ALBANY — The Union women’s hockey team had all the answers against RPI this weekend.
Well, except one.
When head coach Josh Sciba was asked where the trophy would go, he grinned and said, ‘You know what, I don’t know. That’s a good question.”
The Dutchwomen defeated the Engineers 2-0 at the Times Union Center on Saturday, and will now have to figure out where to display the Mayor’s Cup that came with it.
That completed a weekend sweep good for four points in the ECAC Hockey standings and gave Union the Mayor’s Cup for the first time since the women’s game was added three years ago.
Although Union controlled play for much of the game, it was still 0-0 as the end of the third period approached, but the Dutchwomen finally broke through when sophomore Grace Heiting slipped one past goalie Amanda Rampado at 14:43 from a tight angle.
Carmen Merlo added an empty-netter with 9.9 seconds left to clinch it.
“Coming into this game, we had a lot of talk, especially from the upperclassmen, saying how amazing it would be for the seniors to win it as they head out,” Heiting said. “They were really instilling the meaning of this rivalry between Union and RPI really early in their college career, so we were able to jump on that. So it’s exciting for us, but also to see their faces when they finally won it was really touching.”
“I’m proud of them for the entire weekend,” Sciba said. “Collectively, as a team, I thought we were really good this weekend. We played extremely well in all three zones and earned the four points.”
The Dutchwomen (5-7-3, 5-17-5), who have never made the ECACH playoffs, defeated RPI 5-1 Friday night and dominated in shots 36-16 on Saturday, but couldn’t bury one until late.
RPI dodged a bullet with 3:45 left in the first period when Union’s Maia Martinez beat Rampado to her glove side, but clanked the shot off the right post.
On Heiting’s goal, she did well to pinch a clearing pass on the boards to preserve a possession, and she had a teammate to pass to skating between the circles, but chose to shoot instead and was rewarded with her fifth goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.
“I’ve been told a lot by coach Sciba this season to just put pucks on net and take shots from everywhere,” Heiting said. “So if there was even the smallest little bit of an angle, rip it on net and see what happens.”
“It was a tight angle, and I think I should’ve gotten my blocker down a little bit, and she found a way to sneak it through,” Rampado said. “I was anticipating the pass, so I may have left the post open a little bit.”
RPI couldn’t get Rampado off the ice for an extra skater until 38 seconds left, and Merlo clinched it with her second goal of the season.
The Engineers remained winless, at 0-16-0 in the conference and 0-26-1 overall.
“She’s [Rampado] been a bright light for us in a tough year. She held us in there right down to the wire,” RPI head coach Bryan Vines said. “They [Union] had a great weekend. I thought we struggled with their team speed all weekend. They were really hungry to get their first one, so congratulations to them. They played two great games against us.”
Union 0 0 2 — 2
RPI 0 0 0 — 0
First period — None. Penalties — Dalby, RPI (tripping), 12:34; de Perio, U (hooking), 13:55.
Second period — None. Penalties — de Perio, U (checking), 4:27; Hayes, RPI (slashing), 12:03.
Third period — 1, Union, Heiting 5 (Melone), 14:43. 2, Union, Merlo 2 (ua), 19:51 (en).
Shots on goal — Union 11-13-12 — 36
RPI 5-4-7 — 16
Power-play opportunities — Union 0 of 2. RPI 0 of 2.
Goalies — Union, McKee 5-14-5 (16 shots-16 saves). RPI, Rampado 0-7-0 (35-34).
A — 1,362. T — 2:00.
Referees — Robert Cerilli, Michael St. Lawrence. Linesmen — Justin Desantis, Scott Steinel.