When Union faced St. Lawrence Saturday night, it didn’t want a repeat of Friday’s 5-2 win against Clarkson, when it let up after grabbing a 5-0 lead early in the second period.
Instead, the Dutchmen played a solid, 60-minute game against the Saints. Not only were they rewarded with a win, but they also took sole possession of first place in ECAC Hockey.
Matt Hatch had two goals and an assist, goalie Troy Grosenick made 26 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and the 14th-ranked Dutchmen cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Saints at Messa Rink.
Union (9-3-3 ECACH, 15-6-6 overall), the defending Cleary Cup champion, has a two-point lead over Cornell after the Big Red blew a 3-1 third-period lead at Colgate and lost, 5-3. Cornell, which has a game in hand on the Dutchmen, visits Union next Saturday. Colgate, which is four points back in third place, faces the Dutchmen at Messa on Friday.
“Obviously, we feel pretty good,” said Union center Kelly Zajac, who had a goal and an assist. “We’re going to go over some stuff as a team. Yesterday, we didn’t play as well as we could, but we got the win. Tonight, we played a pretty solid game. It’s nice to be in first place right now, but Cornell is a good team. We’ve got them next weekend, so it’s going to be a big weekend for us.”
The Dutchmen didn’t let up against the Saints (4-9-1, 8-15-3), who have been without head coach Joe Marsh all season as he is on a medical leave of absence. They kept the pressure on the Saints. When the Saints had their chances, the Dutchmen stopped them.
“We’ll take that effort from our team every game,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “I was more impressed with how SLU kept battling. That’s a compliment to [associate head coach] Mike Hurlbut and [assistant coach] Greg Carvel.
“It was a great test. We’ve talked about, in the past, about our team sitting on our heels. That was a great [way], for our program, of growing. We talk about growing as a program, and that was a good, good step. By no means are we there. Far, far from it. I can’t say enough, from our goaltending on out, it was a solid team effort.”
Just as they did against Clarkson, the Dutchmen jumped out to the lead in the first period. Zajac scored the first one with 9:30 left in the first. He drove hard to the net and tapped a Wayne Simpson pass past goalie Matt Weninger.
Just over 21⁄2 minutes later, Jeremy Welsh was in front of the net when he one-timed a Daniel Carr feed from behind the net past Weninger.
The Dutchmen had a solid second period, outshooting the Saints, 16-11. However, it looked like the score was going to remain 2-0.
But Mat Bodie struck with 3.8 seconds left. After Weninger stopped a Zajac shot, the rebound came out to Bodie in the right circle, and he fired it into an open net.
“Anytime you score in the last minute, and especially when you get in the last five or 10 seconds, it’s always a tough blow for a team,” Bodie said. “They were hanging around. It was just a great job by ‘Wayneo’ [Wayne Simpson] to get the puck to ‘Zaj.’ I knew there was five seconds left, so I was cheating around the net, and the rebound came right to me.”
The Saints had the Dutchmen running around to start the third period. Union had trouble clearing the puck out of its zone, until Simpson’s pass out to Hatch.
Hatch skated down the left wing. He got to the left circle and fired a hard wrist shot over Weninger’s glove at 3:39.
“I think it was a pretty timely goal,” Hatch said. “That put them back on their heels, and [helped] us keep going.”
The Dutchmen poured it on from there. Great passing by Daniel Ciampini and Kyle Bodie set up a nifty backhanded goal by Max Novak midway through the third. Hatch closed out the scoring with a carbon-copy of his first goal.
“That was huge,” Mat Bodie said of putting the game away in the third. “We’ve been able to get out to leads for most of the season. There’s been a few times we’ve had lapses, even though we’ve had big leads and we let teams back in it. I think it’s a big step for our team to have the maturity to keep
going. Obviously, ‘Gross’ [Grosenick] deserved that shutout. It was great to get it for him.”
St. Lawrence 0 0 0 — 0
Union 2 1 3 — 6
First Period — 1, Union, Zajac 6 (Simpson, Hatch), 10:30. 2, Union, Welsh 18 (Carr, Jooris), 13:08. Penalties — Reid, Uni (holding), 14:42; Ge. Hughes, StL (tripping), 15:54; M. Bodie, Uni (holding), 18:39.
Second Period — 3, Union, M. Bodie 7 (Zajac, Simpson), 19:56. Penalties — Carey, StL (goalie interference), :42; M. Bodie, Uni (tripping), 12:47; Essery, StL (boarding), 14:25.
Third Period — 4, Union, Hatch 4 (Simpson), 3:39. 5, Union, Novak 5 (K. Bodie, Ciampini), 9:52. 6, Union, Hatch 5 (Gostisbehere), 18:23. Penalties — Martin, StL (boarding), 6:39; Welsh, Uni (boarding), 11:06.
Shots on Goal — St. Lawrence 4-11-11 — 26. Union 15-16-10 — 41.
Power-play opportunities — St. Lawrence 0 of 4; Union 0 of 4.
Goalies — St. Lawrence, Weninger 7-11-3 (41 shots-36 saves). Union, Grosenick 14-4-3 (26-26).
A — 2,061. T — 2:04.
Referees — Andy O’Brien, Kevin Graber. Linesmen — Mike Emanatian, Andy Petrus.
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Categories: College Sports