New Hampshire only has two Division I hockey teams. Those teams, Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire, are regular rivals, playing almost every year since 1962.
On Friday night, the Granite State rivals squared off at Thompson Arena in the first game of the Ledyard Bank Classic. Dartmouth came in looking for consecutive wins over the Wildcats for the first time since 1979-1980. New Hampshire wanted their first Ledyard Bank Title since 1986.
As soon as the game started, New Hampshire started a trend by taking a penalty. Marcus Vela took the first of eight UNH penalties on the game. Dartmouth did not make them pay on this infraction, but more chances would come.
Before the halfway mark of the period, Dartmouth had the puck with a delayed penalty call on. With an extra attacker, the Big Green scored on Matt Baker’s pinball shot.
After the goal, Richard Boyd sat for hooking. 1:32 into the ensuing power play, Matt Baker netted his second goal of the game. This one was on a smooth backhand and Dartmouth led their in-state rivals 2-0.
The Wildcats did not go quietly into the night. They outshot Dartmouth 16-9 in the opening frame and out-attempted the Big Green 28-16. Chris Miller netted a goal for UNH shortly before the intermission and UNH had life, down only 2-1.
UNH had a plethora of chances in the second period, but whiffed on some shots, missed the net on others, and found Devin Buffalo’s glove and pads on their successful shots. The senior netminder from Wetaskiwin, Alberta, made 10 of his 35 saves on the night. UNH also shot themselves in the foot with four-momentum killing penalties.
On the last one, a Jason Salvaggio cross-check, Quin Foreman scored his first collegiate goal and Dartmouth took a 3-1 lead late in the second period.
Dartmouth outshot UNH 11-10 in the final frame and controlled much of it. Danny Tirone made 11 of his 27 saves in the period and gave his team a chance to come back. Sadly, the Wildcats did not capitalize.
They had a late power play on Matt Baker’s incidental contact to the head penalty, but could not score on the advantage. Things got chippier late, as Dartmouth apparently scored an empty net goal. Charlie Kelleher wrapped up Brendan Demler at the blue line and forced Dartmouth into an offside before the puck went in.
Fans wanted a late hit call on Jason Salvaggio on the play as well, but the only penalty was a misconduct called against Daniel Warpecha for yelling and swearing at the officials.
After the dust settled, Dartmouth came up with the win, toppling their in-state rivals 3-1. UNH Head Coach Dick Umile was unhappy with the performance.
“We didn’t say disciplined. We took too many penalties and they made us pay.”
UNH falls to 9-8-1 on the season. The Wildcats will skate against Yale in the consolation game on Saturday. Puck drops at Thompson Arena at 4 pm.
The Big Green are playing their best hockey of the season. In consecutive games, they topped the reigning National Champion Denver Pioneers and 16th ranked New Hampshire. Matt Baker scored his first multi-goal game of his collegiate career and the Big Green have a chance to skate for a trophy on Saturday night.
“That Denver game was huge for our confidence,” Baker said after the game. “We know we can keep up with the best teams and match them. It’s gonna be tough skating against Duluth tomorrow, but we’re feeling good about it.”
Dartmouth’s record is 4-8-1 after the win. Puck drops at 7 pm at Thompson Arena for the Ledyard Bank Classic Title between Dartmouth and Duluth.