SCHENECTADY — Union College freshman goalie Kyle Chauvette was sitting on the bench last Friday at XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, watching his teammates take on UConn.
But early in the third period, senior goalie Connor Murphy, who was starting his 61st consecutive game, left the game with a cramp. Suddenly, Chauvette had to make his collegiate debut, with the Dutchmen trailing 3-1 and having to kill a UConn power play.
What a welcome to college hockey.
But Chauvette didn’t allow a goal, making 11 saves in the third period of Union’s 4-1 loss (UConn scored an empty-net goal late in the third). The next day, Chauvette got his first collegiate start, which ended Murphy’s streak. Chauvette made 28 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Huskies.
Chauvette didn’t really have time to be nervous when he replaced Murphy 4:10 into the third period. Union defenseman had been called for a slashing penalty at that time.
“It was definitely a surprise going in, especially that late in the game,” Chauvette said during Union’s media availability Tuesday in advance of Thursday’s 7 p.m. non-conference matchup against Bentley at Messa Rink. “Honestly, I think it worked out for me. I didn’t have time to think about it. Just kind of went in and [it] just gave me a chance to go and play my game and get some experience. Overall, I thought it was good.”
After looking at the tapes of the two games, Union coach Josh Hauge was pleased with how Chauvette played over the weekend and how he handled the situation Friday.
“He was a true pro in that in that sense,” Hauge said. “He went right in, and we kind of talked about it. I was like, ‘Do you want a timeout to settle it down?’ And he was like, ‘Well, I don’t know, maybe.’
“You can see it on video. I’m yelling, ‘Do you want the timeout?’ And he’s like, ‘No, I’m good.’ It was a tough situation to go into. They had a power play. He dialed it right in, and he was outstanding. A lot of confidence in him from us.”
Chauvette’s teammates were impressed with his efforts.
“He was fantastic [last] weekend coming in,” Dutchmen junior center Liam Robertson said. “To relieve ‘Murph’ on Friday, and then his first start on Saturday, you couldn’t have asked for anything better. He kept us in the game. He played outstanding, and hopefully you’ll see more of that.”
Whether that will be Thursday won’t be decided until some time before the game. Hauge said Murphy has been looking good in practices this week and could be ready to start.
“We haven’t really discussed it as a staff,” Hauge said. “Connor has been the starter here and a guy that we’ll probably lean on a lot. If you asked me right now, that’s probably where we’re leaning. But we haven’t made any final decisions with that.”
Chauvette came to Union after playing two seasons for the U.S. Hockey League’s Youngstown Phantoms. He played in 37 games last season, going 15-13-7 with a 3.33 goals-against average. He was named USHL Goalie of the Week twice. Chauvette represented USA Hockey on the U-17 Five Nations Team in Ostrava, Czech Republic in 2017.
Asked what kind of style he plays, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Chauvette said, “I don’t know if I have a specific style. I’d say I’m kind of a butterfly hybrid kind of style of play, but I’m competitive. I like to compete for every puck. I’m quick down low [and] can read plays well. Not being huge at like 6-4, [I’m] only about 6-1, I have to be able to maintain my feet a lot of the time, too, so that’s where that hybrid style play comes in.”
Union’s power-play struggles continued last weekend, going 0 for 6 in the two games against UConn. It was made worse when UConn’s Jake Flynn scored a shorthanded goal 4:41 into the second period Saturday.
The Dutchmen are 0 for 13 on the power play in their first four games. They are getting chances. Robertson, who led the team with eight power-play goals last season, believes the slump will end.
“I think we took a step in the right direction,” Robertson said. “We got a lot more pucks towards the net. Now we’ve just got to start winning those battles in the corner and getting [the puck] back up top and then getting them back down on the net. It’s kind of like a repeat thing. But one of the times, we’re going to have like a lucky bounce go off a shin pad or something. I think that’s going to jump start us. I think that’s going to give us the confidence to start putting more on the back of the net.”
Bentley hasn’t played since Oct. 1, when it dropped an 8-2 non-conference decision to Boston University. Junior defenseman Nick Bochen, a transfer from Quinnipiac, scored one of Bentley’s goals.
The Falcons were 10-14-2 in Atlantic Hockey last season, and 14-20-2 overall. Their top returning scorers are junior forward Cole Kodsi and senior forward Matt Gosiewski with 23 points each. Kodsi had 10 goals and 13 assists, while Gosiewski collected seven goals and 16 assists.
This will be the third meeting between the two teams, all at Messa. Union won both games, a 5-1 win Nov. 2, 2003, and 8-1 rout on Oct. 28, 2005.
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