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by Ken Schott

Parting Schotts

A Daily Gazette sports blog
Ken Schott blogs about college hockey & more

Union-Cornell pregame report

Good evening from ... where am I again” ... it’s starts with an M ... there’s an E, then an S and another S ... oh yes, Messa Rink!

For the first time since Dec. 1, I am back covering a college hockey game. It just happens to coincide with Union’s first home game since then. The 17th-ranked Dutchmen host No. 16 Cornell.

The last time the Union fans saw their team, the Dutchmen rallied from a two-goal deficit late in the third period against Princeton to escape with a 4-4 tie. They almost won the game in the final minute, but a Daniel Carr shot hit the crossbar.

No one knew it at the time, but that was Game 2 of what has been a 10-game slump for the two-time defending ECAC Hockey regular-season champion Dutchmen (4-3-3 ECACH, 10-7-4 overall). The slide started the night before with a 4-0 loss to Quinnipiac. In their last 10 games, the Dutchmen are 2-5-3. In three of those games, Union blew two-goal leads. The Dutchmen got ties against Brown and Yale Dec. 7-8, and then suffered a devastating 3-2 loss to Quinnipiac last Saturday in a game that they had a major power-play to start the third period. Instead of expanding on the 2-0 lead, the Dutchmen managed just two shots on goal. The Bobcats seized the momentum, and scored three straight goals to stun the Dutchmen.

Had Union been able to win the game, then we would be talking about the Dutchmen coming into tonight’s game on a two-game winning streak (they beat Princeton, 3-2, last Friday). Now, the Dutchmen must set it sights on keeping its hopes alive of a first-round bye in the ECACH tournament.

But when I spoke to Union coach Rick Bennett this week, playoff positioning wasn’t on his mind.

“I think we get too far ahead of ourselves,” Bennett said. “We’re trying to get to the NCAAs, and we’re not even there yet. We’re far from there. That should be the last thing on our mind. Atlantic City, the first round of the playoffs, that stuff is window dressing. We need to just focus on [practices], and then we’ll worry about Cornell Friday night.”

The Dutchmen will be without senior defenseman Shawn Stuart. He suffered an upper-body injury midway through the first period of last Saturday’s Quinnipiac game. It ends his consecutive games played streak at 100.

Here is the Union lineup, starting with the forwards (LW-C-RW):
Daniel Ciampini/Kyle Bodie/Wayne Simpson
Matt Wilkins/Max Novak/Daniel Carr
Matt Hatch/Josh Jooris/Kevin Sullivan
Cole Ikkala/David Roy/Sam Coatta

The defensive pairings are:
Greg Coburn/Shayne Gostisbehere
Mat Bodie/Sebastien Gingras
Charlie Vasaturo/Tim Boyle

Troy Grosenick starts in goal.

The Big Red (3-3-2, 7-6-2) haven’t played since losing a two-game series at Denver Jan. 4-5. The Jan. 5 game was a bizarre one for Cornell. In the 2-1 loss to the Pioneers, the Big Red was called for 76 minutes in penalties, compared to 12 minutes for Denver, and had four players thrown out of the game, including a game disqualification to Rodger Craig for allegedly using obscene language in the postgame handshake line. Craig is suspended for tonight’s game. John McCarron was originally given those penalties, but the WCHA reviewed the tape and discovered the wrong player was assessed those penalties.

Senior forward Greg Miller leads the Cornell attack with seven goals and seven assists. Another senior forward, John Esposito, also has seven goals. Junior Andy Iles has played in all of Cornell’s games. He has a 2.32 goals-against average.

Here is the Cornell lineup, starting with the forwards:
Joel Lowry/Greg Miller/Brian Ferlin
John Esposito/Cole Bardreau/John McCarron
Dustin Mowery/Erik Axell/Armand DeSwardt
Madison Dias/John Knisley/Vince Mihalek

The defensive pairings are:
Reece Willcox/Nick D’Agostino
Braden Birch/Joakim Ryan
Kirill Gotovets/Jacob MacDonald

Iles starts in goal.

Gostisbehere and Bardreau will be honored just after warmups for helping Team USA win the gold medal in the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Andy O’Brien and Peter Feola are the referees. The linesmen are Jason Shattie and Justin Prusak.

I’ll have updates on the on Twitter. If you’re not following me, my Twitter handle is @slapschotts. The hashtags I will use for this game are #UnionHockey, #CornellHockey and #ECACHockey. If you have any questions during the game, feel free to ask.

I’ll update my Parting Schotts blog after each period, and have more description of the game.

If you haven’t done so, please like two Facebook pages — The Daily Gazette on Ice and the Slap Schotts College Hockey Segment. Of course, you can also friend me on Facebook.

Enjoy the game!

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