Did You Know: The Clarkson Hockey program has amassed 10,001 goals since the 1920-21 season?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

ECAC(HL) Men's Semi-Final Preview - Part 1

Our first preview takes a look at the all Ivy match-up between the league co-champion Dartmouth Big Green and the Harvard Crimson. Dartmouth is vying for their first tournament championship ever, while Harvard is looking to take it's 3rd league title in the past 5 years.

Why Dartmouth will win:
The Big Green come into Albany riding a hot streak that is unmatched by any of the remaining teams. Dartmouth has gone an impressive 12-3-2 in 2006 and has won their last five games. In those past five games they have allowed only four goals and have scored nineteen. ECAC player of the year candidate Mike Ouellette had two goals and two assists in a two game sweep of Yale last weekend and his line was responsible for four of the teams eight goals on the weekend. Dartmouth will look to keep the offense rolling against Harvard.

On defense the Big Green are lead by Sean Offers and Ben Lovejoy, however all three pairs are solid on the blue line and will give the Crimson all that they can handle. Offensively Lovejoy and Grant Lewis will chip in. The biggest factor in Dartmouth's run has been the play of Mike Devine. Devine has racked up 17-7-2 record and has put up a 2.16 GAA and a .921 save percentage, both good enough for second in the league. Devine is the backbone of the defense and Dartmouth will look to ride his strong play to the championship game.

These two teams have not seen each other in a long time and many things have changed since the regular season match-ups. The two met in the first game of the season in a 6-2 Harvard win, however Dartmouth turned the tables in the return engagement in December with a dominating performance in a 5-1 win. Since that game Dartmouth has only gotten stronger while Harvard, has won enough games to be safe for NCAA play, has yet to find an identity and will have their hands full with this talented Big Green squad.

Why Harvard will win:
Harvard is in the best shape of the 4 remaining ECAC teams to receive and at large bid to the NCAA tournament. However do not think that Ted Donato's club will be slacking off. Harvard knows two wins on the weekend will most likely give the Crimson a two seed and possibly a number one, depending on other results. The Crimson will also be looking to take three league championships in five years and establish themselves as the league's premier team of the decade.

Harvard comes into the semi-finals featuring a balanced offensive attack which while not the most potent in the league can still bear it's teeth as shown in a 8-4 drubbing of St. Lawrence on Sunday night. Harvard is lead by junior Kevin Du who has scored eight goals and added twenty-nine assists for the crimson. There biggest goal scoring threat comes from senior Dan Murphy who has scored 16 goals on the season including four game winners. Du and Murphy are not the only threats on offense however, Jon Pelle and Dave Watters are talented sophomores and on the blue line Tom Walsh and Dylan Reese contribute regularly.

Speaking of the blue line, again Harvard is not a league leader, but they are steady enough to win games. This theme of consistent, not flashy, play is best defined by goaltender John Daigneau. The senior has spent most of his time at Harvard backing up Dov Grumet-Morris but in his first real chance to prove his talents he has posted a 17-9-2 record and has put up a .913 save percentage and a 2.44 GAA. Again, not flashy numbers, but consistent enough to put Harvard in contention every night.

Dartmouth is the fast skating, offensive minded team riding a hot streak, Harvard is the steady as they go, score when they need too, consistent team that can stop them. Harvard needs to try and set the tempo early and not allow the big line of Dartmouth to score first. This will be a very close game as both teams will be looking to find the other's fatal flaw. I expect a back and forth game with a couple lead changes but in the end I expect Dartmouth to pull it out.

Dartmouth 4 - Harvard 3


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