Hockey: Time off will help Dutchmen

Union’s road to winning its first ECAC Hockey regular-season title was fun for the team. But it was

Union’s road to winning its first ECAC Hockey regular-season title was fun for the team. But it was also a grind.

Once the calendar turned to 2011, the Dutchmen didn’t have any weekends off. They played 16 straight ECACH games, and almost won them all.

But this coming weekend, the Dutchmen will get a chance to rest.

By winning the Cleary Cup and the top seed in the ECACH tourn­ament, the fifth-ranked Dutchmen (17-3-2 ECACH, 25-7-4 overall) have a first-round bye. They will host the lowest remaining seed in the best-of-three quarterfinals March 11-13 at Messa Rink.

Union coach Nate Leaman knows his team needs a breather.

“We’re going to take Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off from skating,” Leaman said after Saturday’s Cup-clinching 5-0 victory over Princeton at Messa Rink. “We’re going to get a couple of good lifts in Tuesday and Thursday, and try to refresh our bodies. I thought we were banged up and tired this weekend. We had some guys with the flu that were really battling it. Fortunately for us, the energy in the building got us going.

“We need to heal up. You go 16 straight league games, I don’t think there’s a team that’s not banged up right now. Everyone’s banged up.”

The Dutchmen didn’t have

junior defenseman Nolan Julseth-White for the weekend after suffering a knee sprain last Saturday at St. Lawrence. Freshman defenseman Mike Ingoldsby hasn’t played since Jan. 8 against St. Lawrence because of the effects of a concussion suffered in late November. Ingoldsby took a medical leave from school for the remainder of the winter term, which ends in over a week, and will be eligible to play if the Dutchmen reach the ECACH final four in Atlantic City, N.J.

In Saturday’s game, Union senior forward John Simpson took an elbow to the head from Princeton defenseman Alec Rush 6:04 into the game. Simpson was down for about a minute, but stayed in the game and scored a short-handed, empty-net goal with 6:35 remaining in the game that made it 5-0.

“It’s going to be good for us to heal up,” Dutchmen sophomore goalie Keith Kinkaid said. “We have a few injuries, right now. We’re just going to take it day by day, and get ready for the playoffs.”

The Dutchmen had an incredible two-month run to the Cleary Cup. They went 14-1-1 in the 16 games. The only blemish was a 4-1 loss to Dartmouth on Jan. 21, their only home loss of the season.

That was Union’s last loss. It is on an 11-game (10-0-1) unbeaten streak.

Union won’t know its opponent until after the first round concludes. The teams are reseeded after the first round, and the Dutchmen will face the lowest-remaining seed. That could be one of five teams — No. 8 Quinnipiac, No. 9 Brown, No. 10 Harvard, No. 11 St. Lawrence or No. 12 Colgate.

“The next two weeks are big for us to prepare and improve as a team so we can be the best we can be heading into the playoffs, and be ready for whoever we’re playing,” said freshman forward Daniel Carr, who scored twice against Princeton and tied a Dutchmen Division I-era record for goals by a freshman with 20. “We’ll know a week in advance, and prepare for what we have to do to win the series.”


Chris Ford scored 20 goals in his freshman season of 1993-94. . . .

Carr tied St. Lawrence’s Greg Carey for most goals by a freshman with 11. Carr tied for the league lead in power-play goals with six. Prince­ton’s Taylor Fedun and Yale’s Brian O’Neill also had six. . . .

Kinkaid won the league’s goals-against average title, beating Dartmouth’s James Mello, 1.90 to 1.93. . . .

Union had the top defensive team in ECACH play, allowing just 1.95 goals per game. The Dutchmen finished with the league’s best power play at 24.4 percent (22-for-90).

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