By Evan Slavit
After two ties against Western Michigan, the Union College Men’s hockey team looked to get back into the win column with two games against teams in the Atlantic Conference, a conference that Union has compiled a 40-5-7 record against.
Unfortunately for the Dutchmen, their result on Friday was more reflective of their games against Western Michigan than it was of their dominance of the Atlantic Conference. Facing Niagra on Friday night, the Dutchmen could only pull out another tie.
Colin Stevens ‘15, the eighth ranked goalie recruit in the nation according to Inside College Hockey, started his first career game for the Dutchmen. He turned aside 27 of the 30 shots Niagra had, and impressed coach Rick Bennett with his performance.
“I thought we left him out to dry a lot,” Bennett told USCHO Arena reporter Tim Schmitt. “For your first game, in an environment like that, it’s tough, but he deserves to be in. I’m proud of him, he did a good job.”
Despite Stevens’ impressive performance, the Dutchmen were close to losing this game. With less than two minutes remaining in the contest, the Dutchmen trailed by one. Bennett decided to pull Stevens in favor of an extra skater, and Greg Coburn ‘13 managed to fire a shot from the point past the goaltender and into the net.
The second night was a different story. Similar to their performances last season, Union came out firing on all cylinders, and dropped RIT into a 4-0 hole before the end of the first period.
Most impressive about that period is the fact that Union converted all three of their power play opportunities. Overall, for the weekend, the Dutchmen managed to convert five of their 12 power play opportunities, which would give them a 41.6 percent success rate. To put that number in perspective, last season they finished with a success rate of 29.5 percent and that led the nation.
Also impressive for the Dutchmen is the fact that they killed all seven of RIT’s power play opportunities. That performance was highlighted by Troy Grosenick’s ‘14 first career shutout, as he stopped all 23 of RIT’s shots. The performance landed Grosenick his first ECAC goaltender of the week honors.
Other Dutchmen with standout performances included Kelly Zajac ‘12, Josh Jooris ‘14 and Jeremy Welsh ‘13, as each had two goals on the weekend.
Welsh was even close to his second hat trick in as many weekends, as a third potential goal bounced off the post in the game against RIT.
With the win and tie this weekend, Union moves back up to 11th in the nation.
This weekend the Dutchmen travel on Friday to play the University of New Hampshire, then return for Homecoming to face AIC at 7 p.m. in Messa Rink.