key players: D Mike Keenan, sr.; F Dustin Walsh, sr.; D Taylor Boldt, jr.; F Matt Lindblad, jr.; G Cab Morris, jr.; F Eric Robinson, jr.;  F Jesse Beamish, so.; F Brandon McNally, so.; F Eric Neiley, so.; F Tyler Sikura, so.; F Jack Barre, fr.; F Nicholas Bligh, fr.; F Connor Dempsey, fr.; G Jim Kruger, fr.

Key losses: F Doug Jones, D Connor Goggin, D Jim Gaudet, F Nick Walsh, G James Mello, G Jody O'Neill, F Paul Lee

Previous KYE installments:
Also like RPI, Dartmouth managed to end their season on a high note by emerging from the first round of the ECAC playoffs, surprising a lot of observers with a sweep at St. Lawrence.

They also had freshmen and sophomores among their top performers, which bodes well for the future. Sikura was the co-leader on the team in points with 25 (along with Jones), while Robinson led the team in goals with 12. Five of the top six scorers on the team were freshmen and sophomores.

Besides having to depend on the less-experienced players for offense, the Big Green were hamstrung by a defense that was frequently fairly porous. Mello and O'Neill, both of whom had stretches in their collegiate careers where they were considered upper echelon ECAC goaltenders, backstopped a defense that was just 47th (out of 58) in the nation at 3.09 goals per game. O'Neill's numbers were close to where they were when he was ECAC Rookie of the Year, but Mello got the majority of the playing time.

Morris, his game-stealing theatrics against the Engineers on national television in January notwithstanding, did little to impress in the limited time that he has seen in the last two seasons. The win over RPI remains his only career ECAC victory. It remains to be seen if Morris is the answer in net for Dartmouth or whether Kruger (from the high-level BCHL) or incoming classmate Charles Grant (who comes in from the rather weak junior league in the Canadian Maritimes) will get opportunities.

Another problem the Big Green had to deal with was the injury to Montreal Canadiens draft pick Dustin Walsh, which limited him to just eight games on the year, the last one being the aforementioned victory over RPI in which the junior notched an assist before being shut down for the year. Walsh led the team in scoring at that point despite missing six games up to that point in the season, and if he could have maintained his points per game average through an entire season, would have been one of the top scorers in the league. His return should be a shot in the arm for Dartmouth as well.

Defense is likely to be the main concern in Hanover this year. While the Big Green have a number of solid scoring threats (especially with Walsh's return), they bring back only three defensemen who saw an appreciable amount of ice time last season and have question marks in net. If they're going to win games this season, they're going to need to come out ahead in the track meets that teams with good offense and rough defense frequently find themselves in.

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