Category: Recap

New And Returning Faces Power Dores To Weekend Split Versus Indiana

A long Christmas vacation left the Dores eager to embark on their first road trip and games of the new year. Two matchups against a strong Indiana University team managed to thrust Vanderbilt right back into the midseason swing of things. Over the course of the two games, a 5-2 Vanderbilt victory on Friday night followed by a 2-0 loss the next day, both teams found themselves fighting for every inch of ice. The weekend produced physical, penalty-ridden, yet still entertaining affairs between the two clubs.

Firing In To The Spring

At the start of the first game, it was evident the boys in black and gold were experiencing a bad case of “bus legs.” A six-hour bus ride to Bloomington made for some sloppy play in the first period. Indiana managed to break the 0-0 deadlock with just under five minutes remaining in the period. Vanderbilt quickly kicked into gear after the Hoosier goal, and popped in two quick tallies thirty seconds apart. The first came courtesy of Brock Raffaele, and Ryan Doppelheuer managed to add another off a hustle-play that saw him bury a rebound past a helpless Indiana goaltender. Doppelheuer’s goal was his first since the opening game of the season. The junior forward is thankful to be back in action after recovering from an injury in the fall.

The Commodores took its 2-1 lead into the second period knowing that the two goals were not reflective of how the team played the first period. Fortunately, the boys regrouped for a huge second period that saw the Dores add three goals. Raffaele kicked things off with a goal on the power play just two minutes into the period. Calen Leverant, playing in his first game of the season, scored later in the period off a rebound in front of the net that saw Indiana’s netminder scrambling to find the puck before Leverant was able to poke it in.

“Since I had not skated for 11 months prior, I was quite nervous going into the game,” confessed Leverant, the team’s resident north-south freight train who spent the fall studying abroad in Singapore. “Scoring after a long hiatus was extremely important because it removed all of my anxiety. The play was simple, I just forechecked hard and crashed the net.”

Indiana managed to reduce the deficit with a late goal in the second, but the Commodores restored its three-goal lead in short order. Defenseman Steve Patalano jumped in on a rush with under a minute remaining, skating the length of the ice to tap home a rebound on a 2 on 1 opportunity. With a 5-2 lead heading into the third, Vanderbilt controlled the game through the final stanza to secure the win.

Power Play Struggles Doom Dores

Saturday night’s game was an entirely different affair defined by excessive penalties by Indiana and power play woes from Vanderbilt.

An energy-filled first period only produced a single goal from Indiana. The intensity was high but it was clear that goals were going to be a very hard to come by. The second period was a different story as Indiana began to stack up penalties, but the goals did not come for Vanderbilt. The Hoosiers took six penalties in the second period alone, granting the Dores multiple power plays that included two short 5 on 3 advantages. However, the Commodores could not click offensively and the Hoosiers seemed to effortlessly kill off any penalty they took. Vanderbilt tried to regroup during the second intermission, strategizing over the power play and discussing cracks in the Hoosier defense. The opportunities at redemption were not scarce, as Indiana took four more penalties in the third period, however the Dores were still unable to capitalize. The offense was clicking, but Indiana’s goalie was more intent on preserving his shutout. A few close chances had the Commodores knocking on the door, but Indiana tallied a dagger with three minutes remaining to ensure their victory.

A Family Affair, And Debut

One of the highlights of the weekend (and really the season) was the debut of “rookie” Andrew Herzog. A 27-year-old third-year law school student and father of two, “Dewey” had flirted with the prospect of skating for the club for each of his three years at Vanderbilt. Unfortunately, the timing never lined up for the Air Force graduate to don the black and gold due to family commitments and other responsibilities on the work and school fronts – that is, until this spring, Dewey’s final semester.

As fate would have it, the stars finally aligned, and with the help of some babysitters “stationed” in Bloomington, Dewey was able to skate with the team for the first time. The result? Massive body checks (the likes of which the club hasn’t seen since 2011 grad Nathan Tardiff patrolled the blue line for the Commodores), tremendous leadership in the locker room, and even an assist on a rush that Doc Emrick might describe as “workman-like.” To quote Dewey’s 4-year-old son Gavin, “My daddy is great at hockey!” His Commodore teammates agree, and they are excited to have Dewey aboard for his swan-song-semester at Vanderbilt.

Just Getting Started

This tough but humbling weekend has Vanderbilt excited to play out the rest of the campaign against a host of other great teams. The Dores will have to wait to rebound from the sting of its loss to Indiana, though, as this weekend’s games versus Life and Georgia have been canceled due to weather. Next up for the Dores will be a surging Georgia team loaded with young talent and strong goaltending. It’ll be a terrific challenge in the weekend leading up to this year’s SECHC tournament set to be played at the Ford Ice Center, home of your Vanderbilt Commodores.

For fans and family scattered across the South and Mid-Atlantic, be safe this weekend. Thanks for your continued support and looking forward to hitting the ice again this week. Anchor down!

The Dores Shake Off the Post-Break Rust with a Two-Win Weekend Against Delaware and Clemson

The Commodores returned from fall break confident following their most recent win against Arkansas. The Dores knew they would have to keep that level of play and intensity against the likes of Delaware and Clemson if they wanted to complete a weekend sweep and push the team’s record to 9-2. While the team’s best hockey was not on display over the two games, the Commodores managed to eek out wins against two tough opponents.

Friday night the Dores took on a tough Delaware team, and while both teams took over half of the first period to settle in, the game turned into a shootout. Vanderbilt’s junior captain John Longman put the Commodores up midway through the first period with a goal on the power play. Delaware responded just five minutes later with a goal of their own, but Vanderbilt freshman Blake Beber took a long Bobby Mallon board pass for a breakaway soon after to put the Dores up 2-1 going into the second period. With the rust of fall break off, the second period was all business for the Commodores. Despite giving up two early goals to relinquish the lead, Vanderbilt managed to pile up three goals from Beber, Matt Murphy, and John Longman to take a more comfortable lead into the third. Down two goals, Delaware managed to give the Commodores a scare by scoring with seven minutes left, but junior forward Nick Honkala erased any doubt when he blasted a power play goal by the Delaware goaltender two minutes later. The 6-4 victory gave the Dores confidence going into a Sunday game against a tough Clemson team.

Vanderbilt came ready to play Sunday morning against Clemson, and that showed over the course of the first two periods. Longman tallied a goal in the first with a rocket over the goalie’s shoulder off of the Brock Raffaele face-off win. Raffaele then went on to score in the second, deking two defenders and the goalie en route to the undoubtedly nicest goal of the season.

The 2-0 lead after two periods had the Commodores in good position to win the game, but they needed a complete third period to do so. Raffaele was not done adding to the highlight reel. He topped his goal in the second period with another triple deke that dropped jaws on the bench. Nick Honkala then pounced on the Tigers for another goal just over a minute after. It seemed as though Clemson was going to bury their heads as the Dores kept scoring, but two quick goals from the Tigers gave them life in a 4-2 game. With just over a minute left, the Dores’ lead continued to slip as the Tigers scored a deflected goal to trim the lead to one. However, Longman had enough with the comeback and iced the game with an empty netter to cap off his four goal, and Vanderbilt’s two win, weekend.

The Dores didn’t exactly make it pretty, but wins are wins. The team leaned heavily on junior goaltender Ryan Kellenberger to hold down the fort when the fall break rust seemed to leave Vanderbilt in a defensive haze. The team will be looking to ride their three game winning streak as they travel to play two games against in-state rival Tennessee on November 6th and 7th.

Two-Win Weekend Highlighted By First Victory Over Arkansas

Last season’s Commodores cruised through much of their schedule, beating teams by sheer talent and the ability to pile up goals. However, playing disciplined, physical teams proved to be a challenge for Vanderbilt in 2014-2015. This past weekend the team was offered an opportunity for revenge against two such clubs, responding with two victories in three games against Ole Miss and Arkansas.

The weekend began on Friday night at Ford Ice Center where Vandy took on Ole Miss. Last year the Dores suffered a heartbreaking loss in Mississippi as the Rebels scored two goals in the final two minutes of the game to win. The game started quickly thanks in large part to the efforts of freshman forward Blake Beber who scored one goal and assisted another. The rest of the period was fairly quiet and VU left the ice after one with a 2-0 lead. In the second, Ole Miss tied the game but John Longman responded only 11 seconds later to put Vandy back on top. Beber took over again in the third, scoring an early goal and adding a second assist on Jack Gibbons’ late in the game to prevent a comeback in what was a 4-2 game. The freshman’s fourth point of the night gave the Commodores a 5-2 lead they would carry until the final buzzer.

“Going up against Ole Miss was a great way to start the weekend because we knew we had three big games to take care of,” explained Beber, who is second on the team in scoring. “Getting the energy boost from Friday night with a big team win was great to take into the two Arkansas games.”

With a victory already under their belt, the Dores turned their attention to Arkansas, a team widely regarded as the powerhouse of the SECHC with five of the last six SECHC Tournament Championships. Vanderbilt entered Saturday evening 0-3 all-time against Arkansas, being outscored 27-2 in those three games. The game started off fast-paced and physically, with neither team reaching the scoreboard until the Razorbacks scored a goal with just over two minutes left in the first period. The second period featured more physical play, but no scoring. The game remained 1-0 until Arkansas capitalized on a 5-on-3 powerplay midway through the third period. Penalties were an issue for the Commodores throughout the third period, with four minors and a misconduct hindering any chance at a comeback. Matt Murphy scored a goal with 1:10 left to cut the lead to one, and although Arkansas hung on for the 2-1 victory, Vanderbilt’s players felt that they had proven they could compete with a team who had mystified them in the past.

“The loss on Saturday helped us realize what we needed to do to beat this team,” said senior defenseman Michael Hite. “This team had been a lot of trouble for us in the past, but we came in the next morning with the expectation of winning.”

The Commodores jumped on the Razorbacks early on Sunday, with graduate student Brock Raffaele scoring his first goal of his Vanderbilt career early in the first to put the home team ahead. It was another fast and physical game, but Ryan Kellenberger stood tall in the pipes to keep the 1-0 lead going through the first two periods. Early in the third, Captain John Longman scored his first of the game, and the lead would only increase from there. Longman would score two more goals in the period for a natural hat trick and Jack Gibbons added one of his own with just over a minute left to put the Commodores up 5-0. Kellenberger stopped all 22 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season against arguably the toughest opponent the Commodores have faced thus far.

“This was a great weekend for us against a very good Arkansas team,” noted Kellenberger. “Things did not go our way Saturday, but we stayed the course and Sunday we took it to them. I think it is a big stepping stone for us as we know we can play with the best teams in the league if we play like we know we can.”

After the weekend, the Commodores’ record sits at 7-2 and the team is currently tied for first in the first ever SECHC Coaches’ Poll. Next weekend Vanderbilt takes on Delaware and Clemson at home, looking to continue their recent success.

Beber, Wood Power Vandy To OT Thriller In Home Opener

After a nearly seven-month hiatus, the Vanderbilt Commodores returned to the ice this weekend for a matchup with the Florida Gators. Despite the Commodores’ recent success, particularly at home where they boasted a 12-1 record last season in the fantastic new Ford Ice Center, the club has not won a home opener since the 2011-12 season. That changed Sunday as Vandy prevailed in overtime, 4-3.

The first period seemed to be a bit lacking in the energy department for both squads. Vanderbilt did not get off to a very fast start and a Florida team playing its third game of the weekend with only 13 skaters seemed to welcome that opening tempo. Despite some good chances for the Dores, a late Florida goal put the visitors up 1-0 heading into the first intermission. The Commodores responded with a surge in the early second period, but couldn’t break through the Florida defense until freshman Blake Beber stole a puck from a UF defender and beat the goalie for his first career Vanderbilt Hockey goal. Despite falling down on the celebration and generally looking like a freshman, Beber’s goal lit a fire under the Commodores. The teams traded goals in the remainder of the second period, leaving it all tied up at 2 with 20 minutes to go.

“You always hope to get contributions from your new guys, even if you don’t really expect it, so just having him get the goal was great,” noted senior forward and alternate caption Jack Gibbons. “But the way he scored, stripping the defenseman and tucking it on the breakaway was huge. It really got the team back into the game after a sluggish first period.”

In the third, Beber was once again the hero, scoring a goal eight minutes into the period which was assisted by linemates Gibbons and Matt Murphy. As time drew down, the Dores looked to close out the game, but some questionable decisions by the officials, including missed cross checks and punches thrown by the Florida squad, gave the visitors a chance to get back in the game. They took advantage of that opportunity by tying the game up with only 55 seconds left in regulation.

As the teams returned to the ice for a brief overtime period, the Commodores were determined not to let another winnable game slip out of their grasp at the beginning of the season. Defenseman Thomas Wood (Carson) took matters into his own hands by walking the blue line and firing a low wrister into the open far side of the net not even a minute into OT. The bench erupted and mobbed the overtime hero as Vanderbilt won its first home opener in four years.

“It was really great to get a W our first game,” explained Wood, a sophomore from Massachusetts. “We were a little rusty and with Florida having already played a few games they had some good chemistry going. It was looking a little dim after giving up a goal with under a minute left, but thankfully I got a great opportunity right at the start of OT. Dopps screened the goalie well and Longman drew 2 guys so it was a good team play with me simply taking the shot. Couldn’t be happier with the result.”

The Commodores look to take their success on the road this weekend with two games against South Carolina before returning home for the College Hockey Scholar Shootout. As always, keep up with the team on Facebook, Twitter or right here on the website for all information about your favorite team.