Dartmouth hockey working to rebuild ‘culture'

Members of the Dartmouth men's hockey team celebrate their 3-2 win over UVM before a sold-out crowd of 3,335 at Thompson Arena in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 6, 2024. (Dartmouth Athletics - Nick Romei)

Members of the Dartmouth men's hockey team celebrate their 3-2 win over UVM before a sold-out crowd of 3,335 at Thompson Arena in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 6, 2024. (Dartmouth Athletics - Nick Romei) Dartmouth Athletics photographs — Nick Romei

Dartmouth's Ian Pierce skates ahead of a UVM defender during their game in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 6, 2024. Pierce scored two goals in the 3-2 win, his first time finding the net this season. (Dartmouth Athletics - Nick Romei)

Dartmouth's Ian Pierce skates ahead of a UVM defender during their game in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 6, 2024. Pierce scored two goals in the 3-2 win, his first time finding the net this season. (Dartmouth Athletics - Nick Romei)

Dartmouth's Nikita Nikora moves the puck up ice against UVM during their game on Jan. 6, 2024, in Hanover, N.H. Dartmouth won, 3-2. (Dartmouth Athletics - Nick Romei)

Dartmouth's Nikita Nikora moves the puck up ice against UVM during their game on Jan. 6, 2024, in Hanover, N.H. Dartmouth won, 3-2. (Dartmouth Athletics - Nick Romei)

By BEN HOOKE

For the Valley News

Published: 01-08-2024 4:29 AM

Modified: 01-09-2024 8:45 AM


HANOVER — The last few seasons have not been kind to the Dartmouth men’s hockey program. After pandemic disruptions and middling results, the Big Green appeared to bottom out last season, winning just 5 of 30 games and finishing in the basement of the ECAC conference.

 

If there are reasons for belief, though, a game like Saturday night’s 4-3 win over visiting Vermont could certainly be one. In front of a sellout crowd, aided by Catamount faithful, the Big Green scored twice in the third period to secure the victory.

 

“Really proud of where we’re at, where our growth is…there’s a culture forming here. It’s fun to come to work every day” said Dartmouth coach Reid Cashman post-game.

The teams were deadlocked at 2-2 entering the third period as UVM killed off a late Dartmouth power play.

 

Dartmouth broke through for good six minutes into the period. Defenseman Matt Fusco beat two defenders with some high-speed stickhandling before firing a backhanded shot on net that drew a weak save from the UVM netminder and was poked home by Alex Krause for the go-ahead goal.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Hartford man held without bail following weekend standoff and shelter-in-place advisory
Lebanon employers seek to meet workers’ child care needs
Vermont Supreme Court to hear Tunbridge trails case
Bookstock literary festival grew too big to manage
Woodstock’s first Pride brings community together
Man gets DUI at Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery

 

After two periods of counter punches, the Catamounts failed to muster one, instead giving up a power play that Dartmouth used to slam the door.

A missed rotation left Ian Pierce wide open just inside the blueline for a slapshot that found its way into the net to for what would turn out to be the game-winner.

The large crowd, at rarity at Thompson Arena in recent years, did its best to buoy the Big Green and preserve the win. Every blocked shot, save and upended Catamount player brought increasingly louder cheers from the assembled fans.

“When Thompson (Arena) is full, it’s as good as any place in the country,” said Cashman. “It was an awesome atmosphere especially with a longtime rival.”

Dartmouth killed off a subsequent UVM power play, but shortly after the Catamounts halved the deficit.

Andrei Buyalsky got position on his defender entering from the left side and fooled Cooper Black with a nice move to net from close range to set up a furious final five minutes.

Vermont had one final chance, earning a faceoff in the Dartmouth zone with a few ticks on the clock, but the won the draw and successfully ran out the clock on a 4-3 win.

The Big Green (4-4-6, 2-1-4) has only ECAC games remaining on the schedule and sits ninth in the conference standings. Of the four conference games that have ended regulation tied, one came against league leaders Quinnipiac, the only blemish on the reigning national champs league record.

“We’re winning games, but we’ve also only lost four times. We’re a tough team to beat, and that’s important too,” said Cashman.

Two of the Big Green’s three nonconference losses came against nationally Maine and New Hampshire.

Dartmouth started Saturday’s game penned in its own end by an aggressive UVM forecheck. Nonetheless, Dartmouth found the game’s opener six minutes in via their captain, Sean Chisholm.

The junior combined neatly with freshman winger Nikita Nokora and found a pocket of space just inside the left circle, making no mistake with a hard one-timer that whistled past Gabe Carriere to the top corner.

Just as the momentum seemed headed Dartmouth’s way, UVM had an answer 58 seconds later. Jens Richards seized on a deflected puck at the Dartmouth end and scored from a narrow angle a wrist shot to equalize.

 

After the initial flurry, both sides found chances hard to come by as the physicality and pace of the game made sustained zone time a rarity. Vermont (9-8-1, 3-4-1) earned a power play when Dartmouth’s Steven Townley was sent to the box for tripping, but effective goaltending and a number of blocked shots from the Big Green successfully killed off the penalty.

 

Nearly eight minutes into the second period, Ian Pierce threw a shot on net in an odd-man rush, found the rebound kicked back to him on the other side of the net, and quickly swiveled his hips to deliver a hard forehand shot that snuck over the leg pad of Carriere and into the netting for a Dartmouth goal.

 

But once again, the Dartmouth joy was short-lived. 90 seconds later, Andrei Buyalsky ripped a shot on net that Big Green netminder Cooper Black could only parry into the scrum in front of the net where Isak Walther was waiting.

The burly swede outmuscled two Dartmouth defenders to poke home a the equalizer.

Dartmouth return to action on a two-game road trip to Yale and Brown this weekend.