By Chris Allen
In a sold out Messa Rink, the Dutchmen hockey team took the ice against the physical Bowling Green Falcons this past weekend.
The Dutchmen encountered a scary moment in the first period when there was a major collision in front of the net. Goaltender Colin Stevens ‘15 was injured on the play and forced to leave the game, which meant Alex Sakellaropoulos ‘17 entered the game. This was Sakellaropoulus’ first game for the Dutchmen and his first college hockey experience, although this was not evident as he played.
Eli Lichtenwald ‘17 helped his teammates out by scoring a power play goal, and Matt Hatch ‘14 added another goal at 18:45 into the first period.
Bowling Green came out energized in the second period and tied the game up with two goals in two minutes. Daniel Carr ‘14 was able to put the Dutchmen ahead with a power play goal, but five minutes later the Falcons responded with a power play goal of their own.
Finishing with a 3-3 tie, Kevin Sullivan ‘14 said, “I thought the team worked hard and executed our systems. Still, there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Captain Mat Bodie ‘14 added, “We faced some adversity with a few guys going down with injuries on Friday. Sak did a great job coming in cold on Friday night and played solid on Saturday.”
Sakellaropoulos, who is one of seven first-years on the roster, certainly came ready to play in Saturday night’s game. The first-year goaltender recorded 20 saves on 22 shots in his first career win.
A big part of Saturday’s 5-2 victory came thanks to Union’s special teams. Sullivan said, “I think our specialty team was better the second night, especially the power play and that has a lot to do with the coaching staff breaking down Bowling Green’s penalty kill.”
Many of the game’s power plays were due to the fact that Bowling Green is a physical team, as are most western conference teams. Hatch said, “Anytime you play against a physical team, you have to be able to adjust and capitalize. I think we did a good job keeping our heads and sticking with our game.”
It was evident before the puck dropped that both teams didn’t like each other. Cole Ikkala ‘14 and a Bowling Green forward were seen exchanging heated words as they made their way to center ice.
The Dutchmen were able to back their words with goals from Daniel Ciampini ‘15, Carr, Nick Cruice ‘16 and two goals from Michael Pontarelli ‘17. In response to the overall effort, Sullivan said, “In the second night, I thought our team played very well and was extremely focused. Every line was moving their feet and finishing hits, which is always a good sign.” Hatch added, “We did a lot of the little things right on Saturday that helped translate into a win.”
Next week, the Dutchmen will be taking on Lake Superior State of the WCHA (the same conference as Bowling Green). Bodie said, “Lake Superior State is a big, physical team. We’re expecting a game similar to what we saw from Bowling Green.”
Sullivan added, “They are a hard-working team that likes to play physical. We must be ready to play physical all weekend and move our feet with and without the puck in order to have success.”
Lake Superior will be entering Messa Rink with a 2-0 record after beating Robert Morris this past weekend, by a score of 3-1 in both games. Hopefully, Union will be able to finish the weekend with at least three more points because they are a more skilled team that can adapt to a physical game, as shown this past weekend versus Bowling Green.
The puck drops this Friday at 7 p.m., so come out and support the Dutchmen hockey team.