There weren’t any smiles on the faces of Union coach Nate Leaman, goalie Corey Milan and forward Stephane Boileau in the interview room after Friday’s non-conference college hockey game against Connecticut.
And the Dutchmen won.
But there wasn’t much for the Dutchmen to be happy about after their 3-2 win over the Huskies in their Messa Rink opener.
The Dutchmen (3-1-1) went from dominating UConn (2-3) to holding on for dear life.
“We didn’t finish our chances well tonight,” Leaman said. “When you don’t put a team away with the number of chances we had tonight, it allows them to keep hanging around.”
The Dutchmen jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Kelly Zajac and Adam Presizniuk 58 seconds apart early in the first period. They took a 3-1 lead into the third, but couldn’t get another puck past goalie Beau Erickson.
The Huskies pulled to within one on Brendan Olinyk’s goal at 7:09 of the third. UConn had two great chances to tie it, but the Dutchmen got some fortunate breaks.
The first came with 4:03 left, when Nick Schneider’s drive from the left circle hit the post to the left of Milan. Less than two minutes later, Milan stopped Daniel Naurato’s right-wing drive, but he couldn’t control the rebound. Justin Hernandez had Milan down, but he shot the puck over the net.
“It was pretty hectic,” Milan said. “I got lucky with some posts, and them missing the net. We got away with it.”
Then, with 1:37 left, Boileau was called for tripping Jason Krispel in the UConn zone, giving the Huskies a power play and one last chance to tie it up.
The Dutchmen survived that, too.
“I was feeling bad,” said Boileau, who scored late in the second. “It was a bad penalty at the end of the game. I want to say thank you to the PK [penalty kill], thank you to Corey Milan, who did a great job at the end of the game.”
It probably wouldn’t have come to surviving had Union not stopped attacking the net. The two quick goals the Dutchmen scored gave them a false sense of security.
Instead of shooting the puck, they tried to play fancy. Even though the Dutchmen had 39 shots on goal, Leaman wasn’t happy. He thought his team played immaturely.
“I thought two things, we didn’t finish our chances early in the game, and we just stopped shooting the puck,” Leaman said. “We had two-on-ones, three-on-ones, but we didn’t get a shot off. That’s inexcusable. We were getting too cute.”
Boileau didn’t dispute that.
“At first, we shot the puck a lot,” Boileau said. “We had, like, 10 shots in the first five to 10 minutes, and that’s why we were up, 2-0. After that, we didn’t work. It was like, ‘Let’s win, 8-0, tonight.’ We’re not a team like that.”
Forwards Justin Pallos and Luke Cain were scratched, as well as defenseman Mike Wakita for Union. Junior forward Jason Shaffer made his season debut for the Dutchmen, and freshman defenseman Taylor Reid played in his first college game. Also dressing was freshman forward Randy Hanagan. . . .
The Dutchmen begin ECAC Hockey play next Friday against Dartmouth at Messa.
Connecticut 1 0 1 — 2
Union 2 1 0 — 3
First Period — 1, Union, Zajac 2 (Cook, Potts), 3:05. 2, Union, Presizniuk 3 (Boileau), 4:03. 3, Connecticut, S. Erickson 1 (Krispel, Ranallo), 6:17 (pp). Penalty — Simpson, Uni (holding), 4:33.
Second Period — 4, Union, Boileau 3 (Walters), 14:22. Penalties — Buote, Uni (goalie interference), 3:49; Bernard, Conn (slashing), 6:50; Cook, Uni (hitting from behind), 9:45; Naurato, Conn (slashing), 10:45; Harr, Uni (interference), 17:03; Zajac, Uni (interference), 18:37.
Third Period — 5, Connecticut, Olinyk 1 (Bayers, Pedemonti), 7:09. Penalties — Behler, Conn (cross-checking), 11:01; Boileau, Uni (tripping), Sapieha, Conn (slashing), 19:58.
Shots on Goal — Connecticut 5-11-12 — 28. Union 11-18-10 — 39.
Power-play opportunities — Connecticut 1 of 6; Union 0 of 3.
Goalies — Connecticut, B. Erickson 1-3-0 (39 shots-36 saves). Union, Milan 3-1-1 (28-26).
A — 1,201. T — 2:08.
Referees — Scott Whittemore, John Barnard. Linesmen — Bill Lyons, Brett Reed.