Morris, No. 10 Dartmouth knock off in-state rival No. 2 New Hampshire
HANOVER, N.H. -- In front of a sellout crowd of more than 4,500 at Thompson Arena Sunday night, No. 10 Dartmouth knocked off in-state rival No. 2 New Hampshire 4-1 in the second game of the 2012 Ledyard Classic.
The Big Green (8-2-2) will now play UMass on Monday at 7 p.m. for the Ledyard Championship. The Minutemen defeated Bemidji State 4-3 in a thrilling first game to add a fourth Hockey East team to the Big Green’s schedule in five overall contests.
The Beavers play New Hampshire at 4 p.m. in the consolation game.
Goaltender Cab Morris stopped a career-high 31 shots, including 15 in the final period to earn his fifth win of the season (5-1-1) and helped his team remain unbeaten at home at 7-0-0.
UNH (11-3-2) won the meeting between the two Granite State teams last season by the same score in Manchester, but was unable to match Dartmouth’s intense style for the full 60 minutes of action on this night in Hanover.
Freshmen Nick Bligh and Ryan Bullock got the home team off to a 2-0 lead with a pair of first-period goals. It was the first career tallies for both as each found space from the high slot to sneak low shots past Wildcat goaltender Casey DeSmith, a former teammate of Morris’ in juniors.
Bligh found the back of the net with a wrist shot 6:05 into the period, setting off an eruption from the packed house. The fans once again returned to their feet when Bullock’s blast from the point redirected in off a defender just over five minutes later, settling in the back of the goal.
UNH responded with an Austin Block goal just 46 seconds into the second period, finishing off a 2-on-1 break after a turnover at the blueline. That would be the lone puck Morris allowed behind him all night, turning in perhaps the best performance of his career.
Block’s marker would not go unanswered for long as Tyler Sikura knocked home a rebound on the power play to give the Green a 3-1 advantage and a little breathing room midway through the second.
Sikura’s eighth of the season snapped the Wildcats’ run of 36 consecutive penalties killed off, a figure Dartmouth is approaching after a 2-for-2 night playing down man. The Big Green have now gone 32 consecutive penalty kills without allowing a goal, a stretch that dates back to Nov. 2. Dartmouth still ranks as the best PK unit in the nation with a 97.6-percent success rate (41-42).
Sophomore Brandon McNally put the finishing touch on the night with an empty-net goal with 1:16 left, sealing the 4-1 victory.
New Hampshire had not been to Hanover and Thompson Arena since Dec. 29, 2000 when it fell 6-3 in the Ledyard Classic’s first game.