Men’s hockey sweeps home opening weekend

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Dutchman goalie Jake Kupsky ’19 looks on at a defensive-zone faceoff in Union’s 5-2 win over Niagara on Oct. 22. Beejit Sarker | Concordiensis
Dutchman goalie Jake Kupsky ’19 looks on at a defensive-zone faceoff in Union’s 5-2 win over Niagara on Oct. 22. Beejit Sarker | Concordiensis

Mike Vecchione ’17 and the men’s hockey team had a memorable weekend in front of a heap of parents and alumni when they swept their home opening series against the Rochester Institute of Technology and Niagara University.

Vecchione had a weekend to remember, tallying six goals and eight points over the two games, pacing the Dutchmen offensively.

On Friday, Union opened their home schedule and kicked off Homecoming Weekend with a matchup against RIT. The game was scoreless through the first period of play before RIT’s Erik Brown tallied a score 25 seconds into the second period.

The Dutchmen didn’t take long to respond when Spencer Foo ’18 beat the RIT netminder from the bottom of the right circle with a wrister that tied the game at one. Brett Supinski ’19 facilitated the give-and-go and picked up an assist on Foo’s goal.

Just over four minutes later, Vecchione scored his first of the weekend when he corralled a loose puck in front of the net and jammed it past the Tiger goalie, giving Union a 2-1 lead.

The score held at 2-1 into the third period before Caleb Cameron capitalized on his own rebound opportunity, beating Union’s goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos ’17 to tie the game at two.

Shortly thereafter, Sebastian Vidmar ’19 scored the eventual game-winning goal when he redirected a point shot from J.C. Brassard ’18 over the shoulder of the Tiger goalie, giving Union the lead yet again.

Vecchione and Eli Lichtenwald ’17 added empty-net goals to put the game out of reach and the Dutchmen went on to win 5-2.

The Dutchmen outshot RIT 34-18 and scored three powerplay goals for the first time since March 7, 2015. Sakellaropoulos stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced.

The following day, Union hosted a late-afternoon matchup with Niagara. As has been the pattern to date so far this season, Jake Kupsky ’19 got the start in net in the weekend’s second game over Sakellaropoulos.

Vecchione, who would become the first Dutchmen to score four goals in a game since Kelly Zajac on October 9, 2010, scored twice in a 29-second span to give the Dutchmen an early 2-0 lead.

Vidmar, who collected a goal and three assists, made a diving effort to poke home a feed from Vecchione for Union’s third goal of the period.

The score held at 3-0 through the second period and into the third before Niagara’s Kris Spriggs got the Purple Eagles on the board on a backhander that beat Kupsky. Vecchione added a breakaway goal at 15:51 into the third to complete his hat-trick and restore a three-goal lead for the Dutchmen.

Derek Brown cut the lead to two again when he scored Niagara’s second goal of the game off of a rebound late in the third period. However, Vecchione added an empty-netter, his fourth goal of the game, to ice the score at 5-2.

Union peppered the Purple Eagles’ goaltender with 48 shots on net, and outshot Niagara 48-25. Kupsky saved 23 of the 25 shots he faced. The teams went a combined 0-for-16 on the powerplay, each failing to capitalize on eight opportunities.

The Dutchmen return to the ice and open conference play with a home-and-home series against crosstown rival Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this weekend. They will on the road Friday, but return to Messa Rink on Saturday, October 29, at 7 p.m.

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