SCHENECTADY — The trappings of captaincy were gone.
The responsibility and expectation of excellence were not.
Playing for the second game in a row without the captain’s ‘C’ on the left shoulder of his jersey, Union junior goalie Darion Hanson shut out Brown 5-0 at Messa Rink on Friday night.
Despite the loss of sophomore forwards Sam Morton and Lucas Breault, who left the program during the recent three-week break, the Dutchmen put together a complete effort against the Bears. The victory also came despite missing senior defenseman Vas Kolias, out with an injury that isn’t expected to be long-term.
He and Hanson were named co-captains just before the start of the season, but when the Dutchmen took the ice on Friday, junior forwards Sean Harrison and Josh Kosack wore A’s, for alternate captain, and Hanson’s shoulder was blank.
Then he blanked Brown on 25 saves for his second shutout of the season, as Union improved to 3-4-0 in ECAC Hockey and 4-11-0 overall. The Dutchmen won back-to-back for the first time this year, following a 2-1 overtime win at Princeton, and also won at Messa for the first time in seven home games.
“There was no drama. There’s no drama now,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said, of relieving Hanson and Kolias of official captaincy. “It was just the fact we wanted to have a community leadership group. Those two guys are still captains. Everyone knows it. Everyone in that lockerroom knows it, the coaching staff knows it. I’m alerting you guys and whoever wants to read the papers that, but I just wanted to take a little bit of pressure off those guys and make it a little more community [based].”
“Everything that has been going on with us, struggling to score, struggling to defend at times, losing two of our players, and then for us to come out and absolutely stomp on that team,” Hanson said, “I am so proud of our group, that’s two in a row for us, and it really does show that we are growing as a group, and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Union pretty much put the game away with a 3-0 first period.
Anthony Rinaldi opened the scoring 1:16 after the puck dropped, hitting the top right corner of the net from the inside edge of the left circle after picking up a turnover deep in the offensive zone.
Matt Allen, whose hometown of Smithfield, Rhode Island, is 15 miles from Brown University in Providence, got his first point as a college player when he made it 2-0 at 9:45, 15 seconds after a penalty to Brown’s Bradley Cocca.
Allen skated in from the right circle and finished a give-and-go with Harrison.
“We worked on that a lot, it was not really a set play,” Harrison said. “I was a release point, and I saw Matty was in trouble, so I got open for him to give me the puck and he drove the net on a really good play and I was able to find him in the hole there. Really good to see him get his first goal. It’s a big lift off his shoulders getting the first one.”
The Dutchmen went up 3-0 when Harrison easily tapped in a pass from Christian Sanda on a 2-on-1, as the speedy Sanda came up right wing and patiently waited for Harrison to get to the crease.
“Christian did all the work on that one,” Harrison said. “He used his speed, I presented my stick for him and he was able to put it right on my tape. I didn’t have to do much.”
In the second period, Kosack rang one off the pipe after Owen Farris hustled the length of the ice on a clear-in and was able to force the puck in front for a 4-0 lead, and defenseman Michael Ryan made it 5-0 at 14:42 of the second by skating behind the Brown net and stuffing it in on the other side.
Brown head coach Brendan Whittet, who declined to be interviewed after the game, pulled goalie Luke Kania at that point and sent Gavin Nieto out there.
The Dutchmen outscored the Bears 2-0 in the second period despite being outshot 10-3.
Venturing from the net
The biggest cheer of the night came in the third period, when Hanson came way out of the net to play a puck sliding toward him, and stickhandled around Brown’s Trey Dodd barreling in on him.
“You’ve watched me play for two years, you know I never play the puck,” Hanson said, laughing. “I had the puck on my stick, I didn’t know what to do, it was probably only half a second, but it felt like a whole minute I was standing out there by myself. Finally, Brandon [Estes] came and got it. I did enjoy the cheers and the response from the bench.”
Union freshman forward Liam Robertson was injured in the second period and was helped off the ice without putting any weight on his right skate. Bennett said Robertson probably was “day-to-day.”
Brown 0 0 0 — 0
Union 3 2 0 — 5
First period — 1, Union, Rinaldi 3 (Smedsrud, Harrison), 1:16. 2, Union, Allen 1 (Harrison, Campolieto), 9:45 (pp). 3, Union, Harrison 4 (Sanda, Schmidt), 15:55. Penalties — Cocca, B (holding), 9:30.
Second period — 4, Union, Kosack 1, 12:09. 5, Union, Ryan 1 (Seger, Smedsrud), 14:42. Penalties — Cocca, B (tripping), 9:29.
Third period — None. Penalties — Allen, U (tripping), 5:48; Quisenberry, B (slashing), 12:30; Farris, U (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:37; Ferrario, B (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:37.
Shots on goal — Brown 9-10-6 — 25. Union 12-3-6 — 21.
Power-play opportunities — Brown 0 of 1. Union 1 of 3.
Goalies — Brown, Kania L, 1-3-0 (34:42, 15 shots-10 saves); Gav. Nieto (24:55, 6-6). Union, Hanson W, 4-11-0 (25-25).
T — 2:10. A — 1,482.
Referees — Matt Wyld, Cameron Lynch. Linesmen — Dmitry Antipin, Michael Emanation.