When is a shootout not a shootout? When it comes during holiday tournament play and is officially designated a decisive “skills exhibition,” as occurred Friday during the 28th annual Ledyard Bank Classic at Dartmouth’s Thompson Arena. The host Big Green and Army tied, 2-2, through three periods, before Dartmouth’s Corey Kalk scored the three-round shootout’s only goal.
Technically, the result goes down as a deadlock, but what followed propelled the hosts into Saturday’s championship matchup with No. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell. The River Hawks defeated Colgate, 3-2, during Friday’s first game. The Raiders and Black Knights will face off in the consolation contest today at 4 p.m.
“There aren’t a lot of times in a season where you play for a championship, even if it’s just in a tournament,” said Kalk, who saw his first action since suffering a Dec. 2 injury and who has scored in his last three contests. “We don’t get many chances to play Hockey East teams, either, so that’s a bonus for us.”
Army (9-6-2) misfired on several prime scoring chances during the game’s first 30 minutes and it was Dartmouth that struck first, capitalizing on a power play created by a holding call on the Black Knights’ Nash Warden. Troy Crema passed from the right sideboards and into the slot, which Kalk had just entered from the far side. Kalk received the feed, took his time cradling the puck, and fired a waist-high wrist shot past goaltender Parker Gahagan during the second period’s 18th minute.
The Big Green (4-5-3) doubled its lead 46 seconds later, following a Carl Hesler faceoff win to Gahagan’s left. Cameron Roth gained possession against the near boards and fired a shot off Gahagan’s pads. The rebound caromed directly to Cam Strong on the slot’s left side, and he one-timed the puck inside the near post.
Army, which held a 26-16 shot advantage after two periods, halved its deficit just before the second intermission. Dominic Franco’s pass from behind the goal line and to one side of the net found Blake Box pinching down from center point. Goaltender Devin Buffalo was unable to slide out from the post quickly enough to stop a low one-timer.
“Franco showed good poise to wait and wait and he’s been making great plays for us all year,” Army coach Brian Riley said.
The Black Knights needed less than a minute of the third period and a determined forecheck to pull even. Buffalo denied a Nick DeCenzo slap shot from the left point, but had no teammate nearby to clear the rebound. Conor Andrie, parked atop the crease, deposited it inside the net’s unguarded right side.
Army’s Franco intercepted a clearing pass in Dartmouth’s end midway through the third period, but couldn’t convert the ensuing breakaway. Buffalo shined during the shootout, capping a strong night for the junior. His 12 consecutive starts to begin the season are the most in such a circumstance since Mike Devine started the Big Green’s first 17 games during the 2006-07 campaign.
Notes: Army and Dartmouth share a connection in that late Black Knights coach Jack Riley was once a Dartmouth standout. Riley played for the Big Green during the 1940s, coached the 1960 U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal, and guided Army from 1950-86. A son, Rob, replaced Jack at West Point and he was succeeded in 2004 by his sibling, Brian. Jack Riley died in February and Dartmouth on Friday wore its jerseys from last season, which feature a patch that includes a shamrock and the initials “JPR” … Gaudet said next year’s Classic will feature No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth, New Hampshire, and Yale … Dartmouth leads its series with Army, 46-10-5. They last met during a 2008 Ledyard Classic contest and the Big Green has won four consecutive games against the Black Knights
Massachusetts-Lowell 3, Colgate 2
Mass.-Lowell held off a third-period Colgate rally Friday afternoon at the 28th Ledyard Bank Classic and prevailed, 3-2, during the first of the tournament’s four games.
“In the third period, we hung on and stopped skating and that’s not a good recipe for success,” said Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “We were watching and we (committed) three penalties and they scored on the power play and that helped them come back.”
Lowell took a 3-0 lead into the third period on goals by Colin O’Neill, Mattias Goransson, and Joe Gambardella, but Colgate rallied, getting a power-play strike from Adam Dauda at 5:15 of the third and an extra-attacker goal from Tim Harrison at 18:22.
“We played desperate in the third period and had a couple of good looks,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “We’ve been in a lot of games like that this year. We’re a young, inexperienced team that has to figure out how to play with that desperation for 60 minutes and not just eight or nine or 10 when you’re down by a goal or two.”