By Dan Greene
The Dutchmen knew that it would be a tough task to come out of their trip to Central New York with two wins because history was not on their side. The last time Union beat Colgate and Cornell on the road in the same weekend was in February 1998. The reason for this long losing streak is because both Colgate’s Starr Rink and Cornell’s Lynah Rink are tough buildings to play in, at least for the Dutchmen. Heading into this weekend the Dutchmen were 1-20-1 at Starr Rink, and 2-8-1 in their past 11 games at Lynah Rink. In all of college hockey, Lynah Rink is considered to be one of the toughest rinks to play and Union had not won there since February 2008.
But history changed this weekend as the Dutchmen swept Colgate and Cornell, 2-1 and 5-1, respectively.
On Friday night, Union would held on to beat the Raiders at Starr Rink for the first time since February 27, 1998 despite a poor effort. But the ability to pull out a win when you don’t play well is a sign of a good team.
Union got on the board first, thanks to a power-play goal from sophomore Wayne Simpson early in the second period. It was Wayne’s seventh goal of the season, six of which have come on the power-play.
Freshman Josh Jooris put Union up by two goals early in the final frame when he capitalized on a bad turnover by Colgate goaltender Eric Mihalik. In his first 24 collegiate games Jooris has accumulated 24 points.
Colgate’s Jack McNamara cut Union’s lead in half four minutes after Jooris’ goal, but sophomore goaltender Keith Kinkaid and the Union defense were able to hold on to the victory. Kinkaid’s 24-save performance was one of his best of the season.
Saturday’s game marked the first meeting between the Dutchmen and the Big Red since last year’s ECAC Championship game when Cornell beat Union 3-0 at the Times Union Center. Unfortunately for the Dutchmen, the game started the same way as a Joe Devin goal gave the Big Red a 1-0 lead after one period.
But, unlike the last meeting, Union struck back and tied the game thanks to a power-play goal from Daniel Carr ‘14, off of a feed from his classmate Kevin Sullivan, 6:20 into the middle period. Exactly 11 minutes later senior captain Brock Matheson picked the perfect time to score his first goal of the season to give his team the lead. After this uplifting goal from their captain, the Dutchmen never looked back.
Union dominated the third period as they outshot and outscored Cornell, 15-7 and 3-0, respectively. Carr tacked on his team, leading the ninth power-play goal and 14th overall early in the period, and Sullivan gave his team a comfortable lead a little over four minutes later with his second goal in as many weekends. Wayne Simpson sealed the victory with an empty net goal with 3:50 left in the game.
After four straight ECAC victories where they allowed a combined four goals, the Dutchmen now stand in second place in the ECAC standings behind Yale, are ranked 12th in the country, and most importantly tied for 12th with Boston University in the PairWise Rankings (PWR). If Union keeps up this pace it is very likely that they will make the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.
Union returns home this weekend when they host Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday. The game with the Big Green is especially important since Union is behind them in the PWR. Both games start at 7 p.m.