Hodge’s goal in season debut ignites Union hockey’s 6-0 win over RPI

Union's Michael Hodge scores on RPI goalie Jack Watson next to Max Smolinski early in the first period on Saturday at Messa Rink.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Union's Michael Hodge scores on RPI goalie Jack Watson next to Max Smolinski early in the first period on Saturday at Messa Rink.

SCHENECTADY — Union College men’s hockey sophomore forward Michael Hodge had a strange debut to his season.

Before he even got his first shift, Hodge served a Dutchmen penalty for too many men on the ice while Union was on the power play. Having Hodge serve the penalty proved to be a stroke of genius by Dutchmen head coach Josh Hauge.

After the penalty was over, Hodge joined Bram Scheerer to create a 2-on-1 opportunity. Scheerer passed the puck to Hodge on his left. Hodge skated to the net and put a backhander past RPI goalie Jack Watson less than five minutes into the game.

That goal started the Dutchmen on their way to a 6-0 ECAC Hockey victory over the Engineers on Saturday before 2,115 fans at Messa Rink.

The victory not only earned Union (1-1-0 ECACH, 3 points; 3-6-1 overall) a split of the weekend series with RPI (1-1-0, 3 points; 5-2-0) — the Engineers won 2-1 Friday at Houston Field House — it also snapped the Dutchmen’s four-game losing streak.

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Hauge said it was Hodge who suggested that he serve the bench minor.

“We talked about selflessness,” Hauge said. “There’s a bench minor, and he looked right at me. He said, ‘Coach, I got it if you need me.’ You want to get them involved, too, right away because he was in as the 13th forward. You get those opportunities to get somebody ice time, and it worked out that he got put into a spot where he got a rush right away and he was able to finish.”

Hodge called his season debut surreal.

“Every time you go in to serve a penalty, you’re hoping to get either a breakaway or some type of scoring chance,” Hodge said. “I saw the play developing a little bit. I saw ‘Brammer’ get a jump. I don’t even know if the D-man knew that I was coming out of the box. I was wide open. ‘Brammer’ made an unreal pass, and I was lucky enough to slip it by the goalie.”

Hodge, who had five goals and five assists in 33 games last season, has been waiting for an opportunity to get into the lineup.

“It’s a little frustrating, but you’ve just got to keep your head up high,” Hodge said, “make sure you’re supporting your teammates at all times, always keep working hard in practice and keep doing your thing because you know that if there’s going to be injuries or sickness, you’ll get a chance to play.

Everything seemed to go right for Union in the rematch. The Dutchmen blocked 19 shots, compared to the Engineers’ four, went 3 for 4 on the power play, were 6 for 6 on the penalty kill, won 33 of 54 faceoffs and got goalie Connor Murphy his first shutout of the season and second against RPI.

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“They had a sense of urgency,” RPI coach Dave Smith said. “They deserve that win tonight. There were some areas that we were not focused on, blocked shots being one of them, faceoffs being one of them and special teams being the big one.”

Union scored three straight power-play goals to put the game away.

Tyler Watkins got the first one with 21.2 seconds left in the second period and gave Union a 2-0 lead and momentum heading into the third period.

Carter Korpi got the next two in the third period. The first one came at 5:47, when he banked a shot off a couple of RPI players and into the net. RPI challenged for goalie interference, but the goal stood.

“It hit off something,” said Korpi, who recorded his second two-goal game of the season, with the other coming in the Oct. 1 season opener against RIT. “It was kind of just me, Chaz [Smedsrud] and Cal [Mell] just whacking at it. I don’t even know if I got it, to be honest. to me It went off two of their ‘D’ and just trickled in.”

Korpi was cutting in front of the RPI net when he redirected a Watkins point shot past Watson at 9:09 to make it 4-0.

“He just gets to the traffic areas,” Hauge said. “He’s got the ability to finish. He’s a proven goal scorer. I would say proven already with what he’s done. When we brought him in, we knew he could score, and he plays a heavy game as well. He brings it every night.”

Thirty-three seconds later, Josh Nixon ended Watson’s night with a goal. Brett Miller replaced him, and gave up a late goal to Smedsrud.

Murphy made 23 saves to get the shutout. In Union’s last home game against Bentley on Oct. 13, Murphy was 1:15 away from getting a shutout before the Falcons scored.

“I was really frustrated with the last game and we didn’t finish it out for him,” Hauge said. “I was really happy that the guys finished the job tonight. And he earned it and he deserved it. I was glad he’s able to get it.”

RPI 0 0 0 — 0

Union 1 1 4 — 6

First Period — 1, Union, Hodge 1 (Scheerer), 4:58. Penalties — Agnew, RPI (tripping), 1:55; Union bench, served by Hodge (too many men), 2:51; Farris, Uni (roughing), 13:27.

Second Period — 2, Union, Watkins 5 (Mell, Prokop), 19:39 (pp). Penalties — Ferguson, Uni (roughing), 9:11; Beaton, RPI (hooking), 19:30.

Third Period — 3, Union, Korpi 3 (Smedsrud, Mell), 5:47 (pp). 4, Union, Korpi 4 (Watkins, Mell), 9:09 (pp). 5, Union, Nixon 3 (Hanley, Snell), 9:42. 6, Union, Smedsrud 2 (Theodore), 17:57. Penalties — Robertson, Uni (holding), 2:45; Schreifels, RPI (hooking), 5:09; RPI bench, served by MacIsaac (faceoff violation), 8:25; Union bench, served by Benz (faceoff violation), 14:27; Tupker, Uni (cross-checking), 18:54; Schreifels, RPI (roughing), 20:00; Scheerer, Uni (roughing), 20:00.

Shots on Goal — RPI 5-8-10 — 23. Union 6-5-11 — 22.

Power-play opportunities — RPI 0 of 6; Union 3 of 4.

Goalies — RPI, Watson 5-2-0 (19 shots-14 saves), Miller (9:42 third, 3-2). Union, Murphy 3-4-1 (23-23).

A — 2,115. T — 2:20.

Referees — Anthony Kenney, Cameron Lynch. Linesmen — Stephen Drain, Adam Wood.

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Women

ST. LAWRENCE 1, UNION 0

Julia Gosling scored with 1.6 seconds left in regulation to give the Saints an ECACH victory over the Dutchwomen at Appleton Arena in Canton.

It was the second straight loss for Union (0-2-0 ECACH, 0 points; 3-5-0 overall).

Union goalie Sophie Matsoukas made 35 saves.

Union 0 0 0 — 0

St. Lawrence 0 0 1 — 1

First Period — None. Penalties — Jefferies, StL (holding), 10:45.

Second Period — None. Penalties — Jefferies, StL (hooking), 7:07; Riley, Uni (body checking), 12:14.

Third Period — 1, St. Lawrence, Gosling (Segedi, Hustler), 19:59. Penalties — King, Uni (tripping), 2:02; Wilson, StL (interference), 12:21; Smith, Uni (high-sticking), 14:48.

Shots on Goal — Union 8-12-6 — 26. St. Lawrence 6-10-20 — 36.

Power-play opportunities — Union 0 of 3; St. Lawrence 0 of 2.

Goalies — Union, Matsoukas (36 shots-35 saves). St. Lawrence, Morgan (26-26).

A — 226.

Referees — Alexander Bergeron, Zachary Dupree. Linesmen — Patrick Woodward, Nick Mecca.

NO. 10 CLARKSON 6, RPI 1

Gabrielle David scored twice to carry the 10th-ranked Golden Knights past the Engineers at Cheel Arena in Potsdam.

RPI 1 0 0 — 1

Clarkson 2 2 2 — 6

First Period — 1, Clarkson, McQuigge (Gosling, Winn), 8:14. 2, Clarkson, Goodwin (Branton, McQuigge), 13:16. 3, RPI, Bukvic (Zahirnyi), 15:54. Penalties — None.

Second Period — 4, Clarkson, Branton (Swiderski, Gosling), 2:21 (pp). 5, Clarkson, David (Catterall, Hanson), 14:38. Penalties — Papineau, RPI (cross-checking), 1:55; Cherkowski, Cla (tripping), 12:14; Bogden, Cla (high-sticking), 19:07.

Third Period — 6, Clarkson, David, 3:01. 7, Clarkson, Wisnewski (Lappan, Proulx), 15:42. Penalties — Christof, RPI (boarding), 18:56; Bukvic, RPI (roughing), 19:56; Markowski, Cla (roughing), 19:56.

Shots on Goal — RPI 3-8-4 — 15. Clarkson 6-14-16 — 36.

Power-play opportunities — RPI 0 of 2; Clarkson 1 of 4.

Goalies — RPI, Rampado (36 shots-30 saves). Clarkson, Minotti (15-14).

A — 337.

Referees — Matt Lowe, Amanda Tassoni. Linesmen — Larry Legault, Matthew Berg.

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