Winter Classic a thrill for Union players

Last Thursday, the Union men’s hockey team experienced the thrill of a lifetime.
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Last Thursday, the Union men’s hockey team experienced the thrill of a lifetime.

The Dutchmen were in attendance at Wrigley Field for the NHL Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. The trip was part of the Dutchmen’s itinerary for the last weekend’s Shillelagh Tourn­ament at Hoffman Estates, Ill. The tournament’s other three teams — Notre Dame, Minnesota- Duluth and UMass-Lowell — were also there.

The game and the atmosphere at Wrigley, the home of the Chicago Cubs, left the Dutchmen amazed at what they witnessed.

“It was awesome,” senior forward Matt Cook said. “Especially as a hockey player, when I grew up, I remember playing hockey in my uncle’s backyard, and it had that kind of atmosphere. The carnival atmosphere to it, too, was not just a hockey game. It was an event. It was pretty cool to see that.”

Like many of his teammates, sophomore goalie Corey Milan had never seen a Cubs’ game at Wrigley. He was mesmerized by the scene unfolding in front of him.

“It was a really different exper­ience seeing a game outside,” Milan said. “It was very different from a game in a hockey arena. You’re very set back from the game. It’s also a very different environment. It was a very cool experience.”

Sophomore forward Adam Presizniuk echoed Milan’s assessment.

“It was an amazing experience, one that I’m happy I was able to be a part of,” Presizniuk said. “I may never get the chance to do it again.”

LEAMAN ON JUNIORS

Despite Team USA’s fifth-place finish in the World Junior Champ­ionships, Union coach Nate Leaman enjoyed his second stint as an assistant coach for the squad.

“It was a tremendous exper­ience,” Leaman said. “Those games are so tight. Being through it the second time, it was interesting to hear some of the other staff members in their first time through saying that they didn’t realize how tight the tournament is, and actually how difficult it is. It’s tough to explain that for anyone outside of that tournament how tough and difficult that is.

“We always look at our American squad on paper and think we’re just going to, for some reason, blow the competition away. All the games are tight, and they all come down to a couple of bounces. Unfort­unately, we had a game where our staff thought we played really well, but the puck didn’t go in for us.”

That game was in the quarter­final round against Slovakia. Despite a 47-19 edge in shots, the U.S. lost, 5-3. The U.S. beat the Czech Republic, 3-2, in overtime to finish fifth.

COOK, LANGE NOMINATED

Cook and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute goalie Mathias Lange have been nominated for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award in men’s hockey, it was announced Tuesday.

An economics major with a math minor, Cook has a 3.833 grade-point average during his first three years at Union. He led the team in goals last season with 10 and is in his second season as co-captain.

“It’s a great honor,” Cook said. “There are a ton of great student-athletes around in our country.”

“Matt is one of the hardest working players I’ve ever been around,” Leaman said. “He has a very good skill level, and can finish. He is relied upon in all situations, and his leadership is going to play a big role into the success of the team.”

Lange, a management major, has a 3.76 GPA. He has been a Dean’s List student in every semester.

Two other ECAC Hockey players were among the 20 nominated. They are Harvard defenseman Brian McCafferty and St. Lawrence defenseman Zach Miskovic.

The award winner will be announced at April’s NCAA Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.

HANAGAN UPDATE

Leaman discussed Dutchmen freshman forward Randy Han­agan’s departure from school on Wednesday.

“His mother is ill,” Leaman said. “He’s definitely going to be gone for the next two terms. But after that, we’re going to see [how things play out]. I know it was a tough decision for him.

“Sometimes, there’s things a lot more important than hockey. Family, obviously, is one of them.”

Hanagan had two goals in seven games. One of those goals was a game-winner against American International on Dec. 9.

SLAP SHOTS

Willie O’Ree, the first African-American to play in the NHL, will be at tonight’s RPI-Quinnipiac game at the TD BankNorth Center. O’Ree will drop the ceremonial first puck prior to the game, and sign autographs during intermissions. . . .

Clarkson ended an 11-game winless streak by upsetting second-ranked Miami (Ohio), 4-2, in the first round of the Ohio Hockey Classic last Friday. The Golden Knights lost the championship game to Ohio State, 2-0. . . .

In a 6-2 loss to Minnesota in the opening round of the Dodge Hol­iday Classic last Friday, Brown was outshot, 35-2, through two periods, and 42-15 for the game. . . .

Clarkson and St. Lawrence will play a non-conference game Sunday at 4 p.m. at Cheel Arena. The game will be televised by ESPNU. The teams play a non-conference game Saturday night at Appleton Arena.

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