By Evan Slavit
A lot has happened since our last issue. While I’m sure everyone is aware of what happened, indulge me for a second and let me quickly recap.
During the weekend before finals Union swept rival RPI in what many considered to be a close series. Since then, all their games have been single-eliminatio — and they haven’t lost.
First up was Colgate in an ECAC semi-final match in Atlantic City. Though the crowd was sparse, the majority of fans in the stands were part of the Union faithful. The game was a bit closer than the final 6-2 score indicates, but not by much.
The following night, Union faced Harvard after Harvard upset Cornell 6-1. While the game remained tied until the third, Union dominated Harvard, outshooting them, 27-10, after two periods. Harvard got on the board first on a one-timer off an odd man rush in the third, but less than a minute later Union responded.
Jeremy Welsh ‘13 got the goal for Union, racing through the neutral zone with defenders surrounding him. As he entered the offensive zone, he used one of the defenders as a screen, fitting the puck through the defender and goaltender’s legs. Union shut out Harvard the rest of the way, eventually winning 3-1.
The win secured the Whitelaw Cup for Union. This is the first time that Union has won the Whitelaw Cup. The closest they came before this was two years ago when they faced Cornell in the finals. They lost that game 3-0.
With both the Cleary Cup and the Whitelaw Cup in hand, the Dutchmen awaited its seeding for the national tournament. They were awarded one of the four 1-seeds (3rd overall) hosting the East Regional at Bridgeport, Connecticut. Their first matchup was against Michigan State, one of the five CCHA teams to make the national tournament. The tournament appearance was Michigan State’s first since 2007, where they lost 1-3 to Notre Dame.
Union started the scoring and never trailed in the game. They won 3-1, giving them their first ever D-I NCAA Tournament win.
The following night, Union faced another CCHA opponent, UMass-Lowell. UMass-Lowell upset Miami 4-3 (OT) the previous night. The appearance was their first since 1996, and a win would have given them their first Frozen Four appearance in history. As was the case with the game against Michigan State, Union scored first and never trailed in the game. They eventually won 4-2 to advance to the Frozen Four.
The Frozen Four appearance is Union’s first. The team they will be playing, Ferris State, is also playing in their first ever Frozen Four. Ferris State will be the third CCHA opponent Union has played in the tournament.
On the other side of the bracket, Boston College and the University of Minnesota advanced. Those teams combined have won nine national titles. On the other hand, Union and Ferris State only combine for a total of seven NCAA Tournament games. Needless to say, Boston College and Minnesota have a little more experience than Union and Ferris State.
As for the semifinal matchup, Ferris State, like Union, is a strong defensive team. They beat both their opponents in the regional 2-1. They rank fifth in the nation in total defense, and have the sixth best penalty kill. During the regular season they finished atop the CCHA, but were upset by Bowling Green in the first round of their conference playoffs.
Ferris State should be Union’s toughest test of the tournament, but, in the end, don’t be surprised if Union advances to play either Boston College or Minnesota for the title. The game will be on ESPNU on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. If Union wins, they will play again Saturday at 7 p.m. for the national title.