NH College Hockey: Flinton, Dartmouth set for big weekend at home

Jan. 25—THE Dartmouth College men's hockey team is always trying to learn and improve but it is certainly more fun to learn from wins, coach Reid Cashman said.

The Big Green (4-15-1, 3-9-1 ECAC) are enjoying film sessions a little more this week coming off their first weekend sweep of the season, which also ended a four-game losing skid.

Following conference victories at Brown (4-3) and Yale (4-0) last weekend, Dartmouth will host third-place and No. 11 Cornell (12-6-1, 9-3-0) Friday night and fourth-place Colgate (12-10-2, 9-3-0) on Saturday night at Thompson Arena. Both games are at 7 p.m.

The Big Green will honor their all-time winningest coach, Bob Gaudet, who retired in 2020 following his 32nd year leading the program, during Saturday's game. Cashman said at least 300 alumni who either played with or for Gaudet will be in attendance.

"For our group — winning is a skill and winning is a habit and we've learned how to compete and battle and get ourselves in these games," Cashman said. "Then it's a matter of now what do winning teams do? What does a winning culture look like? What are the habits that will produce the result, ultimately, we're looking for? That's all been building."

Dartmouth went 7-22-3 overall and 5-15-2 in ECAC play last year — Cashman's first season leading the program. The Big Green and their fellow Ivy League programs did not play during the 2020-21 season, Cashman's first year succeeding Gaudet, due to the pandemic.

Dartmouth is 2-7 in one-goal games this year. Those games have shown the team that it is only a few plays away from having several more wins and is playing well in a lot of areas, freshman forward Cooper Flinton said.

Cashman said the Big Green's current focuses are climbing the Ivy League standings and securing home ice for the first round of the ECAC tournament.

Every team qualifies for the ECAC tournament, which will have a single-game first-round format this year. The quarterfinals will be a best-of-three series and the winners will advance to the semifinals in Lake Placid, New York.

"(We're) just looking at the positives, I think, and realizing that we're so close and if we just keep getting better, we're going to be right there," said Flinton, an Auburn resident and St. Paul's School graduate.

Flinton, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect (2021 NHL draft, seventh round), recorded a season-high three points, including the game-tying and game-winning goals, in Dartmouth's triumph at Brown last Friday. He knotted the game at 3-3 with a power-play tally with 26.5 seconds left in the second period and notched the go-ahead goal with 3:32 remaining.

Cashman said Flinton (five goals, five assists) has taken a step over Dartmouth's past five games and gotten comfortable at the collegiate level. "He's starting to realize that he's as big and as strong as anybody on the ice and he can affect the outcome of the game," Cashman said.

Flinton's game-tying goal against Brown was part of the Big Green's 4-for-8 effort on the power play last weekend. Dartmouth freshman forward Luke Haymes also opened the game's scoring 2:48 into Dartmouth's 4-0 win over Yale five seconds after a power-play opportunity.

Cashman said his team's power-play performance last weekend was its best of the season both results and process-wise.

"I think that group of 10 guys — both units — just took what was open and didn't try to force it," Cashman said. "Ultimately, the power play has the extra player so it's about selecting the right option as opposed to creating that option and they did a great job with it."

Dartmouth's penalty-kill unit, which is No. 1 in the nation with a .908 percentage, went 1-for-6 last weekend. Brown's first-period power-play tally to open the scoring last Friday ended the Big Green's nine-game streak of not surrendering a goal on the man advantage.

Cornell has won six of its past eight games, including a 1-0 triumph over Dartmouth on Dec. 3 and a 4-0 win over then-No. 1 Quinnipiac University last Friday, and owns the No. 3 power-play unit in the nation (.288). The Big Red's only two blemishes over that eight-game stretch are a 3-3 tie with American International — they won in overtime — and a 2-1 overtime loss to then-No. 7 Harvard University.

"Their strength is they make it hard to score so you've got to take away the goalie's eyes and there's not a lot of ice and then their power play creates a lot of offense for them," Cashman said of the Big Red. "Then you come back the next night and, to me, Colgate's strength is their transition. They've got some big-time players and their power play can do some damage."

Before Brown, Colgate was the last team to score a power-play goal on Dartmouth, notching two in the first period of a 5-1 victory on Dec. 2.

The Raiders defeated Quinnipiac, 3-2, and earned a 5-0 triumph over Princeton last weekend to extend their three-game winning streak.

"We think it's a great challenge and we're excited for it," Flinton said of the weekend.

Plymouth State men reach best ranking in poll

The Plymouth State men's team moved up one spot to No. 13 — matching its program-best mark — in this week's U.S. College Hockey Online poll.

Plymouth State also reached No. 13 in the poll during its 2017-18 and 2018-2019 campaigns, the latter of which ended with a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference championship and NCAA Division III tournament berth.

The MASCAC-leading Panthers (14-3-1, 11-0-0 MASCAC) picked up two more conference victories last week — 5-2 at second-place Worcester State and 6-1 over Framingham State. Plymouth State came back from a 2-0 first-intermission deficit in its win at Worcester State.

The Panthers have won 10 straight games entering MASCAC bouts against last-place Salem State (3-14-0, 1-10-0) tonight at 6 at home and at third-place Fitchburg State (8-7-2, 6-3-2) on Saturday at 3 p.m.

UNH women end losing streak to BC

The UNH women's team ended a seven-game losing streak to Hockey East foe Boston College last Friday with a 5-3 home triumph over the then-No. 15 Eagles.

Junior forward Brianna Brooks notched a hat trick and an assist and graduate student Ava Boutilier made 30 saves for the Wildcats in their first win over Boston College since the 2019-20 season.

The Eagles' loss to UNH and a 2-1 overtime setback at Maine last weekend dropped them out of this week's USCHO poll.

UNH (9-17-0, 7-12-0 Hockey East) will host No. 13 Providence College (17-8-3, 12-6-3) Friday night at 6 before visiting No. 14 Connecticut (16-8-3, 10-7-3) on Sunday at 3 p.m.

The UNH men are off this weekend.

ahall@unionleader.com