Weekend Preview: Harvard and Dartmouth

On the road for the second straight week, the Saints head to Harvard and Dartmouth to face two teams who are in desperate need of ECAC points to stay even remotely relevant in the playoff discussion. Clarkson and St. Lawrence have put some space between themselves and the rest of the ECAC field, with third place Cornell four points away from the Saints and six from the Golden Knights, but collecting four points on the road is still important for SLU. 

It’s been a long fall for the Crimson, the Saints opponent on Friday night. Harvard hasn’t finished a season sub-.500 since 1997-98, but with a 3-16-3 record this season, they are on pace for the worst winning percentage in program history. Two years removed from a runner-up finish in the NCAA tournament, Harvard has the 8th ranked offense and 9th ranked defense in the ECAC, and the tenth worst penalty kill. Emerance Maschmeyer is no longer between the pipes, and the Crimson are feeling the loss, allowing 2.73 goals per game. 

The defense hasn’t been spectacular, but it’s the offense that has let Harvard down. They’re led in scoring by Sydney Daniels and Lexie Laing, each who have 12 points on the season, while rookie Kat Hughes has 11. There is little scoring to go around the rest of the lineup, hence, the Crimson find the back of the net less than twice a game. They’ve been shutout four times this year and have only once recorded more than three goals in a game; in the first game of the season, a 5-1 win over Dartmouth, the Saints’ opponent on Saturday. They have an overall -1.2 goal differential and are brutal at home, with a 1-8-1 record. 

The only three wins that Harvard has recorded this year have come in games where they hold their opponent to a single goal. The Crimson also have not won a game when trailing after the first or second periods, which basically means that a two-goal first period all but guarantees the Saints a win. The Saints have a 30-5 edge in goals scored in the first period, compared to a 6-13 deficit for Harvard, and have not lost when leading after the first period, and are 16-0-1 when leading after two periods. 

The Saints got a hat trick from Kennedy Marchment and a shutout (obviously) from Grace Harrison in a 4-0 win at home in the first matchup of the season. Marchment’s first goal came just 25 seconds into the game, and Alex Moore capped off a two-goal first period to help the Saints win easy. A similar outing should secure two points for SLU. 

Dartmouth is one of three teams that’s found a way to be below Harvard in the standings. They’re tied with Brown, owners of just 6 league points, which is still better than basement dweller Union (3 points). The highlight of the season came when the Big Green defeated Princeton 3-2 in overtime in November, but it’s been a tough slog for Dartmouth throughout 2016-17. 

They do have a better record than Harvard, at 5-17-0, but a worse ECAC mark puts them firmly out of the discussion for the playoffs unless they win out. Unfortunately for the Big Green, scoring just 1.18 goals per game and allowing 2.73 per game is not a recipe for a whole lot of wins.  

Kennedy Ottenbreit leads the way offensively with 11 points in 22 games, followed by Eleni Tebano, with 10, but no one else for the Big Green is in double digits. Robyn Chemago and Christie Honor have done a respectable job in net, but it hasn’t been enough to keep Dartmouth in games, especially because the offense is completely stagnant. 

They’ve lost seven games by three or more goals, while only managing to score three or more goals twice all season. That offensive explosion came in back-to-back wins against Colgate and Maine in November. 

The Saints only needed two goals to beat Dartmouth at Appleton, thanks to yet another Grace Harrison shutout. Marchment and Kayla Vespa had the goals for the Saints, who outshot the Big Green 30-15. 

Much like the game against Harvard, leading after the first period should pretty much be the nail in the coffin of the Big Green. A quick start will put Dartmouth in a hole, something they have shown they can’t dig out of, so the Saints can quickly turn their attention to Princeton and Quinnipiac, who visit Appleton for the final regular season contests of the year on home ice for SLU.