Thirteen days ago, the Union College men’s hockey team’s penalty kill had an awesome game. The Dutchmen killed off all six Colorado College power plays, including a five-minute major, and that was a big reason they earned a 2-1 victory for their first win of the season.
But in their last three games, the penalty kill has been less than stellar. The Dutchmen have allowed seven power-play goals in 14 shorthanded situations.
Union knows it must shore up its penalty-killing unit, especially with ECAC Hockey play starting Friday night against Capital Region-rival RPI at Messa Rink. In the six non-conference games they have played, the Dutchmen (1-4-1) have killed 19 of 29 power plays. That’s 65.5%, and it isn’t good.
It’s been a combination of things that have cost the Dutchmen. One of those items has been the lack of discipline and taking some untimely penalties.
Sophomore forward Bram Scheerer was the unfortunate victim in both games over the weekend against Lake Superior State. In last Friday’s 7-4 loss, the Dutchmen were trailing 5-4 when Scheerer was called for goalie interference with 4:10 left in the third period. Harrison Roy scored a power-play, the Lakers’ third of the game, with 2:48 to go to effectively kill Union’s hopes of tying the score.
With the score tied 2-2 in last Saturday’s rematch, Scheerer went to the penalty box for high sticking at 11:18 of the third period. Timo Bakos scored 1:40 later to give the Lakers the lead, and they went on to a 5-2 victory.
“The PK starts with the coach and the fact that we have to be more disciplined,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said at the team’s media availability Tuesday at Messa Rink. “We can’t be going on [the penalty kill] five, six times a night, and that starts with me. In order for me to help out our coaching staff and the players on the PK is [that] I’ve got to get that message across [that] we need to be a little more disciplined.”
On the late-game penalties, Bennett said, “It’s an awareness of the game and, basically, time management, self management. We kind of got out of whack a little bit, and it’s caught us a couple of times here. Hopefully, through our shared experiences here, we’ve figured it out a little bit. So when we go into Friday night, we’ve learned a lot in those six games just through … let’s just say our mistakes.”
Union senior forward and team captain Josh Kosack said the penalty killers need to trust the system.
“It’s worked in the past,” Kosack said. “I guess it’s just a bad streak. We’re confident with the guys that coach puts out there. Everyone’s willing to do what it takes to kill those penalties. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to get the job done and we haven’t, so we definitely have to curb that.”
The Dutchmen have to be more disciplined when on the penalty kill. They can’t be caught running around in the defensive zone.
“I would just think more straight lines, a little more stops and starts,” Bennett said. “You can’t curl and twirl on the PK. Good teams will find your seams, and they’ll burn you.”
NO MORE TICKETS
If you were planning to buy tickets for Friday’s game, forget it. A Union Athletics spokesperson said there are no more tickets available for the game, and no walkup sales will be available on Friday.
RPI’s policy of allowing only students, faculty and staff to athletic events remains in effect.
Bennett said junior defenseman Dylan Anhorn and junior forward Owen Farris remain week-to-week with undisclosed injuries.
Anhorn hasn’t played since the Oct. 9 game against New Hampshire. Farris has yet to play.