With offense clicking, Union to work on defense

'It's coming,' Coach Bennett says
Union defenseman Vas Kolias is one of the freshmen the Dutchmen are working into their blue line rotation.
Union defenseman Vas Kolias is one of the freshmen the Dutchmen are working into their blue line rotation.

Other than a shutout loss at Michigan, the Union hockey team hasn’t had any difficulty scoring this season.

So shoring up the defensive end makes all kinds of sense as the Dutchmen prepare for this weekend’s home games against St. Lawrence at 7 tonight and Clarkson on Saturday.

After an 8-2-1 start, including 4-0-0 in the ECAC, Union would like to head into Thanksgiving break by maintaining that momentum. The Dutchmen don’t play again until Dec. 2 and don’t have another home game until New Year’s Eve.

In their most recent game, a 6-4 win over Brown last Saturday, the Dutchmen erupted for three goals in the final 4:50 to come back.

There’s a bright and dark side to that — that they can turn it on with the flip of a switch, but that they’re in that spot to begin with. In four of Union’s eight victories, the game-winning goal came in the last five minutes or overtime.

“It’s a little good and bad,” senior goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos said. “We shouldn’t put ourselves in that kind of situation, especially in the third period. But it’s also a good thing because it shows the passion and hard work we have, knowing that when we’re down 4-3 that we can rally together and get a good win.”

“I think we’ve been playing pretty well [on defense] up until last weekend,” defenseman Nick DeSimone said. “We need to work on our lateral gaps, and in-zone, we need to be talking more about who we have in our man-on-man system.”

No. 15/16 Union leads Division I in goals (45) and is sixth in goals per game (4.09).

Senior captain Mike Vecchione, the ECAC player of the week for the second time this season, has 14 goals.

He made No. 7 on ESPN SportsCenter’s top 10 plays of the day on Saturday night after a balletic 360-degree goal to give the Dutchmen a 3-1 lead over Brown.

The 58 points recorded by Vecchione and linemates Spencer Foo and Sebastian Vidmar is more than 20 Division I teams have.

Head coach Rick Bennett called the defense a work in progress, especially since the coaching staff has been trying to incorporate two freshmen, Vas Kolias and Ben Newhouse, into the regular rotation.

“It’s coming. We made some tweaks this year, so it’s going to take time,” Bennett said. “Having two freshmen in there along with the other six, it takes a little bit but also requires a forward low. I just feel our wingers need a lot of work in a lot of areas, too.”

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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