By Dan Greene
Over the past few seasons, the men’s hockey team has accomplished many team and individual feats. Just last season the Dutchmen went to their first ECAC Final Four and Championship game, and had Jason Walters ‘10 break Union’s Division I record for most points in a career with 115. While these great accomplishments came at the end of the season, three Union D-I records were broken in the opening weekend of the 2010-2011 season. On Friday night, freshman Josh Jooris became the first Dutchman to score a hat trick in their first collegiate game in a 9-0 romp over Sacred Heart, and on Saturday night, junior Kelly Zajac scored four goals while linemate Adam Presizniuk ‘11 tallied five assists in a 7-3 win against Sacred Heart; both of these are Union D-I records.
Jooris, Carr, and Welsh started their assault midway through the first period when Jooris scored his first career goal. Welsh began the play when he caused a turnover at the Sacred Heart blueline, and then fed the puck to Carr at the right circle, who fired a slap shot on goal. Sacred Heart goaltender Steven Legatto was able to stick out his left pad, but the puck slid back to Carr to the right of the net. Carr slipped the puck to Jooris, who knocked it into the net to give his team a two goal lead.
“Welsh and Josh had great games,” Carr said. “They made it easy for me to get the puck.”
Jooris scored his second goal of the night on the power-play with a little over four minutes left in the middle frame when he tipped a turnaround shot by Carr from in between the top of the left circle and the hash marks.
In the third period, Jooris, Carr, and Welsh scored goals for the Dutchmen. Welsh scored his first of the season just 42 seconds into the period, assisted by Carr. Just a little less than five minutes later, Welsh returned the favor as he assisted on Carr’s first career goal.
Union’s ninth and final goal completed Jooris’ hat trick, and was his prettiest goal of the night. The play began when senior captain Brock Matheson picked off a Pioneer pass at the redline and passed the puck to a flying Jooris at the blueline. Jooris beat his defender with a stutter-move and flipped the puck into the net while on his knees for a beautiful semi-breakaway goal.
“I just tried to take it to the net,” said the son of the former RPI forward Mark Jooris. “I don’t know how it got in, but it did.”
The following night it was the veterans’ turn to do the scoring as the duo of Zajac and Presizniuk combined for four goals and five assists. While Jooris and Carr’s performance was a surprise to Union fans, Zajac and Presizniuk’s was not as they are the top two returning scorers from last year’s team.
After Welsh scored his second goal in as many nights, Zajac gave his team a two goal lead on a one-time goal that was assisted by freshman Mat Bodie.
Shortly after, Sacred Heart’s returning leading scorer Patrick Knowlton cut the lead in half, Zajac responded with a power-play goal just 1:55 later. Presizniuk picked up the secondary assist on the play, which was his 100th career point. He is the sixth Union Division I player to reach 100 career points.
The Pioneers would eventually tie the game 3:21 into the second period, but Zajac would once again respond for a power-play goal less than minute after Sacred Heart tied the game on a slapshot from inside the faceoff circle. This would be the backbreaker for the Pioneers as Union ran away with the game from this point.
Sophomore defenseman Greg Coburn scored a goal shortly after Zajac’s hat trick. Wayne Simpson would give Union some breathing room midway through the final period before Zajac and Presizniuk made school history when Presizniuk tallied his fifth assist on Zajac’s fourth goal with 3:02 left in regulation.
‘We needed all four,” Coach Leaman told the Daily Gazette’s Ken Schott. “That was the separation in the game. I thought [Zajac] played well. He had a special stick tonight. Everything he touched was golden.”
This was an amazing way for the Dutchmen to start the season. It was great beating up on their opponent, but breaking three Union D-I records made it that much sweeter. The Dutchmen were rewarded in the polls this past Monday as they moved up three spots to #16 in the USCHO national poll. Hopefully this historic weekend will just be the beginning of another historic season for Union.
This upcoming weekend the Dutchmen will travel all the way to Alaska to participate in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush. Both of their games will technically take place on Saturday, as the game against the University of Alaska-Fairbanks will start at 12:05am EST, which is then followed with a game against the University of Alaska-Anchorage at 8:05 p.m. EST.