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Scoring balance, depth part of Dutchmen hockey success

Scoring balance, depth part of Dutchmen hockey success

No Union hockey player has scored more than one goal in a game this season, but that isn't holding t

So far, it’s been an incredible season for the Union men’s hockey team.

Already, the Dutchmen have set a team record with a seven-game winning streak, and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 contests. They are in fifth place in the ECAC Hockey standings, just four points out of first place.

But there is one thing the Dutchmen have yet to accomplish. You can peruse all 25 game sum­maries, but you won’t find a Union player who has scored two goals in a game. In fact, it has been a year since a Dutchman scored twice in a contest.

The fifth-place Dutchmen aren’t worried about trying to end that stat­istical anomaly, though. They are focused on the task at hand, earning points against Harvard tonight and Dartmouth on Saturday at Messa Rink. Both games start at 7 p.m.

Last year, Union had a player score twice in a game 10 times. Josh Coyle was the last to do it, getting a pair of goals in a 3-3 draw with Cornell on Feb. 9. Counting the final seven contests of last season, the Dutchmen (7-4-3 ECACH,

12-9-4 overall) have gone 32 straight games without a player having a two-goal effort.

However, it’s not troubling the Dutchmen, who are just four points behind first-place Clarkson, two behind second-place Cornell and a point in back of Princeton and Quinnipiac for third place. The top four teams earn a first-round bye in the ECACH tournament.

“It’s something I hadn’t really thought about,” said sophomore forward Mario Valery-Trabucco, who had a team-leading three two-goal games last season, and leads the team this year with nine goals. “As long as guys are playing their roles, and guys are putting the puck in the net and scoring enough goals to win the game, we’re satisfied with that.”

Freshman forward Adam Pres­izniuk, the team’s leading scorer with six goals and 15 assists, is surprised that no one on the team has tallied two goals in a game.

“It shows how spread out our scoring is,” said Presizniuk, who was named ECACH rookie of the week Monday after collecting a goal and three assists last weekend. “It’s a good thing.”

The key, according to Union coach Nate Leaman, is getting scoring from more than just two lines.

“It means we’re a team,” Leaman said. “That’s what we’ve shown since we came back from Christmas. We have different guys stepping up on different nights. That’s obviously been extremely important to us.

“Despite our youth, we do have some balance, and we have some depth. We’ve had the third and fourth lines chipping in for us. They’ve done a super job for us. Torren [Delforte] got the game-winner for us at St. Lawrence [two weeks ago]. ‘Bootsie’ [Andrew Buote] got the game-winner down at Quinnipiac [Nov. 30].”

The Dutchmen’s primary concern tonight will be simply scoring a goal against the seventh-place Crimson (6-7-2, 8-10-3) and the last-place Big Green (3-10-1, 8-11-2).

The last time Union saw those two teams the weekend of Nov. 9, it combined to outshoot them, 56-47. However, the Dutchmen lost both games by 4-0 scores.

The difference between then and now?

“We’re finishing,” Leaman said. “In those games, I didn’t think we played poorly. The two things that are happening now is that we’re finishing, and our goaltending has been a little bit better. Those two elements have really turned our season in the direction that we wanted to be.”

RPI FACES DARTMOUTH

Despite losing 12 of its last 13 games, slumping Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (4-9-2, 9-17-3) is still in the hunt for home ice in the first round of the ECACH tourn­ament. Tied for ninth place with St. Lawrence, the Engineers are just a point behind Colgate for the final home-ice spot.

But the way the Engineers have played at home, they may be better off playing away from Houston Field House. They are 3-8-3 at home, and have lost seven straight games. During the skid, RPI has been outscored, 29-8.

Still, RPI coach Seth Appert wants to be home for the playoffs. A victory over Dartmouth tonight at 7 at the field house would be a start on that goal for the Engineers. It is the only game RPI is playing this weekend. The Engineers faced Harvard on Dec. 4, a 4-2 triumph which was their last home-ice win.

“You’d like to think [home ice is important],” Appert said. “Our play at home hasn’t been good enough. Our play on the road has been very good. We need to probably be a little more mature in our approach to home games. There’s way more distractions at home than there is on the road.”

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