SCHENECTADY — The goal wasn’t pretty, the goaltending was gorgeous, but ugly won the day on Friday.
The Union men’s hockey team wasted a spectacular performance by junior goalie Jake Kupsky to tie Colgate 1-1 at Messa Rink and — coupled with a 4-2 win by Cornell over RPI — settled for second place in ECAC Hockey heading into Saturday night’s regular-season season against first-place Cornell at Messa.
Each of the forwards on Colgate’s top line, Mike Panowyk, Josh McKechney and Jared Cockrell, was robbed at some point in the game by Kupsky, but the Dutchmen (15-5-1, 20-13-2) couldn’t steal a victory, giving up the tying goal with 48.6 seconds left in regulation.
Union also wasted a power play in the final 1:42 of overtime. In fact, the Dutchmen didn’t have a shot on goal in OT, and only three in the third period, when they were nursing a 1-0 lead on a goal that bounced off Ryan Scarfo’s chest at 18:16 of the second period.
With Raiders (9-9-3, 13-14-6) goalie Colton Point on his way to the bench for an extra skater inside the final minute of regulation, Trevor Cosgrove wristed the puck through a screen to tie it.
“If you’re going to steal a game, your goalie has to be absolutely elite, and I thought that’s what Jake was tonight,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said. “He gave us a chance, and we let him down. Totally let him down.”
Kupsky finished with 24 saves and has given up just six goals while starting the last six games.
On the tying goal, it appeared that he couldn’t locate with bodies in front of him, which he confirmed after the game.
“Honestly, not really,” he said. “I was trying to fight for it. That one kid came down from the neutral zone and went behind the net, threw it up to the ‘D’ man, and since that play developed right in that corner, there were a lot of bodies in front.
“It’s one that I should probably battle better to see the puck. I don’t know if it hit somebody, but I couldn’t see it. At the same time, I feel like I let one slip away and let the guys down. I mean, it’s one minuite left, all you have to do is make saves for a minute and get out of there with a win.”
Scarfo, who scored his team-leading 19th goal, refuted Kupsky’s conclusion about who let down whom.
“He was awesome tonight, and it’s on the team outside of him,” Scarfo said. “He’s doing everything he can back there, he’s standing on his head and we let him down.”
For Bennett, a bigger concern than one game was how the Dutchmen didn’t show enough resolve to win puck battles, he said.
That’s especially troubling since not only will Cornell be coming into the rink on Saturday, but the playoffs start for the Dutchmen in two weeks, and they might not last long with what he said was spotty, inconsistent effort in Friday’s game.
“It started in practice this week,” Bennett said. “They got a little comfy, started feeling pretty good about themselves, and when it came to battle drills, they didn’t want any part of that.
“It’s maddening sometimes. The positive is we battled hard to get where we are, but just imagine if we were consistent. Maybe we’re the team that has the trophy. That’s what we have to get across. And that’s on me. We’ve got to keep pushing buttons until we get it right, because if we have this type of performance, we’re going to be out of the playoffs in the first round.”
Colgate 0 0 1 0 — 1
Union 0 1 0 0 — 1
First period — None.
Second period — 1, Union, Scarfo 19 (Maier, Brassard), 18:16. Penalties — Rinaldi, Union (boarding), 8:43; Campbell, Union (interference), 13:37;; Austin, Colgate (holding), 16:12.
Third period — 2, Colgate, Cosgrove 4 (McMann, Austin), 19:11. Penalties — Peterson, Colgate (boarding), 4:04; Brassard, Union (tripping), 14:33.
Overtime — None. Penalties — McKechney, Colgate (holding), 3:18.
Shots on goal — Colgate 9-8-6-2 — 25. Union 7-12-3-0 — 22.
Power-play opportunities — Colgate 0 of 3. Union 0 of 3.
Goaltenders — Colgate, Point 12-9-5 (22 shots-21 saves). Union, Kupsky 10-9-2(25-24) .
T — 2:27. A — 2,132. Referees — CJ Hanafin, Robert St. Lawrence. Linesmen — Jim Briggs, Christopher Piti.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.
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Categories: College Sports, Sports