Union relaxed going into game against No. 1 Notre Dame (with video)

After a two-week break, the Union College hockey team seems very relaxed. Maybe it’s because the hol

After a two-week break, the Union College hockey team seems very relaxed.

Maybe it’s because the holiday season treated the Dutchmen well. Or it could be that they know that they are facing their biggest test of the season tonight, and there is no sense getting worked up about it.

Union (8-7-1) will face the nation’s top-ranked college hockey team, Notre Dame, in the opening round of the Shillelagh Tournament tonight at 9 at the Sears Centre Arena in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, Ill. The Fighting Irish, who lost in the NCAA tournament championship game last season, are 14-3-2, and are 12-0-2 in their last 14 games.

But the Dutchmen, who lost two straight games to Maine prior to the break, aren’t nervous about facing the top team in the country. How relaxed are they? Toward the end of Wednesday’s practice at Messa Rink, they skated for nearly 10 minutes to the haunting sounds of Rockwell’s 1984 song “Somebody’s Watching Me,” with backing vocals by Michael and Jermaine Jackson.

“We haven’t gone over the fact of who we’re playing. It’s what we do,” said Union associated head coach Rick Bennett, who is running the team while head coach Nate Leaman works with Team USA at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa. “We can do what we do better than them. I think we’re just going to be fine out there. If it’s Cornell, Maine, Notre Dame, Michigan, it just doesn’t matter at this point. We have to worry about ourselves. Obviously, we have to pick up a couple of their tendencies, which we have on film.

“At the end of the day, we have to work extremely hard, as hard we’ve ever worked. We must use our shoulder pads by finishing off our hits, and just playing good, old-fashioned hockey.”

Dutchmen senior co-captain Matt Cook doesn’t believe the team will be afraid of the Fighting Irish and their national ranking.

“At this level, you don’t get nervous or intimidated like you did when you were younger,” Cook said. “They’re a very good team, and we know that. But we’re just going to show up, and play our game and play hard.”

RPI faces BU in Denver

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute coach Seth Appert can’t wait to face another nationally ranked team.

After dropping a pair of games to third-ranked Miami (Ohio) Dec. 13-14, the Engineers (3-13-1) face another third-ranked team, Boston University (11-4-1), in the opening round of the Denver Cup tonight at 6:37 at Denver University.

“I’m excited,” Appert said. “It’s been a good break for me, for the guys. There’s no reason not to be anything but jacked up. It’s kind of a new start, and a new beginning to the second half of the season.

“We had some struggles in the first half, and some I anticipated. Others, I didn’t. At the same time, our guys have worked very hard in practice to get better to put ourselves in position to be a good second-half team.”

The Engineers will get a bit of a break against the Terriers. BU’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Colin Wilson (7-14-21), and one of its top defensemen, sophomore Kevin Shattenkirk (3-8-11), are playing for Team USA in the World Junior Championships.

Categories: College Sports


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