By Tommy Schaffer
This past Friday, the 18th ranked Union Men’s Ice Hockey team (13-8-5 overall, 6-4-4 ECAC) took on 16th ranked Dartmouth (11-7-3 overall, 7-5-2 ECAC) at Messa Rink. Over the past three seasons, Union has played six games on national television, but this past Friday marked the first live nationally-televised broadcast from Messa Rink. Messa Rink had a playoff-like atmosphere as there was an electric, sellout crowd of 2,271 fans.
Both Union and Dartmouth were tied for third in the ECAC. The last time these two teams faced each other, the Dutchmen fell behind 3-0 early. Two late goals from junior forwards Daniel Carr and Matt Hatch pulled them within one goal late in the game, but were not enough because the contest ended 3-2 in favor of Dartmouth.
Coming into this game Union boasted the second-ranked penalty kill in the country (93 for 102, 91.2 percent) which had not allowed more than one goal on the penalty kill in a game.
However, this was the weak spot for the Dutchmen on Friday night, since the penalty kill allowed both of Dartmouth’s goals in the 2-2 tie.
Union got the scoring started when junior Kevin Sullivan broke the 0-0 tie in the second period with a goal in front of the net. Hatch fed Sullivan with a pass from behind the net to assist the goal.
Dartmouth would come back with a goal from Eric Neiley after senior forward Kyle Bodie took a penalty for tripping. The goal was scored only five seconds into the power play as Neiley received a pass from Ryan Bullock on the left circle. Neiley fired a shot that beat Union’s goalie Troy Grosenick ‘14 over his left shoulder.
Union later answered in the period with a power play goal from junior defensemen Mat Bodie. Freshman Matt Wilkins fed Bodie from the side boards, and Bodie fired the shot through heavy traffic into the top corner of the net.
The Dutchmen took a 2-1 lead going into the final period; however, the Big Green would score with about five minutes left in regulation. After a bad tripping penalty by sophomore Daniel Ciampini, Dartmouth capitalized on the power play with a goal by Rick Pinkston. Regulation would end, sending this game into overtime.
Both teams had yet to post a win in overtime, with Union posting a 0-0-4 record and Dartmouth was 0-1-2 before this end of this game.
Union had a great opportunity when Dartmouth’s Eric Robinson was called for elbowing only 20 seconds into the overtime period. However, Union did not get the chance they would have liked, when the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Union out shot Dartmouth with a 39-26 advantage in the game. Dartmouth’s goalie Cab Morris recorded a career-high 37 shots while Grosenick stopped 24.
With eight games left in the season, Union stays tied for third with Dartmouth with 16 points in the ECAC standings. Quinnipiac leads the ECAC with 26 points, followed by Yale with 19. Union lost both contests against Quinnipiac this season and tied their only game with Yale.
Union hits the road this weekend against Clarkson and St. Lawrence, both of which are ECAC games. Union was very successful against both these teams last year winning with a combined score of 16-3. Union has yet to play either of these teams this season, but both teams trail Union in the ECAC standings.
St. Lawrence currently is one spot behind Union in fourth with 14 points and Clarkson is tied for fifth with five other teams with 13 points.
The Dutchmen are hoping to have much of the same success as last season, while they wind down the last month of the regular season.