HANOVER, N.H. — Talk is cheap, but it’s also proving invaluable for Dartmouth.
Making a concerted effort to increase their communication level, the 20th-ranked Big Green claimed the championship of their own Ledyard National Bank Classic last night with a 4-2 win over Bemidji State at Thompson Arena. Four different Dartmouth skaters scored and 11 contributed a point as the Big Green (8-4-0) won their own tourney for the first time since 2004.
The Big Green never trailed and essentially clinched the game on goals a shade over a minute apart from Matt Reber late in the second stanza and Josh Gillam early in the third.
“We’re trying to get that out of them,” Big Green coach Bob Gaudet said. “It’s such a huge part. When we don’t have that during practices, where we really hone this stuff, we try to stop things and make them be vocal. … I think they’re getting comfortable with each other in their communicating. We just want to try to keep things positive.”
Jody O’Neill stopped 25 shots for the victory. O’Neill joined teammates Connor Shields, Connor Goggin and MVP Kyle Reeds on the all-tournament team. Reeds earned top honors for his two shorthanded goals in Sunday’s 5-4 overtime defeat of Army; he also started the play that led to Reber’s eventual game-winning goal against the Beavers (8-8-0).
“Obviously, right now, it’s a little bit of a bitter pill, but we also lost to a better team, too,” Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. “They’re a quick team, a skilled team, they’re a big team. I really like their team.”
Shields got Dartmouth started by one-timing a Nick Walsh pass to cap a two-on-one at 11:34 of the first period. Goggin doubled his lead with a cannon of a slap shot that beat BSU netminder Matt Dalton (21 saves) on the power play at 8:28 of the second.
The Beavers’ Matt Francis chipped home a Brandon Marino feed on the man-up just 41/2 minutes later. Reber and Gillam put the game out of reach, Reber finished a crease-edge pass from Troy Mattila at 19:21 of the second and Gillam at the tail end of a fine three-on-two counter with Scott Fleming and Joe Gaudet 22 seconds into the third period.
Bemidji pounded O’Neill with 13 shots in the final stanza, but defender Brad Hunt’s extra-attacker goal with 2:56 to play was all the visitors would manage.
Massachusetts beat Army in yesterday’s consolation game, 4-1. The Minutemen’s Cory Quirk doing the Dartmouth quartet and BSU’s Marino and Cody Bostock on the all-tournament team.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.