SCHENECTADY — After dropping the first two games of the 2021-22 season two weekends ago against New Hampshire, the Union College men’s hockey team is feeling a lot better after going 1-0-1 against Colorado College last weekend.
Now, the Dutchmen (1-2-1) face another non-conference test this weekend before they begin ECAC Hockey play next weekend against RPI.
The Dutchmen travel to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, to take on Lake Superior State for a two-game series. Friday’s game starts at 7:07 p.m, and Saturday’s contest begins at 6:07 p.m.
“I like to think we are growing every weekend, and even moreso through practices,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said during the team’s media availability at Messa Rink. “And it’s facing different opponents [and] what you do through the course of the year. Obviously, we haven’t gotten to the league [play] yet. Different environments are huge. We got that at UNH. We got that here playing home, and now we’re going to have a different set of two games in a very tough environment against a tough team that’s overly physical and plays a good style of hockey. We just have to be ready just like we were this past weekend.”
The Dutchmen overcame adversity in last Friday’s game against the Tigers. They had to kill off six Colorado College power plays, including a five-minute major. Union junior goalie Connor Murphy stopped 34 shots in the game, including 17 on the power play.
“I think it’s important for us to just take a step every weekend,” Union senior forward and team captain Josh Kosack said. “Obviously, we didn’t start out the way we wanted to at UNH. I think our group, as a whole, really grew this past weekend. We were put into some kind of difficult moments, and we responded well. I think if we keep doing that and we put a complete 60- [minute game] together, we’ll like the result.”
Bennett may consider giving a start to a goalie other than Murphy this weekend.
Murphy has started all four games. The Hudson Falls native, who was named ECACH Goalie of the Week on Monday, has a 2.70 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.
The other goalies are Garrett Nieto, Merek Pipes and Joe Sharib.
“We’ll see how it plays out out there [and] who’s ready to go on Friday night,” Bennett said. “We’ll evaluate it and toss in whoever’s ready to go on Saturday.”
SCOUTING THE LAKERS
Lake Superior State swept NCAA Division I hockey’s newest team, St. Thomas (Minnesota), last weekend by scores of 3-1 and 6-3.
The Lakers’ top scorers are junior forward Brandon Puricelli with four goals and five assists, sophomore forward Harrison Roy with thee goals and six assists and junior forward Louis Boudon with three goals and five assists.
Roy is a transfer from Boston College. He had two goals and an assist in 23 games for the Eagles last season. Roy played in the NCAA tournament Northeast Regional last March against St. Cloud State at Times Union Center. The Eagles lost 4-1.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE
The Dutchmen and Lakers are meeting for the first time since early in the 2013-14 season. Lake Superior swept a two-game series at Messa Rink, winning 6-5 in overtime on Oct. 18, 2013, and 3-2 the next night.
Lake Superior State leads the all-time series 4-0-1. The Lakers won a two-game series in Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, Jan. 4-5, 2013, by scores of 4-1 and 3-1.
The tie took place in the first round of the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament on Nov. 27, 2009. Neither team scored in 65 minutes of action and Union won 1-0 in a shootout to advance to the tournament final, where it beat RPI 5-4 the next night.