Union-Bowling Green postgame report (Friday edition, with 4 videos)
A look back at Friday’s 3-3 tie between 16th-ranked Union and Bowling Green.
At 6:21 of the first period, Falcons forward Bryce Williamson drove the net hard, too hard. He crashed into Union goalie and Niskayuna native Colin Stevens. Stevens was down for a few minutes.
After slowly getting up, he headed for the bench and then the locker room. That meant it was time for freshman Alex Sakellaropoulos to make his collegiate debut.
Sakellaropoulos, who was recruited by the Dutchmen from the U.S. Hockey League’s Chicago Steel not long after Troy Grosenick decided to skip his senior year to join the San Jose Sharks, performed well. He stopped 21 shots.
Not bad for a kid who was very nervous before the game, even though he knew he wasn’t starting.
“I was nervous from the get-go,” Sakellaropoulos said. “Once I stepped in the rink, I was nervous. My stomach was jittering. It was so scary out there.
“When I saw him go down, I didn’t think much. I thought he was just going to get back up, just collect his thoughts and get back at it. I looked over at coach Tapper [assistant Jason Tapp], and he said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on.’
“Once ‘Stevo’ started heading to the bench, it was my time to go.”
Although Sakellaropoulos gave up three goals, all in the second period, none of them were his fault. One was a great shot from the slot by Dan DeSalvo. The second one, Sakellaropoulos was left helpless as no Union defenseman took out Pierre-Luc Mercier, whose goal tied the score, 2-2. The third goal that tied it, 3-3, was a fluke. Ironically, it was Williamson who scored it. He was behind the net looking to pass the puck. It hit a Union defenseman’s stick and dropped past Sakellaropoulos’ left leg.
“If you’re going to come in [for] your first time, that’s probably the best way to come in,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “I think Jason Tapp will probably tell you the same thing. [Sakellaropoulos] did a great job for us. We’re proud of the effort he put out there. He gave us a chance.”
All Bennett would say is that Stevens suffered an upper-body injury.
“We’re just going to have to wait until [today],” Bennett said. “Another a.m. decision.”
— Daniel Carr scored for the Dutchmen. He was robbed twice in overtime by BG goalie Tommy Burke. Burke made a glove save on Carr slot shot, and then stuck out the left pad to stop Carr on 3-on-1 rush after a give-and-go between Carr and Shayne Gostisbehere.
— Speaking of Gostisbehere, he led the Dutchmen with five shots on goal. And he had BG players twisting all around with some of the sick moves he made. On one occasion, he skated through the BG players.
— Freshman center Eli Lichtenwald had a nice shot from the slot to score his first collegiate goal midway through the first period. It came on the major penalty on Williamson for running into Stevens.
— Another freshman right winger Michael Pontarelli, looked good, too. He had two assists. He looks like a pretty good passer.
Not so good
— Union’s second-period play cost it the game. The Dutchmen didn’t have a sense of urgency, and were standing around too much.
“We lost a little attention to detail for a while,” Carr said. “Even after [his] goal, we lost it again. That’s just part of maturing.”
I have four postgame videos.
To see Bennett’s press conference, click here.
To see Sakellaropoulos’ press conference, click here.
To see Carr’s press conference, click here.
To see BG coach Chris Bergeron’s press conference, click here.
My three stars of the game:
1) Tommy Burke, Bowling Green goalie — Made 24 saves, including the two on Carr in OT to preserve the tie.
2) Michael Pontarelli, Union right winger — Had two assists in college debut.
3) Alex Sakellaropoulos, Union goalie — Makes 21 save in place of an injured Stevens. Not bad for his first game.
That is all from Messa Rink. I’ll be back with you Saturday night for the rematch. And I am happy to be back for my 23rd season of covering Union hockey!
Good Night! Good Hockey!