Union men’s hockey team overcomes travel issues, returns to practice

Union's Josh Nixon handles the puck next to Northeastern's Braden Doyle during a Dec. 3 game at Messa Rink.

Union's Josh Nixon handles the puck next to Northeastern's Braden Doyle during a Dec. 3 game at Messa Rink.

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SCHENECTADY — With the major winter storms hitting Western New York and the Midwest over the past few days, Union men’s hockey head coach Josh Hauge was concerned about not having his entire team Tuesday for the first practice after the Christmas break.

Fortunately for Hauge, the Dutchmen had a full roster at the practice at Messa Rink. Unfortunately for Hauge, his wife and two sons are still stuck in Minnesota, where they went to visit family last week.

“Everybody will be in today, so that’s a positive for us,” Hauge said Tuesday afternoon. “I try to get everybody to have the day after Christmas to travel, so I accounted for some travel delays that might happen.

“Unfortunately for me and my family, our flight was canceled. They’re still back in Minnesota right now. They got rebooked for later in the week, trying to get out a little bit earlier if they can. Hopefully, they’ll be here by puck drop on Friday.”

The Dutchmen (6-10-1) close out 2022 this weekend when they host New Hampshire (4-14-1) for games Friday and Saturday at Messa Rink. Game time each day is 4 p.m.

Those are the Dutchmen’s first games since Dec. 9-10, when they lost at Princeton 2-0 and were routed at Quinnipiac 8-1.

It probably made for a miserable two weeks away for the team. But Hauge believes his players have gotten over it.

“These guys are pretty resilient,” Hauge said. “They’ll battle back and be ready to go here on Friday. You can’t sit and sulk about it. Hopefully, they went home, got to spend some time with their families and enjoy the holidays together.

“The Princeton game, I thought that was a disappointing game. I didn’t think we had the energy we needed. I thought, actually, on [Dec. 10 against Quinnipiac], the first period was a pretty good period for us. We just didn’t finish our chances, and then started cheating the game. The second period got away from us. It was a frustrating way to end it. But overall, I still really like the group.”

The loss to Quinnipiac was the fourth time that Union was beaten by four or more goals. The other contests were against UMass (7-1 Oct. 21 and 7-0 Oct. 22) and Harvard (5-1 Nov. 12). Hauge doesn’t believe the team gave up in those games.

“A loss is a loss is a loss, right?” Hauge said. “So if you lose 10-1 or 1-0, it still counts the same. You don’t want to have those for morale, you want to make sure we’re in every game. What ends up happening is you look at that first period against Quinnipiac, and I think it was a pretty even period. We had some Grade-A chances, we just didn’t finish.

“With five minutes left in the period, it’s 1-0 and then they get the power-play goal and a quick [goal] right back and we felt sorry for ourselves. Then we start pressing the game, so you get away from what you’re trying to do. You cheat the game and you take chances offensively, and the next thing you know, you’re in big trouble. You’ve got to stay the course and just keep battling and trust that the way you’re going to play will get you rewarded. And when we get away from that, we’re not a very good hockey team. When we stick to the process and play together, we can beat anyone.”

Playing a non-conference opponent in New Hampshire will give Hauge a chance to get some players into the lineup who haven’t seen much action this season. But he knows the importance of these games to get his team back on track for 2023.

“Coming back with having more bodies and being able to get some different guys in the lineup and give some guys an opportunity that maybe haven’t gotten as much [playing time] as they want,” Hauge said. “But they’ve got to earn that this week in practice. These are games we need to win.”

Contact Ken Schott by email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @slapschotts.

Categories: College Sports, Sports, Sports, Union College

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