Hockey wins sloppy contest
By Peter Dunn
It wasn't pretty, but the job got done. The MIT men's hockey team scrapped and clawed their way to an 11-9 victory over the Wentworth Institute Leopards last Saturday, and advanced to face Worcester Polytechnic Institute in tonight's championship game of the Ben Martin tournament. WPI advanced earlier in the day by trouncing a disorganized and slow Springfield squad, 17-1.
MIT relied heavily on its big guns for the win, getting four goals from Jeff Bates '90 and three from newly acquired Alaine Coradeau G. But the Engineers will have to improve their sloppy defense if they hope to defeat WPI. It was this defense that in the waning minutes of Saturday's game allowed a cushy 11-5 lead get cut down to 11-9.
Neither MIT nor Wentworth garnered much of an offense in the early going, trading drives up the ice. The first period ended a 4-3 stalemate in MIT's favor: Bates potted his first two, taking advantage of a Wentworth lapse at the blue line for his first and the rebound of a Coradeau shot for his second. Coradeau scored his first on a drive from the right wing and Henry Dotterer '91 rounded out the MIT scoring with a long power-play goal from the right point.
Wentworth's three goals during the first period highlighted the flaws in the MIT defense. All three resulted from failure to cover opponents deep in the zone, resulting in too many scoring opportunities from close in. Wentworth's forechecking played a large role in this, disrupting MIT's transition and creating many loose pucks in the Engineers' defensive zone.
Fortunately for MIT, the scoring floodgate opened up in the second period. Bates again led the way, scoring only 21 seconds into the period when Rob Silva '93 faked tipping his shot from the left circle. Jeff Scharf '92 scored a short while later at 3:43 to extend the MIT lead to 6-3, but the real downpour
didn't come until less than five minutes were left to play.
Bates, then Coradeau, then PerGunnar Ostby '91, then Silva scored in quick succession, almost exactly one minute apart, to end the second period with a
10-4 margin. The key to the success of the Engineers squad was their willingness to just put the puck on the net, taking advantage of rebounds from the shaky Wentworth goaltending.
The tables turned during the third period as the Wentworth squad tried desperately to overcome the six goal deficit. Lackadaisical play on the part of MIT (three defensive gaffes at the blue line left the score at 11-7 with 8:36 to play) and gutsy decisions by Wentworth (who pulled their netminder with 3:30 remaining for a 6-on-3 advantage with Bates and Ostby in the penalty box) almost proved the undoing of the Engineers. But Wentworth could muster no more than five goals during the period, leaving it at 11-9.
The Engineers will have a difficult time wresting the trophy from WPI in the championship game. The Worcester squad has the upper hand in discipline, stickhandling, and particularly in size, which they are likely to throw around to intimidate MIT as they did Springfield.
A more disciplined defense will be needed to shut down WPI's crisp passing game, and MIT will have to be on the lookout for big #6 defenseman Mike Solomita, who showed against Springfield that he could singlehandedly muscle and stickhandle his way to the net.
To the Engineers' advantage, the same strategy that netted them six goals in the second period against Wentworth should also work against WPI: the goaltending seemed shaky at best the few times that it was seriously challenged by Springfield, often offering up a juicy 5-hole. The Worcester team also had trouble finishing their plays early on, giving MIT the advantage if they can score quickly.