Dartmouth forward Drew O’Connor brought Friday’s game against Princeton to a quick end with a goal 61 seconds into overtime.
While it’s been a little longer journey for Big Green coach Bob Gaudet, at times it’s felt just as fast as O’Connor’s game-winning goal.
Friday was the 1,000th career game for Gaudet, who is in his 23rd season at Dartmouth after spending nine seasons at Brown.
“I can’t believe it; it seems like the blink of an eye and 1,000 games,” Gaudet said.
Gaudet is the seventh coach in NCAA hockey history to reach 1,000 games coached in one conference and is the first ECAC Hockey coach to do so.
“I’ve been really blessed in this game,” Gaudet said. “I have to thank my folks for starting me in this game and allowing me to play. To have the passion for hockey that is instilled in you as a young kid and to still have it I think is pretty neat.”
Gaudet has long-standing ties to Dartmouth and ECAC Hockey. He played goalie for the Big Green from 1977 to 1981 and was an assistant from 1983 to 1987 before taking the head coaching job at Brown.
He met his wife Lynne at Dartmouth and each of the couple’s three children attended Dartmouth. Sons Joe and Jim played for their father, while daughter Kelly graduated in 2017.
“I’ve been fortunate, and I owe Dartmouth an awful lot,” Gaudet said. “I came out of public high school in Saugus, Massachusetts and [I think about] the doors it opened for me. The game of hockey got me into school. I love the game, I love the school, and it’s a great business.”
Gaudet also credited Brown for giving him his first head coaching job when he was still in his twenties. While with the Bears, he coached current Brown head coach Brendan Whittet, who served as an assistant for Gaudet at Brown and Dartmouth prior to taking his current position.
Friday’s game was just one of several recent milestones for Gaudet, who became the winningest coach in Dartmouth hockey history with his 309th career victory with a win over Cornell on Nov. 30, 2018. He also became the 23rd Division 1 coach in history to win his 400th career game when the Big Green beat Quinnipiac on Nov. 3, 2018.
While the numbers are impressive, working his players has been what has stood out to Gaudet over his career.
“You talk about being in it this long,” he said. “To stay passionate, these kids are really fun to work with. I have my 40th reunion coming up next spring with the teams that I played on. We’re really close and I just hope that these kids have that same experience and that same feeling for each other that we did when I played.”
Gaudet is just one of several league coaches who have lengthy careers in ECAC Hockey. Colgate’s Don Vaughan has coached 981 games with the Raiders, while Cornell’s Mike Schafer has been with the Big Red for 825 games.
“There are a lot of really good guys in this business,” Gaudet said. “I think it speaks well for the conference [because of] the longevity of the coaches, because it’s a tough business. I’ve been fortunate and maybe I can pull the wool over their eyes for a little more.”
A historic sweep for RPI
Last weekend’s road sweep of Clarkson and St. Lawrence was more than just an important four points for Rensselaer — it was a bit of history of well.
The two wins were just the fifth time in program history that the Engineers had swept a North Country road trip, with the last sweep coming in 2013.
RPI beat then-No.4 Clarkson 3-1 Friday and rode Owen Savory’s first shutout of the season to a 3-0 win at St. Lawrence Saturday.
“I think a lot of the guys are aware of some history here, but that’s one thing we weren’t aware of,” Savory said of getting the North Country sweep. “I think we sang our song a little bit louder in the locker room. This is a good start to the New Year for us. We know we can play with these top teams, like you saw in Clarkson and again [Saturday] we know how to close out games. We’re maturing as a hockey team, which is awesome.”
Lessons learned in Vegas don’t stay in Vegas
In-season tournaments can be hit or miss in terms of the quality of competition. But Cornell got a chance to test itself against several of the nation’s top teams last weekend in the Fortress Invitational in Las Vegas.
The Big Red beat then- No. 6 Ohio State Friday and then tied then- No.14 Providence in the tournament championship game Saturday. The Friars, who ended Cornell’s season in the NCAA East regional final last season, won the tournament in a shootout after the teams played scoreless five-on-five and three-on-three overtime sessions, respectively.
“Two hard opponents to play against. It’s just great preparation for the second half,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer told CornellBigRed.com.
Even if the Big Red didn’t come home with a tournament win, playing two NCAA-caliber teams at an unfamiliar location is a good way to open up the second half.
Cornell travels to RPI and Union this weekend, and then will play nine of its remaining 14 games at home.
“At the end (of this tournament), to be 11-1-1 is absolutely huge for our hockey team and for our program,” Schaefer said. “Like I said before, when we finish next weekend we’ll have played 12 of our first 16 on the road. That ability to continue to get the job done (is big), because we haven’t been home in a long, long time.”
A 2-1 win over Massachusetts on Nov. 30 was an encouraging end to what was mostly a disappointing first half for Quinnipiac.
The Bobcats had nearly a month off before returning to action Dec. 28 against Princeton. But Quinnipiac hasn’t slowed at all, winning all four of its game to start the second half, including a home sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend.
“We played well both nights [against Massachusetts] and then we take four weeks off,” Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold said. “Princeton played really well and at times we played great and at times we struggled. But I thought this weekend was a much better effort for us. We had our honesty, we had our identity, and the guys were really buying in. One of the best moments of [Saturday] night was when [senior assistant captain Alex] Whelan negated an icing. He just took over from 180 feet and beat the kid.
“Little things like that can mean a lot in the game of hockey.”
Those little things have translated into better results on offense, as Quinnipiac has scored 18 goals in four games since the holiday break after scoring 33 times in 15 first-half games. That, coupled with improved play from goalie Keith Petruzzelli, has the Bobcats on the upswing as conference play intensifies.
“After last weekend, we knew it wasn’t good enough,” Whelan said. “Every game is really important in the PairWise and the ECAC. I think we all just really wanted these games and we played that way.”