Bennett looks back at Union hockey season (with video)
I sat down with Union hockey coach Rick Bennett on Tuesday at Messa Rink to look back at the Dutchmen's season.
Union's bid for a second straight trip to the NCAA hockey tournament Frozen Four when it lost to Quinnipiac, 5-1, in Sunday's East Regional final in Providence, R.I.
It was a strange season for the Dutchmen. It took them several months to find their identity. They didn't win a third straight ECAC Hockey regular-season title, but they did capture their second straight ECACH tournament championship and earn a third straight NCAA tournament berth.
Some excerpts from my interview:
Asked if there was a Frozen Four hangover, Bennett said: “Anytime you have a program that goes to the Frozen Four for the first time, you’re going to have these lofty expectation. I thought our guys handled it well. But, maybe deep down, we felt we were a little bit better than we thought we were for the first half of the season, and even going into January and a little bit of February.
“But at the same token, we only had one losing month of hockey throughout the whole time. We at .500 once or twice. I know we talk about these peaks and valleys, but it wasn’t as bad as we thought.”
On trying to find the right line combinations: “We learned a tremendous amount as a coaching staff in our second year, a lot more than we did in our first year. It was an absolute battle trying to find three consistent lines, and a fourth line that we felt comfortable with down the stretch. The thing that threw it for a loop, too, was the fact of [sophomore defenseman] Charlie Vasaturo getting hurt because he was playing really good hockey, the best he’s ever played here, in the end. And it’s nice that [freshman defenseman] Sebastien Gingras really stepped up his game in the last bit.”
On learning a lesson from not taking games for granted: “That is the one area that will be addressed this spring. It will be addressed in the opening meeting come September, and throughout all of next year. As much as we say keep it simple and talk out on there on the ice, that will be point No. 3, never take a game for granted.”
My full story will appear in Wednesday's print edition and here on the website.
To see my interview with Bennett, click here.