Hanover, NH- The game was penalty filled, but in the end it turned out to be a thriller as UMass scored an early third period goal, off the stick of Branden Gracel, to take home the Ledyard Bank National Classic. UMass had a strong first period but left the period with nothing to show for it and trailing the Big Green 2-1. Connor Sheary opened the scoring at three minutes, four seconds into the first period giving UMass an early 1-0 lead. The lead was short-lived as Dartmouth would respond shorthanded at 9:50, a goal by Brett Patterson to tie the game at one apiece. The Big Green would pot another one 1:23 later to take the 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
The second period was penalty filled and UMass scored the only goal, a shorthanded marker from Eddie Olzcyzk, to send the game into the second intermission tied at two. 15 seconds into the third period Branden Gracel, the tournament MVP, scored the eventual game winner and UMass escaped with the 3-2 win. The Minutemen improve 7-9-2 on the season, while Dartmouth drops their first home game of season falling to 8-3-2.
What I Saw
- UMass and Dartmouth were evenly matched for the full 60 minutes. UMass seemed to be the aggressor in the contest but Dartmouth never backed down and competed just as hard. The game, despite the 87 penalty minutes, was a great college hockey game between two spirited teams.
- The key to the UMass win on this night was the special teams, as they scored two power-play goals and a shorthanded goal. The three goals accounted for all the offense for the Minutemen on the night. On paper, one would have assumed that Dartmouth would have the advantage but in the end the two power-play goals that UMass scored were one more than Dartmouth had allowed all season.
- Dartmouth played a near perfect game against UNH on Sunday night, but this game was in no way a bad game from them. To the very end they competed with UMass but when two teams come with their A-games one team unfortunately has to lose, and on this night it was the Big Green.
What I Thought
- The fact that UMass won the special teams battle was rather shocking, considering that Dartmouth had allowed just one power-play goal all season. UMass’ power-play looked great all weekend and they had many opportunities to show for it. Tonight they went two for nine on the power-play and shut down the Dartmouth power-play, it was a whale of an effort on special teams from them.
- Dartmouth struggled to find a rhythm with all the penalties in the final two periods, and UMass was able to shut them down in those stanzas. The loss on this night was Dartmouth’s first on home ice all season, but on the road they are just 1-2-1. Transferring these home efforts and wins will be key for them going into the second half of the season.
- Kevin Boyle was key to the UMass win, as he was tested time after time in the last 30 or so minutes. Many of the 26 saves that he made on the night were difficult ones. He will be key for UMass in the second half. If he is as good the rest of the season as he was on this night, Hockey East will be one alert
What They Said
UMass Coach John Micheleto said,
“It was disjointed, emotional and electric.Both teams were really fired up and their were interesting calls both ways but teams that can deal with those sorts of adversities and keep focus it is a good test for a team.”
“”You have to win on the road, whether its in league or non-conference. Wins are really important in terms of the power ranking. Again we just wanted to get our second half going in a positive direction. I feel like the product was equal to the process for us.”
Dartmouth Coach Bob Gaudet said,
“It was a bizarre game and I just can’t put my finger on it. There was no flow to the game and we worked really hard, battled hard. They are a good team and they have 18 full scholarships on that team. They played hard, im disappointed in the result but I can’t put my finger on the why. There are plays that happen.”
“There was a lot of them (penalties). In a game like this we almost have to develop two more forwards. It is what is. We played hard and we expended a lot of energy killing penalties.”
UMass Goalie Kevin Boyle said,
“I try to give my team the chance to win every night. We played well tonight and we got some bounces. My teammates buried some of them and we got the win.”
What Else You Should Know
Dartmouth has a quick turnaround and will get back at it against a tough Quinnipiac team that is unbeaten in their last 12 contests. Dartmouth has played just four road games on the year and the game on Friday will be their first road game in four games.
UMass will have two weeks off. They will return to action on Friday January, 11th in a two-game home and home series with Providence College. Transferring their success from this tournament into the Hockey East grueling schedule, will be something that UMass needs to do going forward.