Men’s hockey wins Ledyard Classic

by Ashley DuPuis | 1/3/16 9:13pm

The Big Green won the 27th Annual Ledyard Classic on Sunday night when the team defeated No. 20 Merrimack College 3-0.

The champion of the 27th Ledyard Classic was determined by point differentials after Union College and Dartmouth both finished the tournament 2-0. The Big Green claimed the tournament title for the first time since 2008 with a point differential of 7 to Union’s 2.

Against Merrimack, Grant Opperman ’17 gave the Big Green its first goal with six minutes left of the first period, which was preceded by a big save from goalkeeper Charles Grant ’16. Dartmouth couldn’t convert its first power play 13 minutes into the game, but with less than a minute left in the first period Brett Patterson ’16 was able to score off of Dartmouth’s second power play of the night. As time ran out, Merrimack attempted a last second shot only to be stopped by Grant.

Dartmouth continued their strong play in the second period. With twelve minutes left in the second, Grant made a big save as the puck rested on the Big Green goal line. Nick Bligh ’16 made Dartmouth’s final goal of the night shortly later.

Merrimack received its first power play of the night after Troy Crema ’17 went to the penalty box for roughing late in the period, but the Warriors were not able to find the net. Neither team scored in the third period.

After a two game losing streak on the road, the team rallied to defeat Robert Morris University in a 5-1 victory in the first game of the 27th Annual Ledyard Classic on Saturday.

“We had a tough road stretch at the end of 2015,” head coach Bob Gaudet said. “That schedule was brutal, so it was nice to come home to start the second half and come out playing really well in front of our fans.”

The Big Green held the Colonials to 18 shots, 17 below their season average. Robert Morris came into the game as the top ranked power play team in the nation but was held to 0-2 in man advantage situations.

Captain Brad Schierhorn ’16 followed a successful penalty kill when he netted his first goal of the season at 8:17 in the third period, putting the Big Green up 3-1.

Schierhorn cited the moment as a turning point.

“Our penalty kill was solid all night, so for us to get a goal right after a good kill felt like it might have been deflating for [Robert Morris],” he said.

Goalkeeper Grant and forwards Schierhorn and Bligh earned all tournament recognition. Bligh also picked up MVP honors, and Grant received special recognition as the first goalkeeper of the tournament to achieve a shutout game since 2011. Throughout the entire tournament, Grant allowed just one point.

“We got back to our fundamentals,” Bligh said of Dartmouth’s tournament performance, adding that the break before the Ledyard Classic was helpful after being on the road.

Prior to the Ledyard Classic Dartmouth’s men’s hockey team took on a challenging interim schedule, facing four nationally ranked teams.

For the second consecutive year, the team kicked off their season against Harvard University, now No. 7. Despite a home match-up, the Big Green could not match the success of last years initial meeting with the Crimson, falling 0-7 on Oct. 31 and 2-5 in a following away match-up on Nov. 1.

The team sits at an overall record of 5-7-1 for interim. Despite a losing record, the Big Green scored league victories over Brown University and Princeton University, leaving them with a conference record of 2-3.

Dartmouth also tied No. 10 University of Michigan — then ranked No. 12 — 1-1. The tie came after a 0-7 loss to Michigan the day before. The second Michigan meeting proved to be a showcase of goalkeeper Devin Buffalo ’18’s talent. Buffalo made a great impact in his first career start for the Dartmouth men’s hockey team, making a total of 37 saves. The Wolverines stayed in the game by outshooting the Big Green 38-36, despite Dartmouth’s 18 shot offensive kick in the third period. Michigan ultimately won the subsequent exhibition shootout 1-0; however, the game will still go into the NCAA records as a 1-1 tie. Subsequently, the match became the first draw in the eight-game history between the two programs.

The Big Green head to Burlington, Vt. next to face the University of Vermont on Friday, Jan. 8, followed by a matchup against College of the Holy Cross in Thompson Arena on Sunday, Jan. 10.