Rebecca Burten / The Dartmouth
The No. 16 Dartmouth men's team (11-7-2, 7-5-1 ECAC) will face off against Union (13-8-4, 6-4-3 ECAC) and RPI (8-11-5, 3-6-3 ECAC) on this weekend's road trip. The strong No. 18 Dutchmen will be the men's first matchup.
"Union was just a couple of games away from winning the championship last year they were in the Frozen Four," head coach Bob Gaudet said.
The Dutchmen are riding a three-game winning streak, cinching two of those wins at home. The last time Union and Dartmouth faced off in November, the Big Green won 3-2, surviving an offensive push late in the game.
The rink in Schenectady, N.Y., has a different feel than the one in Hanover, changing the pace of the game.
"The ice surface there feels smaller, so things tend to happen more quickly," Gaudet said.
Shaking off back-to-back 2-4 losses to Yale University and St. Lawrence University, the men's team tempered those lows with last Saturday's 5-1 win over Clarkson University and mounting excitement for this weekend's play.
"To come back on Saturday night last week was really important to us," Gaudet said.
The Union game will be an important step for Dartmouth's progression since the teams are similarly ranked. With Dartmouth third in the ECAC and Union fourth due to tiebreakers, both teams are looking to move past the second-ranked Bulldogs (12-5-3, 8-4-1 ECAC).
The match against the Engineers, 11th in the ECAC, offers the Big Green another opportunity to make conference headway. RPI has won their past three home games and are trying to defend that record against Dartmouth on Saturday.
"RPI is very solid in everything they do offensively and defensively, but physically they try to wear you down," Gaudet said.
As the second game on the road trip to upstate New York, the outranked Engineers pose an endurance threat to Dartmouth. Gaudet, however, praised the his squad's youthful energy and their continuing development that he hopes will propel them to a repeat victory over RPI.
The women's team (12-7-3, 7-6-2 ECAC) will host conference-leading and No. 3 in the nation Harvard (17-2-1, 14-1 ECAC) at Thompson Arena on Saturday. The match is the second meeting for the two squads. At the previous match in Cambridge, the Crimson won 0-6.
"Hopefully we will play better than in our previous game against Harvard," coach Mark Hudak said, "In our previous game I think we came out flat and we gave Harvard the momentum at the very beginning of the game, and we never recaptured it."
The young Big Green team was outmatched by Harvard's top-shelf performance. Dartmouth is trying to rally back after away game losses to Clarkson (20-6, 12-2 ECAC) and St. Lawrence (14-10-2, 9-4-1 ECAC) with this home stand that starts with the Crimson this weekend and is followed by two more Ivy League opponents, Brown University and Yale (4-16-1, 3-10-1 ECAC).
"We had a couple of scoring opportunities against St. Lawrence and Clarkson but there are just things that we didn't execute on," captain Jenna Hobeika '12 said.
The Big Green focused on improving their power play to use in similar situations this weekend. Instead of radically changing the power play system, the team hopes to hone in on achieving better results in key areas.
"Harvard, they are a really good team and they play really well together," captain Reagan Fischer '12 said.
The Crimson women have only one ECAC loss this year. The Big Green are trying to unseat them from their first-place spot in the conference standings.
"This is different from most weekends when we are preparing for two different teams," Hudak said. "A lot of what we are doing is focusing on our own play and not too much about what Harvard does."
Dartmouth does need to search for an answer to Harvard's top-class play. The Big Green's offense has been struggling. Scoring only one goal last weekend really put the spotlight on the attack, according to Fischer.
"We are certainly excited to play Harvard here at home," Hudak said, "The fact that it will be televised makes it a big deal to the team."
The women host the Crimson on Friday night at Thompson Arena, which will be broadcast on Fox College Sports. The men's game against Union on Friday will be televised on NBC Sports, and they face RPI in Troy, N.Y., on Saturday.