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UMass Edges No. 8 Dartmouth for Ledyard Classic Title, 3-2

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By Mark Washburn

HANOVER, N.H. - In a game dominated by penalties, it was a power-play goal 15 seconds into the third period from UMass' Branden Gracel that won the 2012 Ledyard Classic, 3-2, for the Minutemen over the No. 8 Dartmouth men's hockey team.

The Big Green dropped to 8-3-2 with the one-goal defeat, while Massachusetts improves to 7-9-2. The loss was also the first at home in eight games for the Big Green (7-1-0) in 2012-13.

In all, 23 penalties were called, totaling 87 minutes. That figure included two game misconducts (one aside), three five-minute majors and four 10-minute misconducts. Hefty figures considering both teams ranked in the bottom five in the nation in penalties entering the night.

The Minutemen solved the stellar Dartmouth penalty kill, the best in the nation coming into the match-up, with one in the first and again early in the third that proved to be the winner. Overall, UMass was 2-for-11 on the power play, while the home team was 0-for-4 with the man-advantage.

Sophomore Brett Patterson did, however, score a shorthanded goal 9:50 into the first to tie the game at 1-1 after Conor Sheary had given the visitors an early one-goal lead.

A beautiful wrist shot from Dustin Walsh at the right faceoff dot found space under the crossbar just 1:23 after Patterson's second of the year to give Dartmouth a 2-1 lead, its first and only advantage of the game.

Walsh was hit into the boards, but managed to regroup, corral the puck and find space over the shoulder of Kevin Boyle in the UMass goal.

Ironically enough, it was a shorthanded goal from Eddie Olczyk at 9:50 of the second period that tied the game at 2-2 and set up Gracel for his late-game herorics.

Cab Morris did all he could in the Dartmouth crease to give his team a chance at the victory, stopping 26 on the night and 57 on the weekend. At the other end, Boyle also turned aside 26 Dartmouth shots, earning Goaltender of the Tournament honors in the process for his two wins.

Gracel was named the tournament MVP, while Mike Keenan and Tyler Sikura represented the Green and White on the all-tournament team. Dartmouth's last win in its holiday tournament remains back in 2008 after suffering its second straight heartbreaking loss in the championship game this year.

The Big Green will return to ECAC Hockey action on Friday with a road tilt at No. 5 Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn. The contest between the league's two top teams in the standings will be aired live on NESN with game time set for 7 p.m.

Brance Orban, Bemidji State
Austin Block, New Hampshire
Mike Keenan, Dartmouth
Tyler Sikura, Dartmouth
Eddie Olczyk, UMass
Kevin Boyle, UMass (Top Goaltender)

MVP - Branden Gracell, UMass