SCHENECTADY — In its last two games, both victories, the Union College men’s hockey team paid attention to detail.
If the Dutchmen want to come out of the weekend with a sweep of their final ECAC Hockey games of 2021, they must continue to do that, especially with the nation’s fourth-ranked team coming to Messa Rink this weekend.
But before Union worries about Saturday’s matchup with Quinnipiac, it must contend with Princeton tonight at 7 p.m. at Messa.
While Union head coach Rick Bennett was happy with the team’s recent results, a 2-0 win at Colgate Nov. 13 and a 3-2 triumph at Merrimack last Saturday, he wasn’t pleased with how the team practiced Tuesday. Because of that, the practice went past the time it was supposed to end.
Bennett expressed his frustration at Tuesday’s media availability.
“We’re a focus-on-today type of team,” Bennett said. “[Tuesday’s] practice is evident of that. We’ve got to come to the rink like we want to be hockey players. [Practice] was not good. It was longer than it needed to be, but [there were] some good lessons in there, too. There were some positives, but overall, we’ve got a lot to work on.”
Before Bennett spoke to the media, senior defenseman Brandon Estes arrived in the media room and slumped in the chair and mentioned how tough Tuesday’s practice was. During the media availability. Union senior forward and team captain Josh Kosack was asked about how practice was going. Kosack smiled before answering, knowing how tough Tuesday’s practice was.
“We’ve got to do a better job with attention to detail,” Kosack said. “We can’t get too high off of one win. It was great to beat Merrimack, but it’s back into league play, and we have two really solid teams coming in this weekend. We have to clean some things up during practice. We’re excited for this weekend.”
The Dutchmen’s penalty kill has played a role in the wins. They have killed off seven opposition power plays in the last two games.
“It’s just something we work on a lot in practice,” Estes said. “There’s multiple times a week we work on that. It’s a lot of stick detail, taking away time and space, when to pressure and not pressure.”
Bennett won’t be satisfied with a split this weekend.
“You don’t want to go into it thinking you want a split,” Bennett said. “That’s not how we’re thinking.”
The Tigers are tied for eighth in ECACH play with a 2-2 record for 6 points and 3-4-1 overall. Like Union, Princeton and the five other Ivy League teams in the ECACH didn’t play last season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Princeton is coming off a pair of losses to RIT last weekend by scores of 4-3 and 1-0.
Senior forward Finn Evans and sophomore forward Ian Murphy are tied for the team lead in scoring with four goals and four assists for eight points. Senior forward Corey Andonovski is the team’s top goal scorer with five.
Goaltending appears to be an issue. Junior Aidan Porter has a 3.01 goals-against average in three games. Senior Jermaine Forget has a 4.41 GAA in four games. Freshman Ethan Pearson has appeared in one game and has a 5.07 GAA.
Since winning the 2018 ECACH tournament, the Tigers have gone 19-42-9. The Tigers were 6-20-5 in 2019-20.
Union leads the series
The Bobcats (3-0-1) are tied for third with Clarkson with 11 points, and they are 10-1-3 overall. Their only loss was against North Dakota.
Senior defenseman Zach Metsa leads the team in scoring with two goals and 12 assists for 14 points. Quinnipiac’s top goal scorer is sophomore forward Ty Smilanic with seven.
Quinnipiac is strong in goal. Freshman Yaniv Perets is 6-0-2 with a 1.06 GAA, four shutouts and a .939 save percentage. Graduate Dylan St. Cyr is 4-1-1 with a 1.75 GAA, one shutout and a .906 save percentage.
Quinnipiac leads the series 20-17-5.