Union sophomore goalie Corey Milan has been excellent in tournament play this season. Now, he needs that same effort in ECAC Hockey games.
Coming off a stellar performance in last weekend’s Shillelagh Tournament, Milan knows he must improve upon his play in league games, and that means tonight, when the Dutchmen face league-leading and seventh-ranked Princeton at 7 at Hobey Baker Rink in Princeton, N.J.
Milan’s performances in tournament play enabled the Dutchmen to finish second in the Mutual of Omaha Stampede Oct. 17-18, win the Governor’s Cup the following weekend and finish third in the Shillelagh. Milan was named to the all-tournament team in the Stampede and Governor’s Cup, and was the most outstanding player of the Governor’s Cup.
Milan’s overall stats are good. He is 9-8-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. And he helped the Dutchmen (2-4 ECACH, 9-8-1 overall) to a 7-4-1 non-conference record.
However, it’s his ECACH stats that are a concern. While he has a .901 save percentage, Milan is 2-4 with a 3.38 GAA.
“This is the time of the season that really matters,” said Milan, who was named to the ECACH All-Rookie Team last year. “ECAC’s what it’s all about. Our out-of-conference games, we’re really proud of and we played well. But it’s crunch time here in the ECAC.”
Union coach Nate Leaman talked to Milan about stepping up his game. With only Rich Sillery backing Milan up following last month’s departure of Brett Bothwell, Milan is going to see plenty of playing time.
“Goaltending is just about everything in this game,” Leaman said. “It’s just important that he brings his focus every game. He’s a guy in junior that logged a lot of minutes, loved playing all the games and, coming in here, that was his goal to do that. Now, he’s going to get a pretty good opportunity.
“Corey’s going to carry the mail for us. Certainly, we don’t want to put too much pressure on him. I think he’s up for the task.”
The area in which Milan is working on the most is controlling his rebounds.
“Rebound goals are something that have been [recurring],” Milan said. “I’ve been confident all year, and confidence is a big thing. To you play confident, you have to be on top of your crease, and play big.”
RPI faces Quinnipiac
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute faces a hot Quinnipiac team tonight at 7 at the TD BankNorth Center in Hamden, Conn.
Since getting shut out in three straight home games in November, the Bobcats (6-3-1, 11-6-1) have scored 46 goals in their last 11 games, including 19 in four games in a six-day stretch last week. They have won five straight, and are 9-2 in their last 11.
Meanwhile, the Engineers (2-5, 3-15-1) have lost four straight, and 10 of their last 11. RPI coach Seth Appert knows his team will have its hands full, especially after Quinnipiac beat the Engineers, 5-1, Nov. 15 at Houston Field House.
“I’m not surprised they’re playing as well as they are,” Appert said. “They’re a very talented team with a lot of juniors and seniors leading the way. They’re a team that thrives on their opponent’s mistakes. They play a very patient, intelligent game, and they have very good stick skills.”
The Engineers will be without forward Tyler Helfrich (knee) and defenseman Christian Jensen (illness). Forward Patrick Cullen, who missed the Denver Cup because of illness, began skating Wednesday. He will be a game-time decision.
The Union and RPI women’s teams are home this weekend.
The Dutchwomen (0-8, 2-16-2) host Quinnipiac (2-7-2, 3-18-2) tonight at 7, and Princeton at 4 Saturday at Messa Rink. The Engineers (6-1-1, 10-6-2) have Princeton (6-5, 9-8-1) at 7 tonight and Quinnipiac at 4 Saturday at Houston Field House.
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