Union ties series against Quinnipiac on late goal

Union's Nick Cruice sets up Michael Pontarelli's goal to beat Quinnipiac
Ryan Scarfo scores for Union in an ECACH playoff game aginst Quinnipiac
Ryan Scarfo scores for Union in an ECACH playoff game aginst Quinnipiac

It’s been a rough year for Union junior forward Nick Cruice. From getting suspended at the start of the season to being a part-time player, nothing has seemed to gone right for him.

That is, until Saturday night, when he saved the Dutchmen’s season.

Cruice made a great move to set up sophomore forward Michael Pontarelli’s goal late in the third period that lifted the 10th-seeded Dutchmen to a 3-2 victory over top-seeded and 11th-ranked Quinnipiac in Game 2 of the ECAC Hockey tournament quarterfinals at High Point Solutions Arena.

The victory evened the best-of-three series at a game apiece. The deciding game is at 4 p.m. today. At stake is a berth in the ECACH tournament semifinals on Friday in Lake Placid.

Union (19-17-2), the three-time defending champion, still has a shot at No. 4, thanks to Cruice.

“He’s battled through some tough times throughout the year,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “He’s always kept it positive, and that’s why he had a chance to play tonight. Just by his actions, he’s well-liked by the team. We felt that when you plug a guy in that’s well-liked on the team, they’ll play hard for him and he’s going to play hard for them.”

After getting six goals and an assist in 35 games last year, Cruice began this season with a three-game suspension for violating team rules. He never got to be a regular this season. Saturday’s contest was just his 15th, and he had just one assist.

“I’m not a selfish person,” said Cruice, who replaced Tyler Hynes. “I know this night was all about the seniors. They’ve given this program four solid years, and I’m best friends with all of them. I’m just going to do my part and help them and the rest of the team.”

Assist No. 2 was a big one.

Getting a pass from Eli Lichtenwald, Cruice skated along the right-wing boards and picked up speed as he headed into the Quinnipiac zone. Bobcats defenseman Derek Smith tried to slow him by checking him into the boards, but Cruice cruised past him.

Cruice then skated behind the net. As he came around the left side, he spotted Pontarelli. Cruice made a quick pass, and Pontarelli one-timed it past goalie Michael Garteig with 3:53 left to snap a 2-2 tie.

“It was kind of a broken play in the neutral zone,” Cruice said. “Eli was good enough to get it to me. I was kind of flat-footed at the start, but I just put my head down and went wide. We’re always told to get pucks to the net and, luckily, ‘Ponts’ was there backdoor.”

Pontarelli gave Cruice high praise for the effort.

“He did a good job skating up the ice,” Pontarelli said. “I guess he burned the defenseman wide. Obviously, he’s a strong guy and he outmuscled him. He found a way to make a great pass across the crease, and I was there.”

It was the second straight night that Pontarelli scored Union’s third goal. Unlike Friday, the Dutchmen protected it.

The Bobcats rallied to tie the score on two extra-attacker goals by Sam Anas erase the Dutchmen’s 3-1 lead and send the game into overtime. Quinnipiac won it, 4-3, in the third OT on Alex Barron’s goal.

A night late, the Dutchmen did a much-better job when the Bobcats (22-10-4) pulled Garteig with 1:09 left. Quinnipiac didn’t any shots on goalie Colin Stevens.

“That’s why they film the games,” Bennett said. “It gives us a chance to see what we did wrong. We picked up a couple of their tendencies, but it was just more of just keeping our sticks on the ice and getting in some shot lanes.”

Quinnipiac took a 1-0 lead on an Anas goal 3:46 into the game. Ryan Scarfo got that one back 27 seconds later when he batted the rebound of a J.C. Brassard left-point shot.

Matthew Peca made it 2-1 at 6:18 of the second. Over seven minutes later, however, Max Novak skated down the right wing and had his shot stopped. But he dove and put home the rebound.

Stevens made 31 saves, none bigger than the one he stopped with 1:58 left in the second period. Soren Jonzzon appeared to have Stevens beaten when he sent a backhander toward an open net. Somehow, Stevens reached out with his glove and snagged the puck before it crossed the goal line.

“I saw the puck squirt loose in front there,” Stevens said. “I kind of got caught out of position a little bit, so I just tried to reach my glove out. I was fortunate enough to make a pretty good save.

“[It was] pretty big. The guys in front of me were doing a pretty good job. We were getting in a rhythm offensively, so I just wanted to make sure that I was doing my job.”


Daniel Ciampini had two assists to give him 50 points. That ties him for the Union Division I single-season record, first set by Daniel Carr last season. …

Because WVKZ-AM (1240) is off the air, today’s game will be carried by WAIX-AM (1160) and WAIX-FM (106.1).

Union 1 1 1 — 3

Quinnipiac 1 1 0 — 2

First Period — 1, Quinnipiac, Anas 23 (St. Denis), 3:46. 2, Union, Scarfo 11 (Brassard, Ciampini), 4:13. Penalty — Wilkins, Uni (cross-checking), 17:57.

Second Period — 3, Quinnipiac, Peca 6 (Pieper, McKernan), 6:18. 4, Union, Novak 10 (Scarfo, Ciampini), 13:28. Penalties — D. Smith, Qui (holding), 7:14; Jonzzon, Qui (cross-checking), 9:46.

Third Period — 5, Union, Pontarelli 5 (Cruice, Lichtenwald), 16:07. Penalty — St. Denis, Qui (tripping), 11:13.

Shots on Goal — Union 8-13-7 — 28. Quinnipiac 10-11-11 — 33.

Power-play opportunities — Union 0 of 3; Quinnipiac 0 of 1.

Goalies — Union, Stevens 16-14-0 (33 shots-31 saves). Quinnipiac, Garteig 21-8-3 (28-25).

A — 2,858. T — 2:04.


CANTON — Mike Marnell scored a pair of goals as Saint Lawrence swept the best-of-three series and ended the Engineers’ season.

The Engineers outshot the Saints, 39-27, but couldn’t solve Kyle Hayton, who shut them out in Friday’s first game.

RPI 0 1 0 — 1

Saint Lawrence 2 1 2 — 5

First Period — 1, SLU, Marnell (Gluchowski), 5:45. 2, SLU, Dahl (Martin, Hagen), 6:50. Penalties — Hudson, SLU (holding), 1:52; Wood, RPI (roughing), 8:03; Bayreuther, SLU (tripping), 16:27.

Second Period — 3, RPI, Miller (Bradley, Nanne), 2:02. 4, SLU. Marnell (Martin), 18:09. Penalties — Gluchowski, SLU (holding), 7:02; Hughes, SLU (cross-checking), 12:55; Bell, RPI (high sticking), 14:01; Bournbanais, RPI (high sticking), 18:44.

Third Period — 5, SLU, Horn (McGovern), 16:58. 6, SLU, Ward (Marnell, Gluchowski), 19:46 (en). Penalties — None.

Shots on goal — RPI 16-12-11—39. Saint Lawrence — 9-10-8—27.

Power-play opportunities — RPI 0-for-4. Saint Lawrence 0-for-3.

Goaltenders — RPI, Kasdorf,11-9-2 (26 shots-22 saves). Saint Lawrence, Hayton, 20-12-3 (39-38).

Referees — Mike Baker, Scott Whittemore. Linsemen — Jason Shattie, Mike Eamantian.

Attendance — 1,460.Referees — Peter Feola, Joe Carusone. Linesmen — Ryan Knapp, Glen Cooke.

Categories: College Sports

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