By Katie Adams
The Union Men’s Hockey team took the ice against rivals RPI in a two-game series last weekend. Unfortunately for the Dutchmen, both games went in RPI’s favor.
Friday night, the Dutchmen ventured over to Troy for both teams’ ECAC season opener.
RPI took the lead fast, and the Dutchmen were unable to bounce back, resulting in a 6-1 win for RPI. This was the Dutchmen’s toughest loss since their 5-0 defeat to Yale in 2010.
RPI put away two goals in the first period, with two more following in the second.
Union was able to put one goal up early on in the third period, with Mike Vecchione ’17 scoring on a power play. This was Vecchione’s fifth goal of the season, keeping his point streak going on to an impressive seven games.
“My goal was a simple shot through traffic that found a way in on the power play. I was hoping it would give us some momentum to make a potential comeback, but they scored less than 10 seconds later to counter our momentum,” Vecchione stated.
Just as Vecchione said, RPI recovered fast, with two goals coming in directly after Union’s solitary goal of the game, solidifying RPI’s win over the Dutchmen.
The rivalry continued on Saturday night in Schenectady, in the Dutchmen’s Messa Rink.
With Friday night in mind, the Dutchmen had hoped to bounce back and make up for the previous night’s loss. This goal, unfortunately, was not achieved.
After a long, hard-fought game, Union came out with another loss against RPI; however, this proved to be a much closer game than that of the night before.
Union led the game 1-0 for a majority of the game, with Spencer Foo ’18 scoring from the faceoff circle in the first period. This was Foo’s fourth goal of the season.
The Dutchmen lost hold of the lead when RPI’s Mark McGowan finished a one-timer with 6:40 left in regulation play, forcing the rivals to head into a heated overtime.
At 2:41 into overtime, RPI’s Viktor Liljegren took three close shots into the pads of goaltender Colin Stevens ’15, with Liljegren’s third shot eventually going in.
While the goal was seen as somewhat questionable, after a video review, officials confirmed the goal, giving RPI the win over the Dutchmen.
Union may not have taken the win, but they did finish the game with a 35-27 shot advantage and successfully went the entire game without one penalty.
The Dutchmen certainly did not come out of this weekend with the results they were looking for, as Union Head Coach Rick Bennett explained: “It was a tough weekend after losing two games to our biggest rival. It is, however, a long season, and we look to learn from our game experiences.”
This is only a minor bump in the National Champions’ long journey ahead, as last weekend marked just the first two games in the team’s ECAC schedule this season.
This weekend brings the Dutchmen’s record to 5-3, 0-2 in the ECAC, and the Dutchmen have plenty of time to bounce back.
The Dutchmen started out their season with a winning streak that ended with the team’s 2-3 loss against St. Cloud State on Oct. 25.
While their conference opener wasn’t their best, the Dutchmen still have acquired a good number of wins overall thus far, proving that they have what it takes to bring home more wins this season.
This weekend, Union will host Dartmouth on Friday, followed by Harvard on Saturday.
“We have two very tough opponents coming up. It will be another exciting challenge,” Bennett explained.
Mike Vecchione also touched upon this upcoming weekend: “We are looking to get back on the right path and win both games. We are trying to build off a Saturday’s hard work and discipline and hope for a better result.”
Hopefully, these games will be more in the Dutchmen’s favor. The next two weekends’ games will be played in Messa Rink at Achilles Center.
The Dutchmen will be keeping last weekend in mind, but also moving forward and using their lost games as learning experiences.