Willie Nelson can’t wait to get on the road again. I’m not sure the same sentiment applies to the Union College men’s hockey team.
The Dutchmen have faced a lot of potholes on the road this season. They are a measly 1-9-1 away from Messa Rink.
How bad has it been for the Dutchmen? They have been outscored 50-20. They have allowed eight goals in a game twice. They have given up seven goals in a game twice, as well.
The most goals Union has scored on the road is five, and that came in an 8-5 loss at RIT on Oct. 15. The Dutchmen have been shut out twice on the road. Union’s only road win was a 3-2 decision at Clarkson on Nov. 4 in Union head coach Josh Hauge’s return against the team he was the assistant coach for under Golden Knights head coach Casey Jones.
Union (3-7-0 ECAC Hockey, 9 points; 8-12-1 overall) gets set for games at Brown (1-7-2, 7 points; 5-10-2 on Friday night and at Yale (1-8-1, 5 points; 2-10-3) on Saturday night. These are two critical games for the Dutchmen if they want to get home ice in the one-game first round of the ECACH tournament. Union is a point behind RPI for the final first-round home-ice slot.
“I just think it’s our preparation,” Union junior forward Liam Robertson said this week. “I think we need to prepare a little bit better. Get in the mindset to go on the road. I know our record doesn’t look so great on the road. But I think we’ve just got to put that behind us and just play the way we know we can, the way we’ve been playing at home and and to take that to the road.”
The Dutchmen understand the importance of this weekend’s games, especially when you look down the road at their February road games. They will be at Colgate (Feb. 3), at Cornell (Feb. 4), at Harvard (Feb. 17) and at Dartmouth (Feb. 18). Union lost to Colgate, Cornell and Harvard at Messa Rink by a combined 13-3. Winning on the road against those teams won’t be easy.
That’s why Union must come away with six points this weekend.
“Brown is one place behind us right now,” Union senior goalie and Hudson Falls native Connor Murphy said. “This game is a big deciding game to see who jumps up in the standings. They’re both two huge games for us, specifically the Brown game. Right now, we’re just focusing on Friday and try to make sure we’re prepared for that.”
Hauge is ready to get on the road.
“For us, it’s a good time to get on the road and bond together and really try to find a way [to win,” Hauge said. “Each game is a little different. Our past road record doesn’t mean we’re doomed. I think just staying positive, try to jump on them early and get the lead and I think we’re a better team and we’re playing out in front.”
Union last had a winning road record in 2017-18, when it went 11-6-1. The program’s worst Division I road mark is 0-13, which occurred in 1992-93, the Dutchmen’s second season in Division I. Their other rough road records are 2-13-1 in 1994-95 and 2000-01, and 2-8-1 in 1991-92, the program’s inaugural Division I year.
If this season’s Dutchmen squad doesn’t want to end up as one of the worst road teams in program history, they must start shooting the puck.
Union is averaging 23.0 shots on goal per game. Union has had less than 20 shots on goal in a game seven times, and recently had a three-game streak with under 20 shots on goal. Surprisingly, Union is 4-3 in those games.
However, the Dutchmen’s opponents have a big advantage on shot attempts 679-484. That’s a recipe for losing.
“We just need to shoot the puck more,” Union sophomore defenseman Cullen Ferguson said. “We’ve got to have more of a shooter’s mindset right now. I think we’re really passive, and we keep passing the puck off to somebody else. We just need guys to start shooting the puck more. That’s where our goals have come from, just shooting the puck and getting to the net. That’s Union hockey. Having that wolfpack mentality at the net, banging bodies around and getting pucks in that. I think we just need to shoot the puck and get it to the net more.”
That better start this weekend. If the Dutchmen don’t listen to their own advice, they will be looking up at the rest of the conference.
MASSIE COMMITS TO UNION
The Dutchmen received a commitment this week from Lucas Massie, a goalie for the U.S. Hockey League’s Lincoln Stars.
Massie could arrive at Union either next season or the 2024-25 campaign.
“I’m super excited about it,” Massie said in a press release. “It’s an amazing school and an amazing hockey program in terms of academics and for producing pros. Now I can 100% be where I am, here in Lincoln, and focus on our goal, which is winning the Clark Cup.”
In his first season with the Stars, Massie is 6-2 with a 2.98 goals-against average and .909 save percentage in 10 games. His best game came Dec. 3 against Fargo when he made 34 saves in a 2-1 win.
“We are very excited and proud of Lucas for his commitment to Union,” Stars head coach Rocky Russo said in the press release. “He has worked very hard for this opportunity, and impressed Coach [Josh] Hauge and his staff with not only his on ice play, but also his academic success. Lucas will be a tremendous addition to the Union College hockey program as well as the local community.”
Massie is the second member of the Stars to commit to Union this season, joining defenseman DJ Hart.
END OF AN ERA
Mark Morris, who was the head coach at Clarkson and St. Lawrence and was an assistant coach at Union in the 1984-85, announced last week that he is retiring as head coach at Northwood School in Lake Placid at the end of the season.
Morris, who turns 65 in March, was an outstanding player at Colgate and was a teammate of former RPI head coach Dan Fridgen.
Morris compiled a 337-225-53 record as a college hockey head coach. In his third season at Clarkson, Morris guided the Golden Knights to the 1991 NCAA Frozen Four. The Golden Knights made the NCAA tournament six other times, including five straight appearances from 1995-99.
Morris also coached in the American Hockey League with the now-defunct Manchester Monarchs. He had a 339-223-67 record in eight seasons.
Time for my latest ECAC Hockey men’s power rankings.
1) Quinnipiac — Bobcats take control of ECAC Hockey after beating second-place Harvard last Saturday, and have the No. 1 ranking in the USCHO.com and USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today polls.
2) Harvard — Will await the rematch with Quinnipiac on Feb. 3.
3) Cornell — Except for giving up three second-period power-play goals to RPI last Saturday, the Big Red were dominant in the Capital Region last weekend.
4) Clarkson — The Golden Knights needed to work hard to get a tie against Holy Cross last Saturday.
5) Colgate — Got a split of the Capital Region road trip last weekend.
6) Princeton — Blew 3-0 lead against Harvard last Friday as the Tigers celebrated 100 years of Hobey Baker Rink. Bounced back the next night to beat Dartmouth.
7) St. Lawrence — Split home-and-home series with Niagara.
8) RPI — The Engineers had a nice comeback win against Colgate last Friday.
9) Union — Looked awful against Cornell last Friday.
10) Brown — Who had the Bears winning at eighth-ranked Merrimack last Saturday?
11) Dartmouth — 0-2 last weekend.
12) Yale — Who had the Bulldogs taking a 3-1 lead at eighth-ranked Merrimack last Friday before settling for a 3-3 tie?
Contact Ken Schott by email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @slapschotts.
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Categories: College Sports, Sports, Union College