Who: Dartmouth (3-8), Holy Cross (4-9-4), No. 14 Massachusetts-Lowell (10-6-1), Northeastern (6-8-1)
When: Saturday, Jan. 2 and Sunday, Jan. 3
Where: Thompson Arena, Hanover, N.H.
Tickets: Click here (new window)
Saturday’s games: Holy Cross vs. Massachusetts-Lowell, 4 p.m. Eastern; Dartmouth vs. Northeastern, 7 p.m.
Sunday’s games: Semifinal losers, 4 p.m. Eastern; semifinal winners, 7 p.m.
The Big Green couldn’t buy a bounce, much less a win, in its first month on the ice, but bounced back with three straight league wins to reaffirm its status as a dangerous team in the wake of last year’s surprisingly solid campaign.
Consecutive losses against Sacred Heart and Vermont have cast the Green in a shadow once more, as the team clearly struggles with consistency in effort and execution from night to night. Sophomore goaltender Jody O’Neill (3.45 goals-against average, .904 save percentage) took a while to find his game, and now his challenge is to show up regularly to bail out his equally young teammates.
Junior Adam Estoclet was predicted to be Dartmouth’s most productive scorer at the onset of the year, and while he hasn’t disappointed with 10 points in nine games so far, it’s classmate Scott Fleming who leads the team in goals (seven) and points (17). Another junior, Evan Stephens, has racked up six points as a defenseman, and freshman Dustin Walsh leads his class with four goals and six points.
About Holy Cross
Holy Cross comes into the tournament with just one win in its last 10 games. However, the Crusaders have had some good outings during that stretch, including ties with Quinnipiac, Air Force and RIT.
One thing that is working well for the Crusaders is their power play — six of Holy Cross’ last seven goals have been with the man advantage. Overall, Holy Cross is clicking on a third of its chances over the past four games.
It’s good that the power play has been working, because overall, the Crusaders have trouble scoring goals, averaging just over two a game. Junior Everett Sheen leads the way with eight goals, while Jordan Cyr, Brodie Sheahan and Jay Silvia have five each.
A bright spot for coach Paul Pearl has been the play of freshman goaltender Thomas Tysowsky. The rookie’s 2.20 GAA is first in Atlantic Hockey and 15th nationally.
Though ranked nationally throughout the entire first half of the season, the River Hawks may consider their play to date as somewhat disappointing. Lowell was cruising along at 8-2-1 leading up to Thanksgiving week, but scored two goals or less in four of the final six games before break, losing three straight league games to Providence, Maine and New Hampshire and dropping a non-league contest to Princeton leading into the break.
Lowell will lock horns with Holy Cross in the opening round, hoping to earn a victory and a championship game battle against either league foe Northeastern or host Dartmouth.
The River Hawks are looking to get an offensive boost in the second half, starting at Dartmouth. Defenseman Maury Edwards is one player the River Hawks need production from, as the team’s top scoring defenseman a season ago has just nine points and two goals this season.
The Huskies hope to use the tournament to catapult the club back to the top of the national picture. A year ago, Northeastern sat at 11-3-2 en route to an NCAA tournament bid. But a year later, graduations and early departures — not to mention injuries — see the Huskies posting a paltry 6-8-1 record.
The team’s high note — a 5-2-0 mark at home this season — won’t be much use when it travels to Dartmouth to face the hosts in the opening round of the tournament. Northeastern has a single road win, a 4-3 non-league decision at Colorado College in the opening weekend of the season.
If the Huskies are to come away from Hanover with the title, they’ll need two solid performances in net from rookie Chris Rawlings, who’s seen growing pains over the opening half of the season, posting a 3.11 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.