Scouting the enemy: Dartmouth Big Green
Now the meat of the schedule (ECAC play) is upon the Big Green and time to make a big run like last year all the way to Lake Placid. However many things have to fall in place/improve for the Big Green to do so, most notably special team play both PP/PK. This will all start tonight with a big tilt against an oncoming and much improved Princeton team that did some major damage against quality teams in December. With no rest for the weary, the Big Green will play a Quinnipiac team the following night that is going the opposite way. It seems as though they score most of their goals on the PP with their high octane offense so stay out of the box and the Big Green will be in the game if not win it. Good luck and go Big Green!
Scouting the enemy: Dartmouth Big Green
HUGE win for the Big Green to start the New Year in ECAC play over Princeton. This did not look like a Princeton team that registered monster wins in December....or was it that the Big Green just took it to them, probably a combination of both. Wow factor, Graber starts at D; I do not believe he has played D at the upper levels. Either way he did as well as could be expected being put in that situation. He scored two goals, very forward-like. However there are still nuisances in D zone that needs to be ironed-out; he was paired up with Hartley which will help him. Total team effort across the board as that third line of Kilistoff/Warpecha/Mikalowski continue to do well. The second line of Ernsting/Jasiek/Blankenmire looks to have potential. Buffalo was solid if not unspectacular earning the shut out. It looks like he is reading the shooters well and making that net small for them. Hope this carries over to tonight against Q who has been very un-Q like of late giving up a lot of goals and losing.
Quinnipiac ends four game ECAC losing streak with 4-2 win over Dartmouth
This was an uneven effort, Big Green losing to Q! Q was the better team for most of the night. It was a pretty lackluster game with very little flow. It showed that both teams played hard the night before. The first goal given up by the Big Green was a back-breaker as Buffalo let in a short-sided goal late in the first period which kind of set the tone for the rest of the night. Cam Strong continues to bury his chances, his shooting percentage has got to be pretty good. On the other end, Cam Roth on D is playing with much poise and confidence with the puck in the D zone. Big Green just cannot seem to turn the corner against Q and last night would have been the perfect opportunity for a fragile Q team coming in. Let's put this behind and surge forward to more vital ECAC play! Oh by the way, can we please just get one clean entry in in our PP?
The Big Green travels to NY State to play Union and RPI this weekend. Union is one of the better teams in the country far with good scoring and goaltending while RPI has had a down year. It will be very interesting to see the line up for the Big Green, if there are any changes from last week with the major one of Graber moving back to play D. Looks like Michalowski has played himself into a spot on that third line of Kilistoff and Warpecha. While Han has played well with Yau as the top D pairing, the Big Green needs Shoup back to balance the D core out. Yau has played his best with Shoup as his partner. Go BIG GREEN!
Big Green suffers a tough loss last night although they played quite well especially 5 x 5... I think they may have been the better team at even strength but that's rarely how the game plays out as the PP/PK continues to bite them. They gave up three PP goals and one EN last night. The play of the night was a disputable call with the score tied 1-1 and the Big Green on a PP and in the O zone. They refs ended calling a penalty on Yau after a delay as both teams had no idea about the call...even the announcers believed the call was going against Union. After neutralizing the PP, Union scores on the remaining PP time on a mad scramble to the side of the net to make it 2-1. That one play turned the game around as the Big Green had more quality zone time time and scoring chances before the "call". Clark started his first game in net and did well. Graber went back to O and Dimaio was inserted back at D. A big bounce-back game vs RPI, maybe catch them on a high-hangover after beating Harvard. Go get them!
A big bounce back W for the Big Green. With all due respect to RPI, how did they beat Harvard the night before, knowing that the Big Green are not world-beaters themselves. Big Green will take it. This game had very little flow as team possession was limited on both sides. The Big Green did not play their best hockey until the third period. Buffalo was back in net and was solid although if he was another step or two out he probably would have stop RPI's only goal from tough angle. Opperman was huge tonight in probably his best game of the season with both a dirty greasy goal and a high slot snipe. He was also a physical force. They have improved their PP and it looks like they have just been instructed to shoot as long as their is traffic in front of net as Yau put many pucks on net resulting in a tip in by Crema; O zone entry remains an issue with puck-retrieval at the top of the list....now to work on that PK. The overall D was not as noticeable but I guess that's is a good thing given the result. Team O remains to be a concern as the Big Green just do not have that dominant player/line that can "make" plays so goals for and against would be at a premium. Quick turnaround...let's get Harvard on Tuesday night!
Its game day yes on a Tuesday - Big Green vs Crimson! It's a huge game on many fronts: proximity travel partner bragging rights, ECAC game, for the Big Green (establish consistency and a huge W against a great Harvard team) for Harvard ( get back to their high level ), etc. Big Green have not fared well against the Crimson and this would be a great gauge and statement. Go BIG GREEN!
A BIG Big Green win last night against Harvard. If you would have told me the Big Green would put up an 8 spot (albeit two EN) I would have said yeah and they would win the NCAA Championship. Those 8 goals are three games worth for the Big Green who has had trouble scoring. It was a very strange game the Big Green had the play early on only to have one slapper missing wide of the net and wrapping all the way around and leading to 1 on 1 situation which Harvard and scored on a breakaway. Then not more than a minute later the puck hits off a Big Green's D-men skate and goals in. All the sudden it 2-0 and game turned upside down. Then Crema scores a nice goal with speed to end the first down 2-1 Then all hell broke loose in the second as the both goalie's had trouble picking up the puck on shots on goal. Too many players to list who joined in on the goal parade. However, it was still a tight with the Big Green holding on in a prevent defense of puck-in and forwards back. In the end, two EN sealed the game. It is my hope that this propels the Big Green with confidence moving forward in the heart of the ECAC schedule where every game is a 4-pointer. Dont get comfortable Big Green and continue to improve!
A couple of other thoughts about last night's game vs Harvard. While Buffalo has been a stud for most of the season Clark has proven that he deserves more of a role as back-up instead of mop-up duty after Buffalo gets pulled. In the one game Clark did start he did OK vs Union. Also it looks like about 10 of the forward spots are set for the most part and 5 of the D. Additionally, I believe it is more than sheer coincidence that the overall team offense has picked-up lately due to the D men being more involved whether its activation or forwards going low to high with passes in the O zone leading to shots on goal and/or more dangerous passing opportunities to the forwards in the O zone
A another huge weekend among all weekends forthcoming...with this on the heels of a humongous victory over Harvard earlier in the week! Will this propel the Big Green or will they have tired legs or get overconfident? My bet is jet propulsion forward! Yale is not having a Yale-like season thus far so this is a perfect opportunity to cash in while Brown is struggling again so these are both winnable games. Go BIG GREEN!
Now the good news: this is the beauty of it all; in less than 24 short hours they can make amends and get back to their winning ways against Brown. This is where that focus and discipline and in this case short-term memory comes in. Leadership is critical here. Here's my Nostradamus headline for Sunday morning: The Big Green Rebounds in a Big Way vs Brown!
It was both a disappointing and bad loss last night to Brown. Disappointing from the standpoint from a rebound performance after getting spanked by Yale the night before and bad from the standpoint of dominating the first period and leading 2-0 at home (Brown couldn't get out of their zone and when they did very little O zone time). But that's why you play 60 minutes and in this case more in OT. However, everything changed in the second period as Brown dominated to tie it up. Did the Big Green get too comfortable, expend too much energy in the first, or Brown finally got their skating legs and act together....probably a combination of all three. Brown did a very good job of blocking shots from up top but also caving in as well; pucks just did not go through and when they did Nieto either made a nice save or the puck went harmlessly wide or over the net. Crema and Kalk continue to be dangerous together as they were along with Hartley and Yau were responsible with good puck movement with an extra attacker to tie the game late and send it into to OT. On the Brown's winning goal in OT, Graber (admirably filling in on D) stepped up and got beat leading to a loose puck stretch 2 on 1. Hartley comes all the way over to the boards instead of staying home. Put gets passed/centered leading to not only one but two chances the same player to bury it and win the game. Game over and let's re-group and head to NY state next weekend.
Big Green travels to NY state this weekend vs Colgate/Cornell. They are coming off a downer in losing two last weekend, one they were horrible against Yale while a bad period and a half against Brown did them in. Which Big Green team will we see as they have failed to establish consistency in overall play? The games vs Colgate has always been tight with either a one goal differential or an added EN. Cornell comes in as arguably the hottest team in the league with their trademark style of play giving the opponents fits with their big bodies and board play, coupled with stifling D and goaltending. Go BIG GREEN!!!!!
I know this sounds like a broken record, cause it is...another excruciating defeat! This was a very evenly matched games with not much flow. Very simply put, the difference in the game was Finn for Colgate...that save on Michalowski coming out of the box was just plain ridiculous; would be open net to high blocker save going left to his right. WOW! There is no doubt in my mind that if that was a goal then the Big Green comes back and win the game after starting off slow. After a wrister goal by Neily (welcome back) on a great draw from Ernsting, the Big Green controlled the play as they got their skating legs and confidence back. Again, the Big Green gives up a PP goal (early in the game) on a slapper from the mid point that must of had eyes. There's the difference; Big Green had those very same opportunities but either they were saved, blocked, or missed the net, although some of those were tippable as I believe that was their objective. Call it puck luck or whatever! Missing Hesler and Kalk certainly hurt but all teams have guys missing. Nobody stepped up although Shoup IMHO was the best player/skater on the ice last night (save for Finn). With a depleted D core, Graber was back on D paired with Hartley. Once everyone is healthy, I expect a major improvement in both the offense and team D (getting Yau and Shoup back together would help immensely but I understand the delicate balance for now). Now to Cornell who should be fighting mad after losing to Harvard. It has always been low-scoring between these two and I would expect no differently. Get back on that horse!
Well that broken record now has been revitalized...great improbable comeback victory, down 2-0 early against a solid Cornell team. And guess what led to the comeback, PP goals, all three of them plus a EN at the end, nothing fancy just pucks on the net with traffic. After not capitalizing on the early PP's with the Hartley/Graber and Kilistoff line who had extended zone time but few shots attempted, more around the world passing. Finally the unit of Yau/Roth with the line of Crema, Jasiek, and Blankenmier were responsible for all three of the PP goals; they seemed to work it more on the half board rather than up top, and also more on a zone entry than setting up. Either way it worked! Now I must say the call on Cornell in the neutral zone was sketchy at best leading to a 5 on 4 then subsequently and 5 on 3 which was a definite call. Regardless the calls were made and we are not giving the goals back. This call reminded me of the Union game where Yau gets called for a holding penalty while on the PP...that it definitely swung the game. Of interesting note, the freshmen class might have hit the "proverbial wall" as they are no where nearly as effective as they were earlier in the season but that's OK as the effort is still there as they hopefully learn from this. As they say, "It's a GRIND!" Although I will say Blankenmier looks good as he recovered from injury. Buffalo looked solid as his angles and coming out of the crease to take on the shooter looks positive and confident. Get em BIG GREEN!
Nice updates, it is good to keep tabs on the other ECAC teams.
2013 National Champions
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