Union back in ECAC Hockey semifinals
SCHENECTADY Left winger Kevin Sullivan scored the first and last goals, and center Kyle Bodie and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere scored just over two minutes apart early in the second period.
That adds up to another trip to Atlantic City, N.J., for the Union Dutchmen.
The defending ECAC Hockey tournament champion Dutchmen punched their ticket for next weekend’s championship round with a 5-2 victory over Dartmouth in Game 2 of their quarterfinal series Saturday night at Messa Rink.
The fourth-seeded and 19th-ranked Dutchmen (19-12-5) swept the best-of-three series, 2-0. They will play in the semifinals Friday at Boardwalk Hall, but won’t know their opponent until later tonight, because there are two Game 3s to be played. Top-seeded Quinnipiac faces ninth-seeded Cornell, and second-seeded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute takes on seventh-seeded Brown.
The Dutchmen will make their third trip to the championship round in four years. They lost the 2010 final to Cornell. Last year, they beat Colgate in the semifinals, and Harvard in the final to earn their first tournament title.
In a season that has seen some inconsistent play from the Dutchmen, Union coach Rick Bennett was happy to get the series done in two games.
“It was nice,” Bennett said. “I was thinking about it today, the fact that we wanted just to tell those seniors that they were the first team to get to our league [final] four in back-to-back seasons. That’s something they should be proud of.
“There’s been some ups and downs. But I tell you what, it seems like every article that comes out always starts out that Union is having an up-and-down season. But we still have 19 wins. To me, that’s a heck of a season.”
Looking to continue the momentum of Friday’s 4-1 Game 1 win, Union struck quickly in Game 2.
Max Novak forced a turnover in the Dartmouth left-wing corner by getting a piece of a clearing attempt. Matt Hatch got the puck in the left circle, and he hit Sullivan streaking down the slot. Sullivan one-timed Hatch’s pass past goalie Charles Grant 1:32 into the first period.
“The first goal was all Matt Hatch,” Sullivan said. “It was a great forecheck by him. I got a good a piece of it on the one-timer. It was a great feed by him.”
Sullivan sealed the win when he scored on the power play with one minute left in the game.
“[Daniel] Carr took a one-timer, and I think his stick broke,” Sullivan said. “He whiffed in it, which is pretty rare. I just got a lucky tip.”
Bodie made it 2-0 2:37 into the second period. His initial shot from the slot was blocked, but the puck came right back to him. Bodie rifled it past Grant’s right pad.
“Quite honestly, I don’t even know how the puck ended up in the slot there,” Bodie said. “Yes, that first one got blocked. It landed flat. I just got it on net. There was probably two or three of our guys alone in front of the net. It kind of had eyes, and found its way through.”
Gostisbehere made it 3-0 2:10 later when his wicked wrist shot from the left circle beat Grant, whose was replaced by Cab Morris after the goal.
Gaudet was impressed.
“The goal that 14 [Gostisbehere] scored, I don’t think any goalie has that puck, not at the college level,” Gaudet said. “It’s a great play. When they wheel around, they are a very good team.”
There were some anxious moments for the Dutchmen.
The fifth-seeded Big Green (15-14-5) had the better of the play in the second half of the first two periods. They got a short-handed goal from Eric Neiley midway through the second.
“The hardest thing in any sport is ending a team’s season,” Bodie said. “We knew they were going to have stretches where they carried the play. We just knew that when that happened, we just had to buckle down, defensively.”
Late in the third period and with Union up, 4-1, Gostisbehere was circling around in his own end when Dustin Walsh stripped him of the puck and scored.
“It was a bad play by me, but it doesn’t matter,” Gostisbehere said. “We won.”
Dartmouth 0 1 1 — 2
Union 1 2 2 — 5
First Period — 1, Union, Sullivan 4 (Hatch, Novak), 1:32. Penalties — None.
Second Period — 2, Union, K. Bodie 9 (Ciampini), 2:37. 3, Union, Gostisbehere 7 (Sullivan, Coburn), 4:47. 4, Dartmouth, Neiley 8, 9:20 (sh). Penalties — Walsh, Dart (tripping), 8:30; M. Bodie, Uni (interference), 12:15; Pinkston, Dart (hooking), 15:48; Carr. Uni (roughing), 20:00.
Third Period — 5, Union, Jooris 9, 11:15. 6, Dartmouth, Walsh, 15:03. 7, Union, Sullivan 5 (Carr, M. Bodie), 19:00 (pp). Penalty — Blight, Dart (boarding), 18:49.
Shots on Goal — Dartmouth 8-10-12 — 30. Union 9-9-12 — 30.
Power-play opportunities — Dartmouth 0 of 2; Union 1 of 3.
Goalies — Dartmouth, Grant 7-7-2 (15 shots-12 saves), Morris (4:47 second, 15-13). Union, Grosenick 14-9-5 (30-28).
A — 1,835. T — 2:12.
Referees — Chris Ciamaga, Joe Carusone. Linesmen — Joe Testa, Justin Prusak.