Bennett pleased with Union going 4-0-1 in nine-day stretch
If you asked Union coach Rick Bennett prior to the season about the grueling December schedule of five games in nine days, with the final two games on the road on a wider ice surface and against a top-ranked team, he might have been happy going 3-2.
So, he is more than pleased that the Dutchmen went 4-0-1.
“All-in-all, for the adversity this team faced with the tough stretch of games, the players did a great job and I’m proud of them,” Bennett said.
It could have been 5-0. The 10th-ranked Dutchmen were 20 seconds away from that Saturday night before settling for a 3-3 tie with top-ranked St. Cloud State.
Had Union won, it would have given it 10 straight victories, which would have broken the team’s Division I-era record of nine set in 2010-11. But the Dutchmen will take a 10-game unbeaten steak into the Christmas break.
“It was a good road trip,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “If you had told the coaching staff before the trip that we would come away with a win and a tie against the top team in the nation we would have been pleased. But we are far from satisfied.”
The five games in nine days began Dec. 6 with a 3-0 win over Princeton at Messa Rink. The next night, the Dutchmen pulled out a 6-4 win over defending ECAC Hockey regular-season champion Quinnipiac to pull into a tie for first place with the Bobcats.
On Wednesday, the Dutchmen overcame a lethargic first 40 minutes and a 2-1 deficit to beat Dartmouth, 3-2, and take over sole possession of first place.
After a few hours of sleep, the Dutchmen were off to Albany International Airport and a 6 a.m. flight to Minnesota for their two-game series with the Huskies. The Dutchmen played well in Friday’s opener and earned a 4-1 win.
In the rematch, the Dutchmen trailed, 1-0, after one. They scored their three goals in a 4:01 span of the second period to grab a 3-1 lead. Daniel Ciampini tied it at 6:06. Daniel Carr gave Union a 2-1 lead at 9:03. Eli Lichtenwald made it a 3-1 advantage at 10:07.
The Huskies rallied in the third period with a pair of power-play goals. Joey Benik got the first one at 3:32. Jonny Brodzinski tied it with 20 seconds left and goalie Ryan Faragher out for an extra attacker.
“I think this wasn’t the result we were looking for,” Carr said, “but this will help us at the end of the season.”
After getting Friday’s game off, goalie Colin Stevens got the start for Union and made 35 saves.
“I thought the story of the game was Colin Stevens,” Bennett said. He kept us in it. It was a real battle. We pushed back in the second, but I think, mentally, we were fatigued in the third period with the penalties and it caught us in the end.”
A three-round shootout was conducted after the five-minute overtime. Union won that, 2-1, but the NCAA doesn’t recognize a shootout as a way to determine a game’s outcome. Ciampini and Carr scored for the Dutchmen.