January 4, 2011

Women's Journal: Dartmouth gets jump on New Year's

Dartmouth's leading scorer, Sasha Nanji, tallied twice on New Year's Day. (photo: Dartmouth Athletic Communications)

Ending a losing streak is rarely as easy as flipping a page on the calendar.

Dartmouth just made it look that way last weekend.

The Big Green, who were chased into their Christmas break by a four-game losing streak — including an impotent last three games that saw them manage just four goals — found their game at both ends of the ice in 9-2 and 5-0 wins over Connecticut.

“I thought we had a lot of jump,” Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak said. “We seemed to do a lot of things better than I expected after not playing for a month.”

The Big Green now stand 8-5-0 (5-3-0 ECAC Hockey) and — like just about everyone else in the league outside of runaway frontrunner Cornell — have visions of finishing second if things can come together in the second half.

After going 19 days without playing a game, Dartmouth pumped in nine goals on New Year’s Day, including two apiece from Sasha Nanji, the team’s points leader with 10-6-16, and Amanda Trunzo, who also had two assists.

One day later, the defense permitted just 16 shots on freshman goalie Lindsay Holdcroft in a 5-0 shutout win. Jenna Hobeika had two goals and two assists, and Kelly Foley (Boston, Mass.) opened the scoring and added two assists.

Of course, scoring didn’t figure to be a problem for Dartmouth heading into the season. Preventing goals, maybe, but not scoring them. Through 13 games, only Cornell among ECAC Hockey teams is averaging more than the Green’s 3.54 a game.

But Hudak also likes the way his defense is developing. The freshman- and sophomore-dominated blue line of a year ago is now sophomores and juniors, and though neither Holdcroft (2.50 goals-against average, .871 save percentage) nor sophomore Whitney Woodcox (2.41, .871) have posted strong numbers, there’s reason for optimism.

“We’ve been really happy with what we’ve seen in the progression with them,” Hudak said. “Early in the year we were letting in some soft goals, and we haven’t done that as much lately.”

Is it enough for Dartmouth to make a run at its first NCAA bid since 2007-08, or the No. 2 spot in the standings? We’ll see in the weeks ahead, as the Green play two league games in each of the next seven weekends.

“Cornell is certainly out ahead of the pack here,” Hudak said. “Now that we’re getting back into the meat of our league schedule, it’s really going to be interesting to see who’s going to be in those 2, 3 and 4 spots.”

NEHJ Player of the Week

Kelci Lanthier, soph., Vermont

Lanthier earned her first two collegiate wins in the Catamounts’ sweep of Union, stopping 52 of the 54 shots she saw (.963 save percentage) to backstop wins by scores of 2-1 and 3-1. Vermont is on a three-game win streak.

Looking Ahead

Providence at Boston University, Sunday

It’s the first real test of the new year for the third-ranked Terriers (15-2-3, 5-1-3 HE), who will be without forward Jenelle Kohanchuk and defenseman Tara Watchorn, who are playing with Canada’s Under-22 team at the MLP Cup in Switzerland.

No. 9 Providence (14-6-1, 5-3-1 HE) tied BU, 2-2, earlier this season, but will be missing top goaltender Genevieve Lacasse.

Around Hockey East

Boston College bounced back from a 3-0 loss to Princeton on New Year’s Eve to beat Yale Monday, 3-1, with Kelli Stack setting up a pair of goals. The Eagles had been shorthanded against Princeton, with five players attending USA Hockey’s holiday camp in Blaine, Minn. …

With Lacasse playing for the Canadian Under-22s, senior Christina England (Wareham, Mass.) stepped in and made 12 saves in a 2-1 win over Maine for her first collegiate victory. Maine turned the tables on the Friars a day later with a 3-2 win. Kayla Kaluzny, Brittany Dougherty and Jennie Gallo scored for the Black Bears. …

BU freshman Marie-Philip Poulin extended her point streak to six games, notching a goal and two assists in a 4-0 win over Brown. In those six games, Poulin has five goals and seven assists. …

Northeastern goalie Florence Schelling made a season-high 39 saves in a 2-1 win over host St. Cloud State Sunday in the consolation game of the Easton Holiday Showcase.

Around ECAC Hockey

Not even a 20-day layoff could cool off Princeton, which blanked both Boston College (3-0) and Quinnipiac (3-0) to extend its win streak to five games. Against BC, Corey Stearns (Falmouth, Mass.) set up Julie Johnson midway through the first period and the Tigers never looked back. Against Quinnipiac, Danielle DiCesare (York, Maine) was among the goal scorers. Goalie Rachel Weber stopped all 43 shots she faced on the weekend and now has shut out three straight opponents. …

Yale goalie Jackie Snikeris stopped 49 shots, but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs fell 3-1 to BC on Monday. The Eagles held a 52-18 edge in shots.

Mike Zhe can be reached at mzhe@hockeyjournal.com