SCHENECTADY — Chaz Smedsrud is good at pickpocketing.
Last Saturday at Merrimack, the Union College sophomore left winger forced a turnover that led to a Liam Robertson game-winning goal.
It was deja vu Friday night against Princeton.
Smedsrud forced another turnover, and Robertson buried it as the Dutchmen pulled out a 1-0 ECAC Hockey overtime victory over the Tigers at Messa Rink.
It was the third straight win for the Dutchmen (3-3-1 ECACH, 8 points; 5-7-2 overall). The last time they won three in a row was March 1-15, 2018, when they had a five-game winning streak.
Smesrud knocked the puck off the stick of Princeton left winger Corey Andonovski just outside the Tigers’ blue line on the left wing. The puck slid over to Robertson, who fired it over the glove of goalie Aidan Porter at 2:34 of OT.
“I kind of saw the puck bounce out in the neutral zone, and I had time to get there,” Smedsrud said. “I kind of hesitated at first there, but I ended up getting there in time. I just tried to get it by their ‘D’ [defense]. Luckily, ‘Robbie’ was there to clean up.”
Robertson, the sophomore center who earned ECACH Player of the Week on Monday for his two-goal performance against Merrimack, moved toward the puck as it drifted to the right wing once he saw the turnover.
“I saw [Smedsrud] step up, so I turned, saw him get the puck to the middle,” Robertson said. “I just grabbed the puck and saw an opening on the goalie.”
Union head coach Rick Bennett was impressed with Smedsrud’s effort.
“That was the second game in a row that Chaz has done that,” Bennett said, “kind of pickpocketed a player, kept it alive and then made a nice play after it. It’s nice to pickpocket the player, but it’s another thing to make a really nice play after … and ‘Robbie’ has been the beneficiary of it.”
The goal ended a game where scoring chances came at a premium. Princeton (2-3-0, 7 points; 3-6-1) ended up outshooting Union 34-20, including 23-11 over the final 42:34.
Porter was good. Connor Murphy was better. The junior from Hudson Falls earned his second shutout in three games. He made 34 saves in a 2-0 win over Colgate on Nov. 13.
Murphy, who also took a tripping penalty, credited his teammates for helping him.
“Whenever our team is playing their best, it’s going to help me out on the backend,” said Murphy, who lowered his goals-against average to 2.52. “I think it all starts with getting the pucks deep and working the other teams down low. I think we really stuck to that the last few games, and it’s showing that it’s working.”
Union’s penalty kill was perfect for the third straight game. The Dutchmen were 3 for 3 on the penalty kill, including one with 2:09 left in regulation when Tyler Watkins was called for high-sticking in the Princeton zone.
“We definitely didn’t, let’s just say, help ourselves with some of the penalties we had tonight,” Bennett said. “We can be smarter to help ourselves. We’ve just got to pick it up a notch and be a little bit smarter for Quinnipiac [on Saturday].”
Princeton coach Ron Fogarty knew that late power play was a great chance for his Tigers to snap a five-game winless streak. Instead, the Tigers lost their second straight 1-0 overtime game. Princeton lost to RIT last Saturday.
“I told them to score,” an upbeat Fogarty said. “You hope that your power play clicks. … When there’s an opportunity for you to score one to capture a game, you’ve got to make it count.”
The last time Union played a game that was scoreless after two periods was Dec. 29, 2019, at Vermont. The Catamounts won 2-0.
The Dutchmen host fourth-ranked Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Princeton 0 0 0 0 — 0
Union 0 0 0 1 — 1
First Period — None. Penalties — None.
Second Period — None. Penalties — Keenan, Pri (hooking), 15:55; Ferguson, Uni (interference), 19:19.
Third Period — None. Penalties — Paolini, Pri (holding), 5:00; C. Murphy, Uni, served by Hodge (tripping), 11:10; Watkins, Uni (high-sticking), 17:51.
Overtime — 1, Union, Robertson 6 (Smedsrud), 2:34. Penalties — None.
Shots on Goal — Princeton 9-13-12 — 34. Union 9-5-5-1 — 20.
Power-play opportunities — Princeton 0 of 3; Union 0 of 2.
Goalies — Princeton, Porter 2-3-0 (20 shots-19 saves). Union, C. Murphy 5-6-1 (22-22).
A — 1,250. T — 2:16.
Referees — Chris Pitoscia, Kevin Graber. Linesmen — Jason Shattie, Patrick Woodward.