Jin Lee / The Dartmouth Staff
The No. 18 men's team (13-10-4, 9-8-3 ECAC) plays Princeton University and No. 1 Quinnipiac University. The Tigers (9-14-4, 7-10-3 ECAC) are one of the Big Green's perennial rivals and, along with Quinnipiac, boasts the league's third and fourth best goalies in terms of save percentage, respectively. The Princeton game also typically features the tradition of fans throwing tennis balls onto the ice from the stands.
"The tennis ball tradition is something we appreciate," coach Bob Gaudet said. "Limit the tennis balls for the first goal though, we get a penalty after and this will be a close game."
Princeton is four spots behind the Big Green's fifth place standing in the ECAC, but the last matchup between the two teams resulted in a 2-1 Tigers win. Despite an early lead and a 19-shot advantage, Dartmouth failed to find the back of the net more than once.
"There are no easy games in the ECAC," Gaudet said. "Each and every game, we have to be our absolute best."
Princeton comes to Dartmouth's ice hoping to snap its four-game losing streak, while Dartmouth looks to improve its seeding for the postseason.
The Tigers excel defensively and rank fourth in the ECAC in penalty kill percentage. Battling this strong defense, Dartmouth looks to improve its conversion of shots to goals. In its 4-0 loss last Friday to Clarkson University, Dartmouth had a 28-21 shot advantage, and in its win over St. Lawrence university on Saturday, the Big Green boasted a 40-27 shot advantage.
Following the contest against Princeton, Dartmouth takes on the Bobcats (23-4-5, 16-1-3 ECAC), the top team in the ECAC and the nation. Quinnipiac nearly fell to Dartmouth in the teams' previous meeting when Dartmouth scored two third-period goals to send the game into overtime. Ultimately, Quinnipiac prevailed, but Dartmouth enters this game knowing it can compete with the top team in the nation.
Gaudet said that the Big Green's close victory over St. Lawrence (16-12-4, 9-7-4 ECAC) this past weekend give Dartmouth confidence that it can handle whatever teams throw at them. Qunnipiac has not lost any of its 12 away games this season, so Dartmouth will need everything it can muster to knock off the league-leaders.
On the women's side, Dartmouth (16-8-5, 11-7-4 ECAC) travels to Cambridge to face the Crimson (21-5-3, 17-3-2 ECAC) in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
"When you get to the postseason, it is about being consistent and doing things well," coach Mark Hudak said.
Dartmouth and Harvard have matched up twice this year, first ending with a Harvard 6-0 blowout of the Big Green and then with a tie in the beginning of February.
"They outplayed us in the first game, the second was a lot more evenly matched," captain Jenna Hobeika '12 said.
The Big Green hopes to continue to improve on its sixth place position while upsetting the third-ranked ECAC team.
"We improved a lot from just a few weeks ago," goalie Lindsay Holdcroft '14 said.
Both Dartmouth and Harvard enter this series following a 1-1-1 record in their last three games. Both teams lost to Clarkson University, but the Big Green had a more impressive win against St. Lawrence, who tied Harvard last weekend.
The Big Green will focus on shutting down Harvard's offense, led by senior forward Jillian Dempsey, who has the ECAC's third-most goals and fourth-most points. The Big Green also plans to put offensive pressure on senior goaltender Laura Bellamy, who leads the ECAC in save percentage and win percentage.
"We are working on crashing the net on offense, playing well in the defensive zone and finishing our checks," Hobeika said.
Increasing offensive pressure should help put pressure on Bellamy. In the teams' last matchup, Dartmouth's two goals were largely thanks to attacks from unexpected angles and overwhelming her on the powerplay.
"We know who they are and they know who we are," Hudak said. "We need to start the game well. The team that starts well can control the tempo."
Holdcroft said that the playoffs are different than the regular season.
"Anyone can beat anyone on any given day," she said.