Led by Mike Vecchione ’17, the men’s hockey team is off to an excellent start this season. The senior captain has a remarkable 14 goals and 24 points through 11 games, enough to lead the nation in both categories.
The Saugus, MA, native also earned the Hockey Comissioners’ Association National Division I Player of the Month award for the month of October. Vecchione is the first Dutchmen to win the award since Daniel Ciampini ’15 did so in Feb. 2015.
Four of Vecchione’s goals came this past weekend, helping the Dutchmen earn wins over ECAC rivals Yale and Brown, 5-3 and 6-4, respectively, pushing their league record to a perfect 4-0-0.
On Friday, Yale jumped out a 2-0 first-period lead, with Adam Larkin striking twice on the power play in a span of just 36 seconds. Vecchione trimmed Yale’s lead on a beautiful shorthanded goal early in the second period, beating Yale goalie Patrick Spano with a slick deke before sliding the puck past him. Spencer Foo ’18 and Greg Campbell ’19 picked up the assists on the tally.
Special teams continued to play a huge role, as Jeff Taylor ’17 scored a power-play goal late in the period to cut Yale’s lead to 3-2 after Ted Hart had restored the Bulldogs’ two-goal advantage earlier in the period. Taylor’s slap shot from the point just snuck in below the crossbar, sending Spano’s water bottle flying.
After Luc Brown ’20 tied the game in the third period with his first collegiate goal, Vecchione gave the Dutchmen the lead with a little over four minutes left to play. Foo made a great play to set up Vecchione in the slot for his second assist of the game.
Vecchione then sealed the victory, and his hat trick, in the final seconds with an empty-netter while shorthanded. Alex Sakellaropoulos ’17, now 7-0-0, made a season-high 35 saves, including a few critical ones on the penalty kill late, to earn the win.
Sebastian Vidmar ’19, who along with Vecchione and Foo form a dominant top line for the Dutchmen, opened the scoring against Brown on Saturday with a power-play goal.
Foo doubled Union’s early lead with another power-play goal, firing a high wrist shot from inside the left face-off circle past Brown goalie Gavin Nieto with 1:15 left in the first period.
With the score 2-1 in the second period, Vecchione scored a spin-o-rama highlight reel goal, receiving a pass from Foo in front of the net, spinning 360 degrees and then finishing on his forehand while falling down.
Despite the dazzling effort from Vecchione the visiting Bears didn’t go away, ripping off three unanswered goals in the third period to stun the Dutchmen and take a 4-3 lead.
Less than two minutes after Brown took the lead, however, Eli Lichtenwald, ’17 cashed in on a big rebound off a shot by Ryan Burton ’20 to tie the game with 4:50 left. 50 seconds later, Cole Maier ’19 found the back of the net, sneaking the puck past Nieto following a scramble in front.
Maier capped off the Dutchmen’s dramatic victory by tallying an empty-netter with 21.6 seconds to play.
Union opened ECAC play with back-to-back wins over close rival Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute the weekend before.
The Dutchmen grabbed a comfortable 4-1 win on the road win over the Engineers on Oct. 28 thanks to goals by Ryan Scarfo ’18, Taylor, Vecchione and Maier.
Vecchione was the hero the next day, scoring the game winning goal 1:06 into overtime on a quick wrist shot from right inside RPI’s blue line. Lichtenwald and Scarfo scored the Dutchmen’s two goals during regulation in the 3-2 win.
Union dropped a non-league game to Holy Cross on Nov. 1, only its second defeat of the season. Vidmar scored twice, while Anthony Rinaldi ’20 and Foo each had a goal. Jake Kupsky ’19 made 29 saves in goal for the Dutchmen.
Union has another pair of ECAC games this weekend. St. Lawrence comes to Messa Rink Friday night, before Clarkson visits on Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m.