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Providence Overpowers Dartmouth for Tourney Title

  • Dartmouth's Kevan Kilistoff (16) and Daniel Warpecha (8) are blocked from the Providence net by Vincent Desharnais (2) Michael Callahan (23) and Scott Conway (10) in the 30th Ledyard Classic in Hanover, N.H., on Sunday, Dec.30,2018.(Valley News-Rick Russell)Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth's Jeff Losurdo (26) ends up on top of a stack of players in the Providence goal, with teammate Drew O'Connor (18) on the bottom, but didn't get the puck into the net in the 30th Ledyard Classic in Hanover, N.H., on Sunday, Dec.30,2018.(Valley News-Rick Russell)Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth goalie Adrian Clark (35) blocks a shot by Providence forward Vimal Sukumaran during the 3rd period of the 30th Ledyard Classic in Hanover, N.H., on Sunday, Dec.30,2018.(Valley News-Rick Russell)Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hanover — The Dartmouth College men’s hockey team knew it was taking a significant step up in opposition on Sunday when it faced No. 10 Providence during the title game of the Big Green’s holiday tournament at Thompson Arena.

Maybe make that two steps up, for after breezing by Army the night before, the hosts lost, 5-3, to the talent-laden Friars.

The Big Green surrendered the game’s first goal but led, 2-1, after a period, raising hopes among most in an announced gathering of 2,347. And then, boom! Providence scored on four of five shots during a four-minute span of the second period, leaving its opponents looking as if they were skating in sand.

“I don’t know if Dartmouth knows what hit them,” analyst Adam Frenier told an ESPN+ audience following a second period during which the Friar took 15 of 24 shots. “They certainly need to make adjustments as they head to the locker room.”

Providence goaltender Hayden Hawkey made 30 saves, several of them outstanding. Dartmouth was 1-of-5 on the power play while allowing both a man-up tally and a shorthanded marker.

“We played 50-some minutes of excellent hockey, but they turned it on us in that second period,” Big Green coach Bob Gaudet said. “I liked our battle level and execution in the third period, when it could have been a tie game.”

Providence coach Nate Leaman said his team was too cute with the puck before finally dumping it behind Dartmouth’s defensemen, forcing them to turn and chase the rubber with Friars hot on their heels.

“We were trying to move the puck laterally and it was hitting skates and hitting sticks, and (Dartmouth) was transitioning against us, which they’re good at,” Leaman said. “Everyone was a little passive on where the puck was next going, but then we started skating north and on our toes.

“We got the puck in the (offensive) zone and, when we did, we were a load to handle.”

The night didn’t start well for Dartmouth, which surrendered the opening goal after 2 minutes, 32 seconds when Providence senior captain Kasper Bjorkqvist powered his way around Big Green defenseman Joey Matthews.

A second-round draft choice of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, Bjorkqvist skated from near the blue line and through the inner edge of the right circle before slipping a backhand shot into goaltender Adrian Clark’s pads. Jack Dugan charged from the left and shoved the puck home.

Dartmouth rallied 10 minutes later when Cam Strong swung out from behind the net to the left of Hawkey and swept a pass across the top of the crease. Alex Jasiek knocked the feed home for the Big Green’s first power-play goal since Nov. 3 and its first in its last 34 chances. Clark earned the play’s second assist.

The hosts increased their lead to 2-1 with four minutes remaining in the first period. Carl Hesler’s pass out of the right corner to Connor Yau at the top of the slot was turned into a quick wrist shot that beat Hawkey inside the left post.

Providence forged a 2-2 tie four minutes into the second period when Yau couldn’t handle a pass at the offensive blue line and Ryan Tait and John McDermott roared back the other way on a two-on-none break. Clark stopped McDermott’s initial shot, but Tait swept in the rebound for a shorthanded goal.

“We have to find a way to be better in that situation,” Gaudet said. “When something bad happens to us, we’ve got to focus on the next play and not have that lingering affect, but it’s human nature.”

Nine seconds later Providence’s Scott Conway hopped out of the penalty box, took a pass and cruised down the slot unguarded to beat Clark from almost point-blank range.

Dartmouth defenseman Brendan Demler was soon whistled for holding, firmly planting the Big Green on its collective heels. A minute later, Josh Wilkins barreled past two defenders on the right wing and slid a fabulous backhand pass to the far post, where Vimal Sukumaran scored the visitors’ third goal in as many shots.

The score moved to 5-2 with 12 minutes remaining in the second period when Conway struck again. Providence began the day 128-5-11 when leading after two periods during eight years under Leaman, who was previously the boss at Union.

Dartmouth closed the scoring with 87 seconds remaining when Quin Foreman fed a nifty backhand pass as he was spinning behind the net. The feed slid out front to Will Graber, who popped home his fourth goal.

“It wasn’t what we wanted, but it was a really good experience for our guys to play against a team of that caliber,” Gaudet said. “Hopefully, that experience will help us moving forward.”

The all-tournament team featured Providence skaters Conway, Josh Wilkins and Brandon Duhaime and goaltender Hawkey. Also on it were Dartmouth’s Hesler and Jasiek and Brown’s Joachim Weberg. Conway was honored as the event’s most valuable player.

Dartmouth plays its final nonconference game of the season on Saturday at Bentley University, where the 5-11-1 Falcons have a new on-campus arena. After that, it’s back to ECAC play with a Jan. 11-12 road trip to Quinnipiac and Princeton.

Notes: Brown beat Army, 5-3, during the day’s first game and improved to 3-7-3. Brendan Whittet, Brown’s 10th-year head coach and a former Dartmouth assistant for 11 seasons, is 87-177-52 overall, for a .275 winning percentage with the Bears. He is 54-112-31 in ECAC play, a .274 winning percentage. … Gaudet said next season’s other tournament participants will be Boston College, Colorado College and St. Lawrence. He said inviting teams to the event often results in them hosting the Big Green for a return engagement a year or two down the road. … Providence’s roster includes eight players drafted by the NHL. Dartmouth has not featured such a competitor since Dustin Walsh in 2013. Walsh is now a hockey operations analyst with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. … Clark had played 89 percent of Dartmouth’s goaltender game time entering Sunday. … Dartmouth’s scratches were defensemen Ben DiMaio and forwards Erik Urbank, Christian LeSueur, John Ernsting, Sam Hesler and Ryan Blankenmeier. The first three have yet to play this season. … Former Dartmouth assistant David Peters, now an amateur scout for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets and the deputy commissioner of the junior-level United States Premier Hockey League, attended the game. He coached at Connecticut’s South Kent School after leaving the Big Green in 2014. NHL scouts from the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche also took in Saturday’s contest.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.