Switch to center has put Union’s Lareau on ice

Union junior Jonathan Lareau had only played in 18 games during his first two years with the Dutchme
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Union junior Jonathan Lareau had only played in 18 games during his first two years with the Dutchmen. Being a defenseman, it was tough to crack the lineup with guys like Lane Caffaro, Mike Harr, Brock Matheson, Brendan Milnamow, Mike Schreiber and Mike Wakita getting all the playing time.

But a change in positions has gotten Lareau more playing time recently. Lareau is now a center, and he has been a regular on the fourth line the last nine games.

After playing on defense on Oct. 24 against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Governor’s Cup, Lareau made his debut at center on Nov. 28 against Army. He played there in games against Maine Dec. 13 and UMass-Lowell Jan. 3 before becoming a regular part of the lineup Jan. 24 against St. Lawrence.

“It’s good,” Lareau said. “It’s interesting at times, but it’s not bad.”

Lareau said making the switch wasn’t that difficult.

“I played center in high school for a little bit, and when I was growing up,” Lareau said.

Union coach Nate Leaman experimented with Lareau as a center in a couple of games last season.

“We wanted to have seven defensemen in the lineup, at times, last year,” Leaman said. “Jonny came in, and was the best guy for that role. This year, we’ve had those six guys, and it’s been tough to crack those six guys. Jonny’s a guy who has really good hands, and he has good offensive instincts. He wasn’t able to crack the lineup for the ‘D,’ but we thought we would put him up the middle.

“As a big body, 6-1, he’s strong. He likes to play physical, and he’s got good hands. The past two to three weeks, he’s actually scored some nice goals in practice. I really think it’s coming for him.”

Seventh player award

Union fans will have a chance to vote for the team’s fourth annual Seventh Player Award this weekend.

Ballots will be given to fans as they enter Messa Rink for tonight’s game against St. Lawrence, and Saturday’s contest against Clarkson. Ballots should be returned to the ticket office during or after the games.

There won’t be online voting this year.

The winner will be announced at the team banquet April 6 at the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia. Tickets for the banquet are available through the Union athletic office.

WOMEN’S PLAYOFFS

The ECAC Hockey women’s tournament gets under way today with the best-of-three quarter­finals.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (16-13-4) is the sixth seed in the tournament, and will visit third-seeded Princeton (18-9-2). It’s the second time the Engineers have made the playoffs in their three years in the ECACH.

In other matchups, top-seeded Harvard (17-9-3) hosts No. 8 Cornell (12-12-5), No. 7 Clarkson (16-12-6) visits second-seeded and North Country-rival St. Lawrence (22-9-3) and fourth-seeded Dartmouth (16-8-4) entertains fifth-seeded Colgate (18-12-3).

The final four will be at highest-seeded team next weekend.

Alber to BC

Boston Junior Bruins defenseman and Clifton Park resident Patch Alber has made a verbal commitment to Boston College for next season.

Alber, who turns 20 March 11, has three goals and 19 assists in 44 games this season. Last year, he had nine assists in 50 games.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Alber played two years at Shenendehowa High School, and then two years at Northwood Prep.

LOCAL UPDATE

Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region did over the past week.

u Quinnipiac junior forward Mike Atkinson (Kinderhook) had an assist in the Bobcats’ 3-3 tie with Yale last Friday.

u RPI junior defenseman Laura Gersten (Queensbury) picked up an assist in last Friday’s 3-1 win over Cornell. Gersten also had assist in the Engineers’ 4-1 victory over Colgate the next day.

u St. Lawrence junior forward Tara Akstull (Clifton Park) collected a goal and two assists in the Saints’ 4-3 victory over Dartmouth last Saturday.

u Boston University senior forward Nicki Wiart (Queensbury) scored her first goal of the season in the Terriers’ 8-1 triumph over Northeastern on Sunday.

COSTLY FIGHT

With seventh-place Quinnipiac fighting for home ice in the first round of the ECACH tournament, the last thing it could afford was lose key players.

When the Bobcats visit sixth-place Harvard tonight at 7:30, they will be without three of their top players. Forwards Eric Lampe and David Marshall, and defenseman Zach Hansen are serving one-game suspensions for their fights at the end of the game against Brown last Saturday. The Bobcats were upset by last-place Brown, 3-2.

Marshall is the Bobcats’ leading goal scorer with 18, and is second in points with 39. Lampe is fourth in team scoring with 11 goals and 11 assists. Hansen is Quinnipiac’s top-scoring defenseman with six goals and 12 assists.

Brown forwards Matt Vokes and Aaron Volpatti, and defenseman Mike Stuart will miss tonight’s game against Colgate.

TV GAMES

Three ECACH games are on TV this weekend.

Time Warner Cable Sports channel 3 will televise two of those contests — tonight’s Clarkson-RPI game at Houston Field House at 7 p.m., and Saturday’s Clarkson-Union matchup from Messa Rink at 7 p.m.

John Hennessy, who normally calls the RPI games on TWC-3, will miss tonight’s contest as he recovers from injuries he sustained in the Albany River Rats’ bus crash last Thursday. Hennessy is the Rats’ radio analyst. Tim Heiman, an RPI student who calls the games on WRPI-FM (91.5), will fill in for Hennessy.

ESPNU will carry the Colgate-Yale game from Ingalls Rink at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Categories: College Sports

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