Hauge gets first Union College men’s hockey win in dramatic fashion, 4-3 over RIT

Union College forward Chris Theodore splits two RIT defenders on one skate with the puck during the season-opener against the Tigers on Saturday at Messa Rink in Schenectady.
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Union College forward Chris Theodore splits two RIT defenders on one skate with the puck during the season-opener against the Tigers on Saturday at Messa Rink in Schenectady.

SCHENECTADY Maybe Josh Hauge would have preferred an easy victory for his first win as Union College men’s hockey coach.

But coming back in dramatic fashion to earn the first win will be much more memorable than a non-competitive contest.

The Dutchmen overcame a pair of two-goal deficits and going 0 for 6 on the power play to pull out a 4-3 non-conference season-opening victory over RIT before a standing room-only crowd of 2,401 Saturday at Messa Rink.

Freshman right winger Carter Korpi scored twice, including the game-winner on a breakaway with 1:33 left in the third period to give Union the lead.

When asked what kind of first win he would have preferred, Hauge chuckled.

“That’s a good question,” said Hauge, who was hired in mid-April after serving as an assistant coach at Clarkson. “I’m excited about how it happened. I think we can gain a ton from it. It showed some character and grit to be able to fight through and keep going. I’m proud of the guys for that. I guess I would have probably taken an easy win, but I think we’ll gain more from this.”

Hauge was presented with the puck in the locker room celebration.

“It was a lot of fun,” Hauge said. “For me, this was a dream come true. Just to be on the bench and that atmosphere. I had no idea it was going to be that great. It couldn’t be a better night, and now it’s going to be a long night to get ready for tomorrow [for a game at Army West Point].”

The players were happy for Hauge.

“It was awesome.,” junior center Liam Robertson said. “Always giving the coach the puck for his first win on the new job is exciting, and I’m sure [it was exciting] for him, but for us as well. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

For a majority of the game, it appeared that Hauge and the Dutchmen were going to drop the season opener.

RIT took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Tanner Anderson midway through the period and Evan Miller late in the frame.

Korpi got Union on the board just over 2 1-2 minutes into the second period when he took a pass from Nate Hanley and beat goalie Tommy Scarfone.

“There was a turnover at the top of the zone,” said Hanley, who had two assists in the game. “I had the puck. I heard [Korpi] screaming, so I just moved it over to him.”

RIT regained its two-goal lead a short time later when Cody Laskosky beat goalie Connor Murphy glove side on a shot from the right circle. Caden Villegas, who had just come out of the penalty box after serving a roughing penalty, took a Chris Theodore pass from the left wing on a 2-on-1, and fired a shot into the net at 5:38 to make it 3-2.

What could have cost Union the game was its inability to score on the power play, especially in the second period when it had four opportunities that included two 5-on-3s.

“It was frustrating in the sense that we didn’t score, but I think the amount of time that we’ve been able to put into it, I think that’s an area where you’re going to see a vast improvement quickly,” Hauge said. “The 5-on-3 is 100% my fault. We have not worked on that enough. We walked through it for a minute, but that’s that that falls directly on my shoulders.”

RIT couldn’t get the momentum of killing off those power plays.

“I don’t think we played very hard on pucks, [and] in the third period in general,” RIT head coach Wayne Wilson said. “A lot of passes were up the middle off of our sticks to them. We’ve got to be stronger on pucks in those situations.”

Union got stronger as the game went into the third period. The Dutchmen took control when Josh Nixon and Theodore connected for the “Transfer Portal Goal.” Nixon, who transferred to Union from Lake Superior State, sent a pass to Theodore, an American International transfer, on the left side. Theodore returned the pass to Nixon, who fired it home.

Korpi’s game-winner was a thing of beauty. John Prokop sent Korpi in on a breakaway. RIT defenseman Douglas Scott tried in vain to poke the puck away from Korpi. But Korpi kept the puck, faked a forehand shot and then lifted a backhander past a helpless Scarfone.

“Me and [Bram] Scheerer were tied up behind the [RIT] net, and we were on top of each other,” Korpi said. “Our defense made a good play, and Prokop headmanned it. [Scott] was coming back and poked it, and fortunately I was able to hold on to it.”

  • RIT 2 1 0 — 3
  • Union 0 2 2 — 4
  • First Period — 1, RIT, Andrew 1 (Miller, Wilkie), 9:09. 2, RIT, Miller 1 (Kellenberger), 19:35. Penalties — Isabelle, RIT (slashing), 14:31.
  • Second Period — 3, Union, Korpi 1 (Hanley), 2:38. 4, RIT, Laskosky 1, 4:48. 5, Union, Villegas 1 (Theodore, Hanley), 5:38. Penalties — Hansen-Bukata, RIT (roughing), 3:22; Villegas, Uni (roughing), 3:22; Wilkie, RIT (roughing), 8:16; Young, Uni (roughing), 8:16; Hansen-Bukata, RIT (holding), 9:57; Wilkie, RIT (faceoff violation), 10:18; Lapointe, RIT (hooking), 12:42; Mahan, RIT (closing hand on puck), 14:03.
  • Third Period — 6, Union, Nixon 1 (Theodore), 6:59. 7, Union, Korpi 2 (Prokop), 18:27. Penalties — Andrew, RIT (holding), 1:44.
  • Shots on Goal — RIT 9-8-8 — 25. Union 9-14-10 — 33.
  • Power-play opportunities — RIT 0 of 0; Union 0 of 6.
  • Goalies — RIT, Scarfone 0-1-0 (33 shots-29 saves). Union Murphy 1-0-0 (25-22).
  • A — 2,401. T — 2:10.
  • Referees — Kevin Graber, Anthony Kenney. Linesmen — Mike Montagna, Michael St. Lawrence.

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