SCHENECTADY — The Boston Globe posted a Q&A with North Chelmsford, Mass.’s, Ryan Scarfo last week, in which he revealed that he’s an avid cook who can put together a pretty mean steak.
According to Union head coach Rick Bennett, his senior wing also has a mean streak.
You hear about players who are all sizzle and no steak, but Scarfo has been the opposite of that for the Dutchmen this season.
He has put a lot on his plate for Union and is one of the primary reasons the team, picked sixth in the preseason poll, is in position to pull out another Cleary Cup for the ECAC Hockey regular-season championship with two games left this weekend.
The odds are against it — and Union has to get some help from crosstown rival RPI on Friday — but the fact that the second-place Dutchmen (15-5-0 ECACH, 20-13-1 overall) are even in this spot is a testament to Scarfo’s contributions.
Not only does he lead the team in goals (18) and points (31), he is part of what Bennett calls the leadership group, and he’s been durable despite unofficially leading the team in driving shoulders into Union opponents.
The next time Scarfo doesn’t skate hard into a forecheck will be the first time.
“I think he’s been more consistent this year,” Bennett said. “It seems like every game he’s doing something to make a positive impact on the game for us, whether it be a goal or a backcheck, a big hit.
“He’s a different type of player. There aren’t many around that can skate, shoot, being a top-line guy, but also being a physical presence. He’s definitely played mean this year.”
“He came back this year fired up to prove people wrong,” junior defenseman Greg Campbell said. “He’s been in the right place at the right time, going into the dirty areas where a lot of people don’t want to go. That’s where you get the goals.”
The Dutchmen need victories at Messa Rink against Colgate on Friday and first-place Cornell on Saturday, which is Senior Night for Scarfo and three other players, for a chance to share the Cleary Cup. The Big Red would clinch sole possession with a victory over RPI on Friday.
The Engineers have won just five games this season, but one was 2-1 over Cornell three weeks ago.
“Can they beat that team twice? Who knows?” Bennett said. “Anything can happen in college hockey. They’re going to have their work cut for them.
“It’s going to be a tough haul for RPI, but all we have to worry about is taking care of our backyard and see what happens. If we can play for a trophy on Saturday night, then great. If not, then it wasn’t meant to be, and we put ourselves in that position.”
“We’re in the hunt, but we need some help, as well,” Scarfo said. “First thing’s first, which is just take care of ourselves, keep the winning train going.”
Union has won five straight and nine of its last 10, including 3-1 over Colgate on Feb. 3. The Dutchmen lost to Cornell 4-3 that weekend.
Scarfo missed the second half of a 2-1 win over Dartmouth on Feb. 10 after a big collision, but otherwise, he and juniors Cole Maier and J.C. Brassard are the only players on the roster who have been in the lineup for all 34 games so far.
Besides Scarfo, the other seniors playing their last regular-season home games are defensemen Connor Light and J.C. Brassard, and forward Tyler Hynes of Guilderland.
The Dutchmen are guaranteed home ice for an ECACH quarterfinal series after a bye next weekend.
“It’s your last regular-season game at home,” Scarfo said. “I guess it’s kind of emotional, in that sense, and how quickly the time goes. But with that being said, you have to treat it like any other game the best you can.”
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.
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