SCHENECTADY — After not playing last year because Union hockey canceled its 2020-21 season because of the coronavirus, the last thing junior defenseman Dylan Anhorn wanted to do was miss games this season
But as luck would have hit, Anhorn was injured in the second game of the season against New Hampshire on Oct. 9. It forced him to miss the next eight games.
Anhorn returned to the lineup two weekends ago at Cornell and Colgate. He will be in the lineup Saturday when the Dutchmen visit Merrimack in a non-conference game at 4 p.m. at Lawler Rink in North Andover, Massachusetts.
“Obviously, that’s super disheartening,” Anhorn said after practice Wednesday at Messa Rink. “It’s not what you want to see. Luckily, it wasn’t as long as was anticipated. I just took that news and tried to use this as more adversity to overcome and just do everything I could to get myself ready for when I was back, which happened to be, luckily enough, the previous weekend we had games. Luckily, we got that win against Colgate. We’ve been working hard these last two [days] in preparing for [Merrimack].
Lawler wouldn’t say what the specific nature of the injury. But it didn’t prevent him from scoring a goal early in the third period to give Union a 2-1 lead.
“Honestly, it was a routine play that just caused something to cause a ‘middle-body injury,’” Anhorn said. “It was just an unlucky circumstance. Hopefully, I’ll look past it now and get back to [playing].”
Anhorn had two blocked shots in the 2-0 victory over Colgate on Nov. 13. He has six blocks in four games.
“He’s a hockey player,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said. “He’s a very diligent guy in how he goes about his business in school and hockey. I think it was getting him right down to the core not playing, and you could see it. To see him back [two weeks ago], you felt happy for him.”
The Dutchmen return to action after being off since the Colgate win to take their final exams for the first trimester. In the victory over the Raiders, goalie Connor Murphy made 34 saves, and his teammates blocked 16 shots.
Union won’t have to worry about going to class again until Jan. 3. Starting with the Merrimack matchup, the Dutchmen will have seven games before starting the second trimester.
“It’s been a little bit of a hectic schedule here during finals,” Bennett said. “We’re really cognizant and aware of what they’re going through, through finals here. We’ve given more days off than we ever have just because of the grind of the academic side. I have to say they battled through it, but you could see that their mindset, rightly so, was on the academic side versus coming out and having a practice.
“[Wednesday] was better. Hopefully, when we go to Merrimack and [have a] practice there, they are tuned in and ready to go because, believe it or not, we go live on Saturday. We better be ready.”
Merrimack is 6-7 this season, including 3-6 in Hockey East. The Warriors have won two straight and three of their last four. They defeated Holy Cross 3-2 on Tuesday.
Graduate student forward Max Newton and junior forwards Filip Forsmark and Ben Brar are tied for the team lead in goals with six. Newton leads the team with 14 points.
Sophomore Zachary Borgiel has started nine games in goal. He is 4-4-1 with a 3.05 goals-against average and an .885 save percentage.
Merrimack leads the all-time series 9-8-2. However, Union has won the last four games. In the last meeting, the Dutchmen pulled out a 3-2 victory at Messa Rink on Dec. 13, 2019.