MVP Doug Jones Leads Dartmouth Ice Hockey

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Dartmouth forward Doug Jones hails from Marietta, Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Mark Washburn).

By David I. Rufful

The Dartmouth men’s hockey team traveled to Manchester last Saturday to face off against its formidable state rival, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, for the RiverStone Cup. New Hampshire has defeated Dartmouth six out of the last nine contests for the RiverStone Cup. Division I men’s hockey rankings on USCHO.com place New Hampshire at seventh while Dartmouth stands at eighteenth. Although UNH was favored going into Saturday’s contest, Dartmouth outlasted the Wildcats in a 5-4 victory and their first RiverStone trophy since 2008.

Dartmouth junior Doug Jones pushed Dartmouth to victory as he scored with just over a minute to play in the final period. With two points and the game winning shot, Jones was awarded Most Valuable Player in the Battle for the RiverStone Cup. Despite his spectacular individual effort, Jones modestly played down his performace after the game, saying, “Everyone contributed and the end result was a bonus to our hard work.” His work helped boost Dartmouth to a 10-5-2 record, while New Hampshire fell to 12-4-4.

“All year, we have harped on keeping the game simple and playing with consistent energy for 60 minutes.” Jones said, “We did this for most of the game against UNH by getting pucks out of our zone, into theirs, and finishing hits.” Saturday’s game was an exciting 60 minutes with nine goals scored, 68 shot attempts and five lead changes.

Dartmouth and the Wildcats traded goals during the first two periods. After New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead at 5:07 in the first period, Dartmouth senior Scott Fleming responded with a goal at 18:55. Rob Smith ’11 scored early in the second period to give Dartmouth a lead, but New Hampshire’s John Henrion hit back at 9:30 to tie the score 2-2.

Going into the third period, neither team was in full control. Jones ’12 says the game plan did not change. “Even more so in a tight third period, we wanted to keep pucks out of the middle of the ice, get shots on net, and keeps shifts under 45 seconds to sustain the high temp.” And Dartmouth was able to sustain that tempo with goals from Joe Stejskal ’11 and Dustin Walsh ‘13.The Wildcats seemed unable to find an answer for Indian goalie James Mello ’12 who ended the contest with 34 saves.

This win marked the last non-conference game of the season for Dartmouth as they return to league play this upcoming weekend. Jones said, “The mind set for this week in practice is get better everyday and stay focused on the present.  We are playing two good teams this weekend and need to have a good week of preparation.”

On Friday, Dartmouth travels to play the Union College Dutchmen, who recently defeated Colgate 2-1 and moved up in polls on USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine. The Dutchmen are led by sophomore forward Kyle Bodie, named MLX Skates ECAC Player of the Week for his recent performances against St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Union is currently ranked in 3rd in ECAC standings, which is one up on Dartmouth.

Dartmouth is simultaneously preparing for the Rensselaer Red Hawks, who stand at 8th place in the ECAC conference, four behind Dartmouth. Like Union, the Red Hawks recently defeated Colgate 2-1 as senior forward Chase Polacek scored on a penalty shot in overtime. This season, Polacek has racked up 11 goals, 19 assists and 30 points. In conference play, the Red Hawks waver with a winning percentage of .500 while Dartmouth stands at .650.

This weekend is an opportunity for Dartmouth to improve their record and increase their standing in conference play. Senior Scott Fleming ’11 has led Dartmouth this season with 8 goals, 12 assists and 20 points while senior Adam Estoclet ’11 has also tallied 8 goals, 8 assists and 16 points. Meanwhile, Mello ’12 has guarded the net with 349 saves and maintained a .936 save percentage. Dartmouth fans will look to the leadership of these upperclassmen as a major advantage going into this weekend’s contests.