SCHENECTADY — There’s no formula for winning.
But for the first time this season, the Union men’s hockey team got a close look at some of the ingredients.
Coming off a 2-1 victory over RPI at Houston Field House — the Dutchmen’s first win in eight games to start the season — Union will try to duplicate some of the qualities that produced that result when they play games at Canisius at 7:30 Friday and 4 on Saturday.
With an 0-7-0 start hanging over their heads, the Dutchmen put together a badly needed win in which they played consistently from start to finish, which they’ll try to use as a template for all future games.
“Just sticking to our process, remembering the things we did well,” sophomore center Sam Morton said. “There’s still things we can improve on, but enjoy the feeling we got after it and have that motivate us to do it again.
“It definitely helps with morale around the rink. People get excited to come to practice and be a part of a winning culture.”
“It was a relief for a lot of us to get that first win under our belts, and hopefully it becomes a streak,” senior wing Anthony Rinaldi said. “The No. 1 thing was playing a full 60 [minutes]. That was our best game in that area, playing great in all three periods, and we’ve got to do that moving forward.”
“It was probably the quietest bus ride after a win at RPI that we’ve ever had, and I think a lot that had to do with it was it was so draining,” head coach Rick Bennett said. “They realized how hard you have to work to get a win. I think that’s what they learned the most, and the energy has been good at practice.”
Against RPI, senior Zach Emelifeonwu gave Union a 2-0 lead with goals late in the first period and early in the third.
A team that had struggled just to get shots on net had 14 in the first period, but more importantly, many of them came from below the faceoff dots and in front of the crease.
Union also was organized on defensive zone exits, making smoother transitions to offense, which had been a problem.
“I think we need to maintain our speed,” Bennett said. “I thought we were every bit as fast as them. And I didn’t quite see that in the UMass games. RPI was maybe a step faster than us the first night, but not the second.
“Fast of mind. Fast with your passing. Passing makes you faster. That’s why we work on it so much here. It’s getting better, but we’re far from there.”
“It was the first time we had an outcome that feels like we’re headed in the right direction,” Morton said. “But it’s time to redial and refocus.”
That means concentrating on an opponent that has lost three games by a combined 20-3, including 7-2 to RPI on Oct. 19.
Last weekend, Canisius played an exhibition against the Team USA Under-18 team and lost 3-1.
The Golden Griffins, picked to finish last in the 11-team Atlantic Hockey, tied Union 2-2 and lost 5-3 in two games at Messa Rink last season.
Despite Canisius’ record, the Dutchmen aren’t in a position to take anyone lightly.
“I don’t know if we should be ordering the convertibles just yet, at 1-7,” Bennett said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do here to get better, and it starts in practice. From what I’ve seen for two days, it’s been good, so let’s just try to keep it in that direction.”
The weekend’s games will be a homecoming Union sophomore defenseman Ryan Sidorski of Williamsville, although he is coming off a benching on Saturday, the first game he has missed this season.
“That would be, as you called it, a sitdown,” Bennett said. “We just felt that Ryan needed to see the game in a different light and take a step back, have a breather, get back to his game. Once he does, he’s a top-four defenseman for us, just like he was last year.
“I just thought he was high-risk and low-reward, and we didn’t see that in his game last year. He was our rookie of the year for a reason. He was steady. He was tough to play against, and I haven’t quite seen that. Until we see it through practice, he’ll get in the game. If we don’t see it, he’s going to be in Section P [for Parents]. Sometimes you go into your sophomore year and try to do a little more, and a little more, and at this time, we don’t need that. We just need him to play his solid game.”