Ivy League Showdown
No. 1 Dartmouth will take on its two toughest Ivy League opponents this weekend as the Big Green (19-1-1) travels to No. 6 Harvard (16-7-0) and No. 4 Brown (14-3-3). Dartmouth edged out the Crimson, 5-4, and the Bears, 3-2, with one-goal victories in Hanover back in November.
“The Dartmouth-Harvard-Brown rivalry has been intense over the past several years and I expect the same this weekend,” said Dartmouth coach Judy Parish Oberting. “I am sure that all three teams will be ready to compete and you can expect to see some extremely competitive, exciting games.”
Dartmouth is coming off a victory at No. 7 Wisconsin (15-6-5) in its only Midwestern road trip of the regular season — though the Big Green certainly has aspirations to be in Minnesota for the inaugural NCAA Tournament in March.
Goaltenders Amy Ferguson and Meaghan Cahill split time between the pipes for Dartmouth, contributing nine saves each to the winning cause. The Big Green broke from tradition on the other end of the ice, where center Kristin King actually netted a hat trick instead of contributing her usually consistent one goal, one assist performance. Two of King’s goals were unassisted.
“Kinger had a great game against Wisconsin,” Oberting said. “She took advantage of the scoring opportunities that she had and really stepped up in a game where we needed her. Kristin has been very good for us all year. In some games it shows up on the stat sheet, but for other games, you have to be there to understand how important she is to making this team go.”
Brown is just as hot as Dartmouth. The Bears are currently riding an 11-game unbeaten streak which includes victories over three ranked opponents as well as a tie against No. 5 St. Lawrence (17-5-3). Brown has not lost at home since Nov. 29.
Brown has continued its tradition of strong defense and goaltending. The Bears are the only ECAC team that allows fewer goals per game (1.60) than Dartmouth (1.81). Sophomore netminder Pam Dreyer leads the conference in save percentage (.950) and is second only to Cahill with a 1.33 GAA. Offensively, Brown is led by a pair of senior forwards in Kathleen Kauth (11g, 15a) and Christina Sorbara (7g, 15a).
Harvard certainly scores more goals than does Brown (the Crimson is second to Dartmouth in goals per game at 4.39), but it has struggled of late. On Tuesday the Crimson rallied to erase a two-goal deficit in the third period and beat No. 9 Northeastern (13-10-1) in the Beanpot championship game. It was the third straight season in which Harvard center Jennifer Botterill has scored the Beanpot-winner in overtime.
Botterill (31g, 23a) leads the ECAC in scoring, followed by linemate Tammy Shewchuk (16g, 32a). But Harvard could only muster one goal (from Shewchuk) on Sunday at Princeton, where the Crimson fell to the Tigers, 3-1. Sophomore goaltender Sarah Ahlquist stopped 29 shots for Princeton as her teammates held Harvard to just six shots in the final period.
“Sarah had a strong game, nothing flashy, just solid,” said Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal. “The win was especially important to her personally because Harvard took it to her twice last season. The win was a confidence-builder for her and our team. We have gotten very good goaltending all year. I am happy with both Sarah and Megan Van Beusekom, who has been standing on her head lately, as well.”
The Tigers travel to Niagara for a two-game series with the Eagles this weekend. With two wins, Princeton could jump past Niagara into the eighth and final playoff spot as the postseason closes in. To do that, Princeton will need to play like it did against Harvard, a game in which three different players (Melissa Deland, Jessica Fedderly and Andrea Kilbourne) scored for the Tigers.
“We get tired of hearing ‘Kilbourne this, Kilbourne that,’ Kampersal said. “Killer is our captain and our heart and soul and our Patty Kazmaier. She deserves the recognition she gets, but it fuels the other kids to pick up their game up to her level. The win against Harvard was nice, be we realize we are in ninth place with a long way to go to earn a playoff spot. If players like Jess Fedderly, Melissa Deland, and Lucy Firestone continue to scrap the way they do, then that takes pressure off of Killer.”
Around the WCHA
Ohio State suffered a pair of tough losses at No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth (21-4-3) last weekend, falling to the Bulldogs in overtime on Friday, 7-6, before dropping Saturday’s game, 7-5. Joanne Eustace scored four goals for UMD on Friday, including the equalizer with 2:20 left in regulation (for the hat trick) and the game-winner just 38 seconds into the extra period.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Buckeyes as they host No. 3 Minnesota (20-5-1) for two games. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs face another young and scrappy team, St. Cloud State, in an intrastate matchup.