Men’s hockey has ups, downs in winter break play

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The Union Men’s Hockey team celebrate an early-season victory on home ice. The Dutchmen maintained a seven-game winning streak over winter break, up until they faced No. 1 ranked Quinnipiac on Jan. 7, losing 5-0. (Anna Klug | Concordiensis)

When the Union community departed for winter break, the men’s hockey team was coming off of a weekend that saw them lose back-to-back overtime heartbreakers to a pair of ECAC teams, Brown and Yale.

Up to that point in the season, the Dutchmen had recorded just three wins in 12 games, and had gone just 1-5 against fellow ECAC members.

With two weeks off before their next game, and finals week sandwiched in the middle of their time off, players got a chance to get away from the game for a bit.

The break seemed to do the team some good, as they came out of it firing, starting off with a dominant road performance in a 4-0 shutout victory over Merrimack, a team that had only lost once all season before taking on the Dutchmen.

The team then returned to Messa Rink the following week and picked up right where they left off, earning a 4-4 tie against a Harvard team that features arguably the best player in the country, Jimmy Vesey.

The team followed up their strong showing against Harvard with a 3-0 victory over Dartmouth.

The Dutchmen had two more games left before their holiday break in December. First, the Dutchmen took on the University of Massachusetts. Despite the challenger’s 3-1 lead in the third period, Union came back with a 4-3 victory in overtime thanks to a game-winner from Sebastian Vidmar ’19.

The next week it was Union with the comeback, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 3-2 overtime victory over Vermont, pushing their unbeaten streak to five consecutive games. This time it was Spencer Foo ’18 coming through with an unassisted game-winner in overtime.

Union looked to carry their momentum into the 27th annual Ledyard Classic, hosted by Dartmouth.

Their first game was a rematch with Merrimack in the first round of the four-team tournament, and again, the Dutchmen disposed of the Warriors, this time by a final score of 3-2.

The team then faced off against Robert Morris in the championship; despite surrendering a pair of shorthanded goals, Union prevailed 5-4, highlighted by two-goal performances from both Foo and Sebastien Gingras ’16.

This victory extended the team’s unbeaten streak to seven games, which spanned over the entirety of winter break.

Playing their best hockey all year, the Dutchmen returned from their short winter break to face their toughest challenge of the year, a match-up against the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Quinnipiac, which entered the game with just one loss in 21 games.

The Dutchmen were not up to the task this time around, perhaps outmatched by a Quinnipiac team that has dominated just about every game they have played this season. The game got ugly and scrappy, with the Bobcats earning a 5-0 shutout victory, and the teams combining for 64 penalty minutes.

The following night, the Dutchmen again had a letdown performance against lowly Princeton, earning a 4-4 tie against a team that has only four wins on the year.

The Dutchmen now enter their most important stretch of the season, with exclusively ECAC games left on the schedule, including a showdown with RPI set for Jan. 23 in the fourth annual Capital District Mayor’s Cup.

The team’s record currently stands at 9-7-5 overall, and 2-6-2 in conference play.

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