By Andrew Stinchfield
First Union would like to congratulate sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere who helped Team USA earn a gold medal in the 2013 World Junior Championships. Gostisbehere, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round, saw significant ice time for Team USA and recorded both a goal and an assist in six tournament games.
He returns home to a Union team that has struggled as of late. The Dutchmen, who started the season off strong with an 8-2-1 record, have only had two wins out of their last 10 games. The team is playing at a very competitive level, but they let other teams hang around and have lost a number of close games.
Most recently, the Dutchmen had two important ECAC league games last weekend. The first was a Friday night nationally televised match-up against Princeton, who is currently ranked second in the ECAC with 13 points.
The Dutchmen found themselves in a hole early on, when Princeton scored on its first shot in the opening minutes of the contest. Princeton forward Will MacDonald skated into the zone and beat Union goalie Troy Grosenick ‘14 with a low wrist shot at the :25 mark.
However, Union responded quickly on a five-on-three power play where forward Wayne Simpson ‘13 fed Kyle Bodie ‘13 in the slot who fired a shot to tie the contest at 1-1.
Union continued to dominate the game, outshooting the Tigers 23-8 in the opening period. After applying pressure in the Princeton zone, forward Daniel Carr ‘14 threw a puck towards the net, which deflected off the stick of sophomore forward Max Novak into the net to give Union a one goal lead.
The Dutchmen extended their lead to 3-1 after Carr skated from behind the Princeton net and beat Princeton goalie Sean Bonar with a wraparound.
The game would end in a 3-2 victory for the Dutchmen after Grosenick made a number of key saves in the final minutes of the game.
The following day the Dutchmen would have a huge game against No. 5 ranked Quinnipiac, who was on a 15-game winning streak and has yet to lose in ECAC play.
The game started in the Dutchmen’s favor and they were able to take an early lead. Simpson recorded his 100th career point with a first period power-play goal, when he blasted the puck over Quinnipiac goalie Eric Hartzell’s shoulder to put Union up by one.
Union added to its lead when the team capitalized on another power-play opportunity. Simpson set up the goal by firing a shot on net. The rebound fell right into the hands of sophomore forward Daniel Ciampini, who found Greg Coburn ‘13 open on the far side and put the puck away to give Union a 2-0 lead.
Neither team scored in the second period and it appeared Union was on its way to completing the upset. However, Quinnipiac had other plans. The Bobcats would go on to score three goals in the final frame of the game to hand Union a 3-2 deflating loss.
As tough as the loss was for Union, it shows that the team has the ability to play with the best in the country. They led against a team that has been red hot over the last few weeks. While it did not end in their favor, they should look at the results in a positive light.
“It was a tough loss. Everyone in the locker room had their heads down for awhile,” said junior forward Kevin Sullivan. “But we need to learn from our mistakes. We need to look back at that game and use it as motivation for our upcoming ones. Second place in the ECAC is up for any team to take. Princeton has 13 points right now and we are right behind them with 11. We just have to take it game by game.”
Union is about to enter into the meat of their ECAC schedule, where they are currently tied for third in the league with 11 points. They have not played a home game in over a month and are definitely looking forward to returning to Messa Rink this weekend when they host nationally-ranked Cornell (7-6-2) Friday and Colgate (11-7-2) Saturday.