By Evan Slavit
With one step inside Messa Rink on Jan. 28, 2011, you could feel the energy. It was loud and the whole building was shaking. Scanning the crowd, you would have struggled to find a single person sitting in their chair. On the ice, Keith Kinkaid ‘11 was flailing across the net, trying to preserve Union’s 3-2 lead.
Then it happened. The clock reached zero and the buzzer rang. Union had just beaten Yale, the top ranked team in the nation. It was the first time Union had ever accomplished the feat, and propelled the Dutchmen to their first ever Cleary Cup.
Earlier in the season, the Dutchmen travelled to face Yale at Ingalls Rink. The results were not as encouraging. The Dutchmen were shut out 5-0. It was just another sign of how far this program still had to go, a year after making it to the ECAC Finals for the first time in school history.
So with a Cleary Cup and National Tournament appearance in hand, why is any of this important? Because it shows no matter how Yale is doing, a game against them just means a little bit more this year.
That much was obvious when talking to the Bulldogs after their 4-0 win at Messa Rink earlier this season. Yale forward Brian O’Neill and Head Coach Keith Allain were almost giddy when talking about their victory.
This weekend Union travelled back to Ingalls Rink for some revenge. Never an easy place to play, Union was ready for a fight.
Wayne Simpson ‘13 got the scoring started for the Dutchmen, but only about six minutes later the Bulldogs tied it back up. Then, with close to six minutes left in the period, Yale went on the power play. With consistently strong power play the past few years (ranked seventh this season), they looked to take the lead and take another win over the Dutchmen.
Daniel Carr ‘14 was having none of it. With assists from Jeremy Welsh ‘13 and Taylor Reid ‘12, Carr was able to knock in a shorthanded goal to give Union the 2-1 lead.
The penalty kill had a strong game overall, stopping all five of Yale’s power play attempts.
When the game ended, Union had emerged with a 3-1 victory. Yale might be struggling this season with an 8-9-2 record (5-6-1 ECAC), but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who did not think of that as a big win.
While the win was exciting, the weekend ended on a sour note. Riding a four-game winning streak, and trailing first-place Cornell by one point in the ECAC, Union squared off against Brown.
The first period ended with a 2-0 lead for the Dutchmen. Those were the last goals Union would score during the game, however, as the final score was a 3-2 victory for Brown.
The loss, coupled with Cornell’s tie, drops Union two points out of first. It was a tough pill to swallow, but not a detrimental blow.
There are nine games left in the season with six of those games at home. Cornell, the current ECAC leader, still has to play Union twice this season.
The race for the Cleary Cup begins now, and you can’t help but think that Union is in a good position to take home a second title.