SCHENECTADY — Union sophomore forward Josh Nixon spent the bulk of the first period watching the game from the penalty box after receiving 14 minutes in penalties. You can’t score goals from there.
But in the second period, Nixon found the back of the net. His power-play goal late in the period proved to be the game-winner to help the Dutchmen to a 3-2 ECAC Hockey victory over St. Lawrence on Friday at Messa Rink.
The victory gave Union (4-8-1 ECACH, 14 points; 9-13-2 overall) three valuable points in the conference standings. The Dutchmen are tied for seventh with Clarkson, their opponent at 4 p.m. Saturday at Messa, with 14 points. That puts them in position for home ice in the ECACH tournament sudden-death first-round game. The win moved Union within three points of sixth-place St. Lawrence (6-5-0, 17 points; 11-12-0).
Nixon was called for a two-minute minor for shooting the puck after the whistle on an offsides play at 4:08, and that carries an automatic 10-minute misconduct. He also got two minutes for roughing.
“It wasn’t the period I wanted,” said Nixon, who transferred to Union in the offseason from Lake Superior State. “Obviously, I was well rested for the second and third [periods].”
With the Dutchmen clinging to a 2-1 lead in the second period, they got their third power play of the game when Mason Waite was called for cross-checking at 16:01 of the period.
Nate Hanley was behind the net when he spotted Nixon skating down the slot. Hanley hit Nixon with the pass, and he fired a one-timer past goalie Emil Zetterquist with 2:23 left in the second. Caden Villegas got the secondary assist.
“It was just a great play, with ‘Vegas’ passing it down to Nate, and I just got [into] an open area,” Nixon said. “It was just a great pass by Nate.”
Union head coach Josh Hauge was pleased that Nixon overcame that first-period adversity.
“He clearly didn’t think he heard a whistle,” Hauge said. “I gave him the benefit of the doubt on that one. He’s an important piece for us. I just told him, ‘Hey, you owe us one.’ And he responded.”
After a 30-save effort, plus four more stops in a shootout win against Yale last Saturday, freshman Kyle Chauvette made his second straight in goal for the Dutchmen. He wasn’t tested as much by the Saints as he was by the Bulldogs. Chauvette stopped 16 St. Lawrence shots.
“He played outstanding for us once again, and gave us a chance to win,” said Union defenseman John Prokop, who had a goal and an assist in the first period. “We took advantage of it to get the win.”
Chauvette said he found he was going to start after practice on Thursday.
“I was really pumped for it,” Chauvette said. “Anytime you get to start and play a game and try to battle for your team is exciting.”
Luc Salem beat Chauvette for a power-play goal at 7:59 of the second period. Drake Burgin scored a fluky goal with 8:37 left in the game when his shot from the right deflected off a Union stick and landed in the net.
“That was a weird one,” Chauvette said. “I don’t even know [what happened] until I’ve watched the replay. When I watched it back, it looked like [Burgin] from the point took a shot. It got blocked and went way up in the air, and I had no idea where it went until it hit me in the shoulder and went in, so I didn’t really see it the entire way.”
The Saints pulled Zetterquist for an extra attacker with 2:41 to go. The Saints got two harmless shots on Chauvette during that time as the Dutchmen closed out an important victory and split the season series. Union dropped a 4-2 decision at St. Lawrence on Nov. 5.
“I think it’s a huge win for us,” Hauge said. “We needed to respond. We felt like we let the one up there slip away, and obviously we’ve got to to bank as many points as we can because we put ourselves in a little bit of a hole.”
St. Lawrence 0 1 1 — 2
Union 2 1 0 — 3
First Period — 1, Union, Robertson 6 (Watkins, Prokop), 3:53 (pp). 2, Union, Prokop 3 (Smedsrud, Robertson), 18:25. Penalties — Boyer, StL (tripping), 3:09; Erickson, StL (roughing), 4:08; Nixon, Uni, double minor-misconduct (shooting puck after whistle, roughing), 4:08; Robertson, Uni (elbowing), 8:54; Boyer, StL (tripping), 12:08.
Second Period — 3, St. Lawrence, Salem 8 (Lasak, Mazura), 7:59 (pp). 4, Union, Nixon 6 (Hanley, Villegas), 17:37 (pp). Penalties — Smedsrud, Uni (interference), :51; Erickson, StL (roughing), 6:40; Farris, Uni (roughing), 6:40; Tupker, Uni (roughing), 6:40; Young, Uni (cross-checking), 10:34; Waite, StL (cross-checking), 16:01.
Third Period — 5, St. Lawrence, Burgin 3 (Gavars, Waite), 11:23. Penalties — Mazura, StL (hooking), 12:23.
Shots on Goal — St. Lawrence 5-5-8 — 18. Union 9-6-6 — 21.
Power-play opportunities — St. Lawrence 1 of 5; Union 2 of 4.
Goalies — St. Lawrence, Zetterquist 11-12-0 (21 shots-18 saves). Union, Chauvette 2-2-1 (18-16).
A — 1,564. T — 2:30.
Referees — Mason Riley, Joseph Carusone. Linesmen — Dan Taggart, Jason Shattie.
Contact Ken Schott by email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @slapschotts.
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Categories: -Sports, College Sports, Union College