Men’s Hockey: Dutchmen stay on top of ECAC

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By Tommy Schaffer

With the season winding down, Union welcomed in the second and third place teams, Cornell and Colgate, to Messa Rink.  The Dutchmen are looking to claim their second straight Cleary Cup and a weekend sweep would go a long way to securing that.

Union finally climbed to first place in the ECAC standings the weekend before. They sported a total of 21 points, which was only 2 ahead of Cornell and 4 ahead of Colgate. Union climbed to first from the middle of the pack thanks to a 7-1-3 record in the last 11 conference games and 4-0-1 record at Messa Rink during that span. Last season Union had success against both teams, sweeping the season series against them. Cornell was coming off its only back-to-back losses of the season which were both to Colgate.

Things didn’t start out well for the Dutchmen.  With game time approaching, it became clear Troy Grosenick ‘14 couldn’t start and Colin Stevens ‘15 was going to make the start.

Grosenick has proved to be one of the top goalies in the nation this season. Last week he added another accolade to his resume, earning ECAC goalie of the month for January. Adding to the drama is the fact that last time Stevens played he failed to finish the game, getting pulled in a loss to Denver.

This weekend was a different story for him. He only let up one goal, his best outing of the season, in a 3-1 win against Colgate on Friday. Even more impressive, Stevens and the Dutchmen kept the nation’s top goal scorer, Austin Smith, off the scoreboard. This marked the first time the Dutchmen won when being outshot.

The next night, Stevens didn’t turn in as dominant of a performance. While he played well, he did let in four goals against Cornell. Luckily for Stevens, Kelly Zajac ‘12 had a night to remember. Zajac tallied three points on the night (1g 2a) in Union’s four-goal effort. Those two assists helped Zajac break the record for career assists that was previously held by Adam Presizniuk ’11. Overall Zajac had himself a four point weekend to increase his team-leading point total to 35 on the season.

Teammate Wayne Simpson added four points on the weekend as well with three goals and an assist giving the Dutchmen a huge lift. Simpson was awarded ECAC player of the week for his performance.

The Dutchmen’s special teams proved to be vital throughout the weekend. The Dutchmen’s power play went a total of 3 for 6 adding 2 against Cornell. The power play goal against Colgate enabled the Dutchmen to score the go-ahead goal which eventually was enough for the win. The two power play goals Saturday were a huge part of tying against Cornell. The penalty kill proved to be strong as well, going 4-for-4 on the weekend, helping Stevens hold his own in net.

The tie against Cornell allowed the Dutchmen to maintain their 3 point lead in the ECAC standings. With very few games left in the season, this was a big weekend for the Dutchmen when trying to maintain their place atop their conference.

Next weekend the Dutchmen only play one game, as they travel to play Dartmouth on Friday night.

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