In an up-and-down, .500 sorta season for the Union men’s hockey team, maybe it should be no surprise a high point of the year comes in a tie.
The 3-3 tie against No.1 Quinnipiac Saturday at Messa Rink keeps the Dutchmen in the hunt for getting home games in the ECAC Hockey playoffs. Still, it was not a win.
It just felt like one in many ways.
“We played an excellent hockey game against the No. 1 team in the country,” Union coach Rick Bennett said.
If this was the last game the Dutchmen seniors play at Messa Rink — Sebastien Gingras was injured and out — they can depart without regrets.
It felt like a win after Union kept up with the Bobcats stride-for-stride in a quick scoreless first period.
It felt like a win after the Dutchmen stayed composed after not once but twice tying the game, only to fall behind again less than a minute and a half later.
And it felt like a win when Eli Lichtenwald scored on one of the prettiest goals of the season to knot the game at 3 with 8:25 to go in the third on a one-timer from Michael Pontarelli. Pontarelli drifted to the right of Bobcats goalie Michael Carteig on a two-on-one, waiting for a sliding defenseman to clear.
Pass across the slot. One-time. Boom.
“I just had the easy job,” said Lichtenwald, a junior center who rooms with his classmate/linemate Pontarelli. “It was all Mike.”
Barring some extreme luck, the Dutchmen (5-8-7 ECACH, 12-11-9 overall) will likely be on the road for the postseason. There are likely no realistic dreams of 2014 with this team; a conference title is likely out of reach. For Quinnipiac (14-5, 23-2-7), everything is still on the table.
Then again, this Union team is playing better than its place in the standings, challenging the “You are what your record says you are” cliché.
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” J.C. Brassard said when asked if the Dutchmen right now are better than their record. “We have just been a little bit unlucky. It’s there.”
So who knows.
But on this Senior Night at Messa Rink, these two teams were equals, down to the score and shots on goal (29-28 Quinnipiac). Afterward, Bennett said he is looking forward to seeing how many scoring chances Union actually had Saturday. He knows how many it did on Jan. 7, in an embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Bobcats in Hamden, Conn. — three.
“The last seven or eight games, we’ve played really well,” Lichtenwald said. “[But] at the end of the day, we tied tonight.”
But not all ties are the same. The same could be said for .500 teams.
Union honored it five seniors Saturday: captain and left wing Matt Wilkins, Gingras, right wing Nick Cruice, center David Roy and left wing Theo Di Pauli. Roy got a rare start this season with Brett Supinski out of the lineup.
Quinnipiac 0 2 1 0 — 3
Union 0 1 2 0 — 3
First Period — None. Penalties — Scarfo, Uni (interference), 1:24
Second Period — 1, Quinnipiac, St. Denis 17 (Anas, Smith), 14:02. 2, Union, Vecchione 9 (Wilkins, Taylor), 17:27 (PP). 3, Quinnipiac Clifton 6 (Tiefenwerth, MacMaster), 18:21. Penalties — Scarfo, Uni (interference), 1:24; Clifton, Qui (slashing), 6:01; Di Pauli, Uni (roughing), 6:01; Vecchione, Uni (boarding), 6:47; Towes, Qui (cross-checking), 17:20.
Third Period — 4, Union, Brassard 2 (Scarfo), 4:29. 5, Quinnipiac, Jonzzon 7 (McKernan, Tiefenwerth), 6:07. 6, Union, Lichtenwald 6 (Pontarelli, Brassard), 13:35. Penalties — Cruice, Uni (interference), 1:23; Tiefenwerth, Qui (slashing), 1:38; Tiefenwerth, Qui (hooking), 3:52; Roy, Uni (hitting from behind), 3:52; Johnzzon, Qui (hooking), 13:35.
Shots on Goal — Quinnipiac 7-12-6-4 — 29. Union 7-9-6-6 — 28.
Power-play opportunities — Quinnipiac 0 of 3; Union 1 of 3.
Goalies — Quinnipiac, Garteig 23-2-7 (28 shots-25 saves). Union, Sakellaropoulos 10-9-7 (29-26).
A — 2,011. T — 2:18.
Referees — Joe Carusone, Peter Feola. Linesmen — Michael Emanatian, Adam Wood.
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Categories: College Sports