SCHENECTADY — The Union men’s hockey team’s effort against Brown on Saturday wasn’t as crisp as it was in its win over Yale on Friday.
But it was good enough to get another victory.
The Dutchmen concluded a successful ECAC Hockey weekend by beating the Bears 3-1, the same score they beat Yale, at Messa Rink.
It was the first six-point weekend of the season for the Dutchmen (7-10-1 ECACH, 23 points; 13-15-2 overall). It temporarily moves them into a tie for sixth place with Princeton, which played at seventh-place Clarkson.
The wins this weekend put Union in a good spot to get home ice in the ECACH tournament sudden-death first-round game. There are four games left in the regular season.
“I think it was a huge win today to finish out the weekend,” Union head coach Josh Hauge said. “For us, we’ve got to bank as many points [as possible]. It doesn’t matter how you get them at this time of the year, just [as long] as you’re putting them in the standings and keep climbing.”
The players understand how important it was to collect those six points.
“Going into this weekend, we marked up six [points] on the board in terms of what we expect from our team,” said Union senior forward Owen Farris, whose empty-net goal with 36.7 seconds left in the game sealed the victory. “We really showed out in both games. It felt like we were in control most of the way.”
Union managed just four shots on goal in the opening period against Brown. The Dutchmen should have had more, but they were looking to make the extra pass too many times.
They did grab a 1-0 lead midway through the first when Liam Robertson fired a wrist shot from just inside the right side of the left circle past goalie Jacob Zacharewicz.
“I definitely don’t think tonight was our cleanest game,” Hauge said. “I thought in certain areas, we just were a little disappointing. Overall, at this time of the year, you just will take the three points and keep moving forward. It’s about getting better, and I think there’s some areas that we can definitely improve on after this weekend. But they found a way to win, and that’s all that matters.”
Caden Villegas made it 2-0 2:20 into the second period, converting a Josh Nixon pass during a 2-on-1 break.
Union had a chance to put the game away when, 25 seconds later, Brown defenseman Luke Krys was called for a five-minute major for contact to the head and a game misconduct. But the Dutchmen struggled from the outset. They couldn’t get set up in the Brown zone for the first half of the power play. Union did get five shots on goal toward the end of it, but nothing dangerous.
“When you get a five-minute power play, you take it for granted a little bit and you don’t try and attack at the start of the power play,” Nixon said. “I feel like that’s just what happened there.”
Then the tables were turned on Union midway through the second when defenseman Cullen Ferguson received a five-minute major for contact to the head and a game misconduct. A week after giving up four power-play goals to Cornell during a five-minute major on Nick Young, Union faced a critical moment.
This time, the Dutchmen passed the test. They held the Bears (5-11-2, 19 points; 9-14-2) to three shots.
“Obviously, if they score there, it’s a completely different game,” Union senior goalie Connor Murphy said. “It was definitely huge for us to kill that off, and I think it helped us in the third period to keep the momentum in our favor.”
The only danger Union faced was when Murphy went down after a Brown player crashed into him. Trainer Cheryl Rockwood came out to see how Murphy was feeling. Given his cramping issues Murphy has faced this season, it was fair to surmise that maybe that another got Murphy.
Murphy said that wasn’t the case. It was more sensitive than a cramp.
“Unfortunately, the kid landed on me and my groin kind of split in half,” Murphy said with a laugh. “It wasn’t ideal, but I should be OK.”
Brown made things interesting when Brett Bliss scored with 1:08 left and Zacharewicz pulled for an extra attacker.
After Farris’ goal, senior Merek Pipes replaced Murphy. It was Pipes’ second career appearance.
“I was happy to see him go in,” Murphy said.
Brown 0 0 1 — 1
Union 1 1 1 — 3
First Period — 1, Union, Robertson 8 (Snell, Theodore), 9:52. Penalties — Prokop, Uni (interference), 18:40.
Second Period — 2, Union, Villegas 6 (Nixon, Prokop), 2:20. Penalties — Krys, Bro, major-game misconduct (contact to the head), 2:45; Ferguson, Uni, major-game misconduct (contact to the head), 9:29; Young, Uni (cross-checking), 16:32.
Third Period — 3, Brown, Bliss 6 (Cocca, Crossman), 18:52. 4, Union, Farris 6, 19:24 (en). Penalties — Crossman, Bro (hooking), 7:58.
Shots on Goal — Brown 11-5-6 — 22. Union 4-8-10 — 22.
Power-play opportunities — Brown 0 of 3; Union 0 of 2.
Goalies — Brown, Zacharewicz 1-4-0 (22 shots-20 saves). Union, Murphy 11-13-1 (22-21), Pipes (19:36 third, 0-0).
A — 2,011. T — 2:21.
Referees — Tom Dellafranco, CJ Hanafin. Linesmen — Patrick Philbin, Ryan Knapp.