Union hockey gets back to the grind

Dutchmen trying to shake off a sweep by RPI heading into a home weekend against St. Lawrence and Clarkson
Union's Brett Supinski, right, flips the puck past Patrick Polino in RPI's 5-3 win on Friday, Oct. 26.
Union's Brett Supinski, right, flips the puck past Patrick Polino in RPI's 5-3 win on Friday, Oct. 26.

Union men’s hockey coach Rick Bennett blamed himself for “taking the foot off the pedal” heading into last weekend’s home-and-home series against RPI.

He gave the Dutchmen last Tuesday off as an “academic day,” to get caught up on schoolwork and maybe get a little extra sleep and recovery from the first five games of the season.

Break’s over.

In the wake of a 5-3, 4-2 sweep by the Engineers, Union’s first losses of the young season, the Dutchmen (4-2-1) are back into grind mode this week heading into 7 p.m. home games against St. Lawrence (1-5-0) Friday and Clarkson (5-3-2) Saturday at Messa Rink.

“You kind of want to get over it,” senior center Brett Supinski said. “It happened, it’s done with, you’ve got to move on. But at the same time, you kind of have to use that as fire. You want that to motivate you, and you want to get back in the win column and play games the way you’re supposed to.”

Union lost Friday despite a 2-0 lead in the first period, during which the Dutchmen outshot the Engineers 15-1. They lost Saturday after falling behind 4-0 through two periods.

While the RPI sweep left a bitter taste for Union, Bennett observed that his team didn’t match the Engineers’ desire over the weekend.

That’s mystifying, considering the history of the rivalry separated by a short stretch of Route 7.

Bennett noted that the overall atmosphere at both rinks seemed diminished from what it usually is, for whatever reason.

“I thought the rivalry was getting stale, to be blatantly honest with you,” he said. “And why I say that is I felt their crowd — now, I don’t know if it was the World Series — but I thought that was down. It was loud.

“Then I thought we came here, and usually it’s standing room only for warmups. And I didn’t see that for the first time in a long time here. And now maybe it’s, hey, they’ve got the [Capital Skates] trophy now, and we’ve got to get the mojo back and get this thing going.”

Besides that, Union will be making some adjustments in some specific areas on the ice, especially the power play.

After starting 0-for-11 with that unit this season, the Dutchmen appeared to have it cranked up, only to drop back into a 0-for-13 slump last weekend.

“We need to tweak it and execute,” Supinski said. “We need to be more sharp. At the end of the day, specialty teams battles leads to wins.

“And we had a five-minute one on Saturday and were 1-for-9. That’s not acceptable at all. You pot a couple goals on those for a normal power-play percentage, 20, 25, it changes the game a lot. But that’s kind of how the weekend went.”

“We also have to not push the panic button,” Bennett said. “It’s never going to be easy here. We just have to get back to that. And it’s not only on the players, it’s on myself. I basically gave them some breaks last week. I have my reasons, the players know my reasons, and, guess what, it didn’t work out. So we’ll just go back to the old way.

“What we could’ve used was the Chris Sale fire on the bench. I guess that’s where I’ve got to come in. Again, it’s easy to blame the players and fault them, but I was right there with them.”


Union swept the season series against the Saints last year, 3-1 on the road and 5-4 at home.

The Saints have been outscored 23-8 in six games this season, with the only win coming against Holy Cross 4-3.

“Their ‘D’ corps has always been active, and that just creates a tough matchup,” Bennett said. “Our wingers have to be in tune with what’s going on. And I thought RPI did a good job with that, too. Their ‘D’ had lot of shots on net and were active, and I don’t think that’s something we adjusted well to.”


The Golden Knights swept Union in 2017-18, including a 4-1 win at Messa on Jan. 12 when Clarkson was ranked No. 3 in the country.

“Clarkson’s big and heavy, and they’re going to play fast,” Supinski said. 


After losing two to RPI, Union fell from 11 to 17 in the national poll and out of the top 15 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. …

Senior captain Cole Maier continues to maintain his consistent production. He has four goals and six assists for 10 points in seven games.


As eager as the Union women are to begin ECAC Hockey play this weekend, they’ll face a daunting challenge right out of the gate, against defending national champion Clarkson on the road Friday before traveling to Rochester to play St. Lawrence at the Bill Gray’s Iceplex.

Not only are the Golden Knights back in the title hunt, ranked third in both polls, but St. Lawrence, which beat Clarkson 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 19, is ranked 9/10.

“Especially the returners, we know how good these teams are, and if you make a mistake, they’ll capitalize on it,” Union junior Katelynn Russ said. “They [Clarkson] don’t let off the gas pedal at all. They know they have a title to defend, so we have to go in knowing that they’re not going to take it easy on us just because they’re the champions. They know how to get that again.”

Last year, the Dutchwomen were tied with Clarkson 1-1 after two periods at Messa and were down just 3-2 after two up north.

The Golden Knights outscored Union by a combined 8-1 in the third period of those games.

“I like the way we’ve played against them in the past, and it’s a good test for us and our kids want to pprove some different things going into league play,” head coach Josh Sciba said. “I know our group is excited to play against the defending national champion.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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