By Andrew Stinchfield
Union Men’s Hockey (17-12-5 overall, 10-8-4 ECAC Hockey) finished the weekend strong with two huge statement wins at home against North Country rivals St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
With the weekend sweep, the Dutchmen secured the No. 4 seed in the ECAC tournament and will have a first round bye where they will take on the winner of a first round series between No. 5 Dartmouth and No. 12 Harvard.
Union went into the weekend knowing they needed to win both games if they wanted to have any hope of earning a much-needed bye in the first round of the ECAC tournament.
On Friday night the team hosted St. Lawrence, where they came out of the gate energetic and full of life. Within the first five minutes of the game, the Dutchmen found themselves with a two-goal lead.
In the opening minute of the game, Josh Jooris ‘14 won a face-off back to defenseman Charlie Vasaturo ‘15, who fired a long, hard shot past St. Lawrence goalie Matt Weninger at :45 to put Union up 1-0.
The Dutchmen quickly added to their lead three minutes later when Matt Wilkins ‘16 sent a cross-ice pass to Matt Hatch ‘14 who blistered a shot over the shoulder of Weninger to extend Union’s lead to two. The Dutchmen completely dominated the Saints in the first period, where Union outshot them 17-5.
The team kept their momentum going in the second period, where forward Kyle Bodie ‘13 put home a rebound four minutes into the period to extend the team’s lead to three.
The Saints made the game interesting in the third period when Chris Martin scored on a breakaway to cut Union’s lead to 3-1. After the play, Troy Grosenick ‘14 left the game with a lower back injury and was replaced by backup goalie Colin Stevens ‘15.
Stevens played well, and Union’s offense was too much for the Saints. The team regained their three-goal lead a short time later, as Shane Gostisbehere ‘15 fed Mat Bodie ‘14 coming across the blue line. Bodie then ripped a slapshot past Weninger at 13:01 of the third period.
Wayne Simpson ‘13 sealed the deal with his team-leading 14th goal of the season, putting in his own rebound to give the Dutchmen a 4-1 victory. Union outshot St. Lawrence 46-20 for the night.
he Dutchmen entered into Saturday’s contest against Clarkson in a three-way tie with Dartmouth and St. Lawrence for the final first-round bye spot. To get the bye Union needed to beat Clarkson while the Saints and Big Green had to tie or lose to RPI and Quinnipiac, respectively. And apparently the hockey gods wanted Union to get that extra week of rest, because that is exactly what happened.
Clarkson came out hard in the first and tested Union early. However, Stevens, starting in goal, made a number of big saves to keep the contest scoreless.
The Dutchmen broke the tie late in the period on their first power play opportunity of the night. Gostisbehere fired a shot from the point that Simpson deflected between the pads of Clarkson goaltender Greg Lewis to put Union up 1-0 after one period of play.
Early in the second, Union extended their lead after Kevin Sullivan ‘14 notched his first goal of the game, putting in his own rebound at 5:27 to give the Dutchmen a two-goal advantage. Union outshot the Golden Knights 21-6 in the second period, but they still only held a dangerous two-goal lead going into the final period of play.
At 5:41, Clarkson forward Todd Christian was called for boarding and Union’s deadly power play was given an opportunity to extend the team’s lead. On the man advantage Sullivan scored his second goal of the night by pouncing on a rebound at 6:24 to put Union up 3-0.
Union sealed the win late in the third when Jooris skated in on a two-on-two and beat Lewis over the shoulder from the circle at 17:20. Forward Daniel Carr ‘14 picked up an assist on the play to give him 100 career points (52 goals, 48 assists). He is the 10th player in Union’s Division I history to reach the 100 career point milestone.
After the game, an on-ice ceremony honored the team’s six seniors: Kyle Bodie, Greg Coburn, Ryan Forgaard, Simpson, Shawn Stuart, and Manager Phil Cohn. With the weekend’s results, the pairings for the 2013 ECAC Men’s Hockey Tournament have been set.
The seeds are as follows: No. 1 Quinnipiac, No. 2 RPI, No. 3 Yale, No.4 Union, No.5 Dartmouth, No. 6 St. Lawrence, No. 7 Brown, No. 8 Princeton, No. 9 Cornell, No. 10 Clarkson, No. 11 Colgate and No. 12 Harvard. The top four seeds (Quinnipiac, RPI, Yale and Union) all receive first-round byes.
Union will play the winner of the Dartmouth versus Harvard series at home in a best-of-three games series Friday, March 15 through Sunday, March 17.