Hanover, NH — Holiday Tournaments are a fun feature of the college hockey schedule. Among the most respected and longest running, the Ledyard Bank Classic has brought teams to Hanover, New Hampshire, since 1978. Originally the Auld Lang Syne Tournament, the Ledyard Bank Classic has featured talent from Martin St. Louis, to Norm Bazin’s recent Lowell Riverhawks, to last year’s champion Minnesota-Duluth. Let’s take a look at how the matchups shake out this year at Thompson Arena.
Schedule: This tournament has a fixed schedule for both days.
Providence (9-4-3) vs Brown (2-6-3) 4 pm
Rhode Island’s two DI programs travel 180 miles north to face each other two weeks before the Mayors Cup. These teams and programs are familiar with each other and share plenty of history. Both also have some recent history in this tournament. Brown last appeared in the 2014 edition and Providence in 2013. The coaches and staffs know how to manage a trip to this building and tournament. PC’s Jay O’Brien is the only player on either roster away for the World Juniors, but the Friars still have plenty of talent to be counted as the favorite.
Nate Leaman’s squad is 10th in goals scored per game and 4th in goals allowed per game. Jack Dugan, Kasper Bjorkqvist, and Brandon Duhaime are all NHL draft picks up front and Jacob Bryson is a wicked blue liner. Hayden Hawkey has been hit or miss this season in net, but he’s likely the most talented goalie this weekend.
Brown, meanwhile, is a middle-of-the-pack defensive team, but a bottom-10 offensive team in the nation. Gavin Nieto and Luke Kanie have split time in the net and are hovering around .900 save percentages. For the Bears to win, they need talented freshmen Justin Jallen and Tristan Crozier to spark some needed offense. Otherwise, Providence is the favorite for this game.
Army (8-8-1) vs Dartmouth (4-6-1) 7 pm
The Black Knights are facing the Big Green for only the third time this millennium and the second time in three seasons. The last time was at Thompson in the 2016 edition of the LBC. This season, the Knights and Green are among the most curious teams in the sport. Dartmouth was picked as a potential ECAC upset team in the preseason and they currently sit at third in their conference. They just haven’t won a non-conference game yet. Partly, the Big Green have the second worst penalty kill in college and a bottom-10 defensive output. How have they gotten up the ECAC standings? Opportunistic offense and money play by Adrian Clark. He’s recorded 31+ saves three times this season and backed up a blue line that’s figuring itself out. Dartmouth’s attack is about middle of the pack in the nation, but they’ve had huge showings. They potted seven on Harvard, and maximized chances against Yale, Cornell and Princeton. They play well at home and will be a tough out.
As for the Black Knights, they’ve had a weird year. They struggled against the top teams they faced, namely a pair of losses to Air Force, a road loss to Union, and splits with Canisius, Niagra, and Sacred Heart. Still, Army rallied for a .500 record behind their conference’s third best defense and fourth best offense. Dalton MacAffee is averaging a point-per-game from the blue line and anchors the nation’s third most efficient power play. Zach Evancho and Dominic Franco are also prominent offensive pieces to watch. Unfortunately, Army’s goaltending has been suspect. Trevin Kozlowski and Jared Dempsey have split time in the nets. Kozlowski’s save percentage is hovering at .917 while Dempsey’s is at .893. It’s likely that Kozlowski will get the starts this weekend, but he’ll have a tough task considering the road atmosphere in Hanover. I think Dartmouth is the favorite.
4 pm: Brown vs Army
7 pm: Providence vs Dartmouth.
The biggest downside of a set tournament schedule is that the last game very well might not be a proper championship game. Still, Dartmouth plays well at home and Providence is the best team in this tournament. The early game is still worth checking out, but the evening will be the main event. I think Sunday’s finale will be a championship game and Providence will get a needed win.