The University of Connecticut men’s hockey team won 4-1 over Dartmouth College on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Thompson Arena in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Head coach Mike Cavanaugh has emphasized before how hockey is a 60-minute sport, but it was really in the final 20 minutes when both teams played with a sense of urgency to score — one team more than the other, however.
“I thought we played a really complete game looking at the final box,” said Cavanaugh after the win.
A complete game they played indeed.
UConn senior forward Carter Turnbull came out onto the ice for the final period determined and scored in just under the first minute to score his first goal of the season. Coming off of an assist from senior defenseman Ryan Wheeler, Turnbull slammed a wrist shot for the first goal of the night and UConn had the lead.
A little over three minutes later, Dartmouth’s sophomore forward Joe Musa attempted to answer with a goal, but this would be Big Green’s only goal and it wouldn’t be enough.
“We got that goal and then they made it 1-1, and earlier in the year, we shrank when a team did something like that, but we still kept our foot on the gas.”
Of course, this was in reference to the first night of the two-game series against Ohio State University, when the Huskies were up with a 3-0 lead in the second period. Once the Buckeyes scored, the Huskies did in fact shrink and gave up three goals as Ohio State pushed the game to overtime where they would win.
The next day, UConn would remain shrunk and wouldn’t score at all, losing 0-3 and going back to Storrs winless after that weekend.
This time, that didn’t happen.
Sophomore forward Artem Shlaine set up fellow forward Vladislav Firstov, a junior, to start the lead at 2-1. The game was already won with this goal, but the Huskies couldn’t be stopped.
With three minutes left to play, Dartmouth pulled sophomore goalkeeper Clay Stevenson. In retrospect, Big Green would’ve been better off leaving him in, as the extra skater only hurt Dartmouth’s defense and couldn’t aid the offense.
UConn forwards Marc Gatcomb, a senior, and Ryan Tverberg, a sophomore, each had empty net goals in the final minutes to push the Huskies’ lead to three goals within two minutes. Tverberg currently leads in points, with four goals and five assists on the season.
UConn’s defense has been impressive this season under the leadership of grad student goalkeeper Darion Hanson, but Cavanaugh gave his praise to Dartmouth’s Stevenson and his performance before the empty net.
“He was stopping everything,” Cavanaugh said at the end of the game on Clay’s presence in front of the net. The Huskies out-shot Big Green 38-13, and Cavanaugh commended Stevenson’s ability to stop all that he faced, except for two.
Hanson was good, stopping 12 goals, a season low but still impressive considering that UConn kept Dartmouth to 13 shots, and that Hanson only allowed one beyond the line.
“We held them to 13 shots in the game. That was part of our game plan, to really protect the front of our net,” said Coach Cavanaugh reflecting on the shot statistic after the match-up.
The head coach seemed satisfied after his team’s win, despite it being a non-conference game. Dartmouth’s coach, on the other hand, also seemed quite content even after losing 4-1 at home.
“We’re a young team, but we’re growing every day. Jason Tapp [Dartmouth associate head coach] did a great job of getting our guys prepared for the penalty kill and we had phenomenal execution tonight to give us a chance,” Dartmouth head coach Reid Cashman said about his team.
He, too, alluded to Stevenson’s performance and the fact that he is a sophomore with room to grow but already shows potential.
UConn is now 4-3-0 and will stay on the road for another week, heading farther up north to play the University of Maine as they return to Hockey East play. The first game of the series is on Friday, Nov. 5 and the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. in Orono.