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December 30. 2012 10:35PM

Dartmouth skaters knock off No. 2 UNH, 4-1

HANOVER - The University of New Hampshire hockey team may opt to stay away from Dartmouth's holiday tournament for another dozen years.

The Wildcats last ventured up I-89 for the event 12 years ago and the result then was much the same as it was on Sunday night.

The No. 10-ranked Big Green knocked off No. 2 UNH, 4-1, last night in front of a sellout crowd of 4,500 at Thompson Arena to advance to the championship game of the 2012 Ledyard Classic tonight against Massachusetts.

UNH fell to 11-3-2 on the season with its second straight loss. The Wildcats dropped a 3-2 decision to Boston University in the game before its holiday break.

UNH plays Bemidji State in the consolation game today at 4.

Dartmouth, 8-2-2, plays UMass at 7 tonight for the Ledyard title.

Massachusetts knocked off Bemidji State, 4-3, to earn its spot in the championship game.

The Minutemen improved to 6-9-2 with the win.

"The biggest thing that we talked about coming into this was we want to win a championship," said UMass coach John Micheletto. "That's a skill that you need to learn if you want to be in the mix at the end of the season."

Bemidji, which led 2-0 after a period, fell to 5-9-3.

Dartmouth junior Cab Morris made 31 saves for the win.

Casey DeSmith, a UNH sophomore from Rochester, had 27 saves.

This was UNH's first appearance in Hanover and at the Dartmouth tournament since Dec. 29, 2000. The Wildcats lost that game, also a first-round contest, 6-2.

The Big Green came out flying to start the game and jumped in front with a pair of first-period goals.

Freshman forward Nick Bligh scored the first with a shot from the top of the left circle that broke through DeSmith's pads.

Ryan Bullock, a freshman defenseman, made it 2-0 when his shot from out front deflected off a UNH defender in front and past DeSmith.

It was the first collegiate goal for both Bligh and Bullock.

UNH got one back just 46 seconds into the second period. Sophomore Grayson Downing stole the puck at mid-ice and worked a give-and-go with senior Austin Block. Block jammed the puck past Morris for his 10th goal of the season.

Dartmouth answered with a power play goal from Tyler Sikura at 12:19 of the period and the lead was back up to two goals. A Nick Sorkin penalty for roughing set up the power play.

DeSmith stopped Andy Simpson's shot from the point, but the rebound sat in the crease and Sikura charged the net and knocked it in.

It was the first power play goal allowed by the Wildcats since Nov. 2. They had killed off 36 straight penalties, including two on Sunday night before the call on Sorkin.

UNH had 14 shots in the third period, but Dartmouth had the only goal, an empty-netter in the final minute from Brandon McNally with DeSmith pulled for an extra attacker..

______


Massachusetts rallied from a 2-0 deficit early and then survived a Bemidji extra attacker goal late and held on for the win and its spot in the title game. . . .UMass was the last team to score a power play goal against UNH and did it in overtime to finish off a 2-1 triumph in that Nov. 2 game in Amherst.

alessels@unionleader.com

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