Hanover, NH -- If Clarkson is one of the early season's pleasant surprises, Dartmouth has to be one of the disappointments. Bob Gaudet's Big Green, picked seventh by the league coaches and tied for fifth by the league's media, are 0-4.
Even worse than the record was the ugly fashion in how the last two losses went down on home ice at the Thompson Arena. Dartmouth lost to Union and RPI by a combined score of 14-3 last weekend.
The Big Green have some talent up front, but it hasn't exactly come to the forefront in the first two weekends of the year. Junior Tyler Sikura, the team's top returning scorer, has just one assist in four games. Respected by his peers, the Aurora, Ontario native was named captain. He has one of the quickest releases in the ECAC, and his ability to get back on track could certainly spark Dartmouth.
Another big area of concern in Hanover has to be that of the goaltending. Big Green goaltenders have combined for a .790 save percentage and a 5.48 goals against average. All three returning goaltenders, Cab Morris, Charles Grant and James Kruger, all had save percentages north of .900 last season.
This weekend's opponents won't be any easier for Dartmouth as Clarkson pays a visit Friday night followed by St. Lawrence and its high-powered offense a night later.
Clarkson defeated Brown, 4-3, last Friday, and lost to Yale, 6-3, a night later. Freshman A.J. Fossen's first collegiate goal with 1:53 to play in regulation lifted the Golden Knights past the Bears. A night later Clarkson saw its six game unbeaten streak come to an end in front of a sold-out crowd at Yale's Ingalls Rink. There is certainly no shame in losing to the defending NCAA Champions in their own barn.
Senior Allan McPherson and junior Joe Zarbo each have four goals to pace the Clarkson offense. Boston Bruins prospect Ben Sexton has eight helpers to go along with his one goal, but its been to the concentration on defense and stellar goaltending that has propelled Clarkson this season.
Even with his rough outing last weekend at Yale, freshman Steve Perry has a 1.94 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. The Ligonier, Pa. native has two shutouts in five starts. Sophomore Greg Lewis has a 2.00 goals against average and .925 save percentage.
St. Lawrence brings their high-flying offense to New England to face Harvard and Dartmouth. Greg Carvel's team skated to two consecutive ties last weekend, at Yale and at Brown. The offense is paced by senior Greg Carey who already has four goals and nine assists in eight games played. His younger brother Matt, a redshirt freshman, has five goals and five helpers. With St. Lawrence, opposing teams have to guard against the defense stepping into the offense. Senior Justin Baker and freshman Gavin Bayreuther are both averaging a point per game. Goaltending hadn't been up to par in nonconference action, but senior Matt Weninger stopped 67 of 73 shots faced last weekend.
Harvard, St. Lawrence's opponent Friday night, lost its first game of the season last Saturday at home to Union. The Crimson had cruised to a 2-0-1 start, including a win and tie against highly regarded RPI. Senior goaltender Raphael Girard has two shutouts in as many starts. Head coach Ted Donato has elected to go with a rotation in net so junior Steve Michalek has also gotten two starts. The offense has been paced by two sophomores, Kyle Criscuolo and Greg Gozzo, who have three and two goals respectively. Nashville Predators prospect Jimmy Vesey has just a goal and a helper, but he's been dominant at times. Two freshmen to keep an eye on are forwards Alexander Kerfoot and Sean Malone.
Dartmouth hosts Clarkson on Friday and St. Lawrence on Saturday while Harvard welcomes St. Lawrence on Friday and Clarkson on Saturday.
Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.