Union-Brown postgame report (with 3 videos)
Last weekend was probably the most frustrating time of the season for Union.
The Dutchmen were swept in the North Country by Clarkson and St. Lawrence. They got off to bad starts in both games. Goalie Troy Grosenick was lifted in the first period after allowing two goals in each of those games. The Dutchmen seemed in disarray.
My, how things have changed in a week.
After beating Yale, 4-2, Friday, Union completed a weekend sweep Saturday night with a 2-0 ECAC Hockey victory over Brown, a team that has given it fits in recent years. The Bears were the only team the Dutchmen failed to get a point from last season as they won their second straight ECACH Cleary Cup.
Beating Brown was certainly important for the Dutchmen. It was their first win over the Bears since Jan. 29, 2011.
More importantly, the Dutchmen appear to have their mojo back.
The offense fired 90 shots on goal in the two games, including a season-high 48 against Brown. Four of the six goals they scored came even strength, an area that had been a struggle for the Dutchmen prior to this weekend.
And, probably the best news of all for Union fans, Grosenick looks like the goalie that won the Ken Dryden Award as the league’s top netminder and was named an All-America.
After last Saturday’s 4-2 loss to St. Lawrence, Union coach Rick Bennett declared open competition for the No. 1 goalie spot. Grosenick responded to the challenge.
“Troy Grosenick set the tone with his work ethic and his refusal to just accept what had happened to him, and the team,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “We fed off that. His work with [assistant coach] Jason Tapp was exceptional. It’s just a by-product of how you practice is how you’re going to play.”
Grosenick, who made 37 saves against Yale, stopped 24 shots against Brown. He was at his best late in the second period when, in a 16-second stretch, he made two pads saves on Nick Lappin down low, and then made a rapier-like glove save on a Matt Lorito drive from the left circle.
“The guys did a real good job on letting me see the puck,” said Grosenick, who earned his first shutout of the season. “It’s a game of ebb and flow. Obviously, they’re going to have a couple of really good chances throughout the game. They seemed to get it going at the last five minutes of that second period. But the ‘D’ did a great job of making sure that there weren’t any rebound opportunities, and clearing out guys and letting me the puck.”
I asked Grosenick if he believed this was a big weekend for him after what happened last weekend.
“I don’t know if it’s redemption,” he said. “It’s all part of being a goalie. Sometimes, you’re not going to have it, for whatever reason. That kind of happened last weekend. You just move on from it.”
The Dutchmen have seemed to move on from last weekend’s disastrous weekend. They were aggressive offensively against Yale and Brown. They got a great weekend from the line of center Matt Hatch, left winger Max Novak and right winger Kevin Sullivan. Novak scored twice, including the game-winner against Brown on a nifty give-and-go with Sullivan at 9:30 of the second period.
Novak came down the left wing and sent a pass to Kevin Sullivan behind the goal line. As Novak was going to the net, Sullivan sent the puck back to Novak, who fired it over Borelli’s glove.
“It all started with the good forecheck by [Matt] Hatch,” Novak said. “He forced the guy to wrap it around. I was able to pick it up and give it to ‘Sully,’ and he gave me a good pass and I got a pretty good piece of it.”
“It was a pretty great shot by Max,” Sullivan said. “We started sweeping on our forecheck. ‘Novs’ passed it right down to me, and made a very simple play. I made an easy pass to him, and he had a great shot.”
Bodie sealed the win on an empty-net goal with 18.1 seconds left.
“We stuck with it, and the guys were rewarded for sticking with it,” Bennett said. “We’ve been in this situation before. It’s [not] like we haven’t been 0-0 with teams going into the second period. It was kind of old hat, so we’re used to it. If you’re used to something, you’re pretty comfortable with it. Last night, with what they saw, really helped tonight by sticking to the process.”
From the hard-to-believe department: This was the first time in the 44-game series that Union has shut out Brown. The Bears have posted three shutouts against the Dutchmen.
Union gains in PairWise
The win helped the Dutchmen move up again in the PairWise Rankings. As of midnight, they are now tied for 14th with UMass-Lowell.
RPI, with its 4-1 win over Yale, is 16th.
After taking eight penalties against Yale, the Dutchmen were much more disciplined against Brown. They were called for just one penalty, a holding-the-stick minor to David Roy at 2:56 of the second period.
“Basically, we didn’t say anything, as a staff,” Bennett said. “Sometimes if you say we’ve got to do this and we’ve got to do that, it’s the worse thing you can do.”
I have three postgame videos.
To see Bennett’s press conference, click here.
To see the press conference with Novak and Sullivan, click here.
To see Brown coach Brendan Whittet’s press conference, click here.
There was a glitch in the video of Grosenick’s press conference.
My three stars of the game:
1) Troy Grosenick, Union goalie — Makes 24 saves to earn his first shutout of the season.
2) Anthony Borelli, Brown goalie — Did all he could to keep Bears in game with career-high 46 saves.
3) Max Novak, Union center— Scores game-winning goal.
That’s all from Messa Rink. I’m taking Monday off for Presidents’ Day, so no College Hockey Slap Schotts blog. I may post one Tuesday.
Good Night! Good Hockey!