Union’s third-period play has been one of the team’s strengths during its run to the NCAA hockey Frozen Four. The Dutchmen have had an ability to wear teams down in the final 20 minutes.
But Union met its match in Thursday’s semifinal against Ferris State.
The Bulldogs took control of the game in the third, and Kyle Bonis scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:43 left to send Ferris State to a 3-1 victory over the Dutchmen at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
More from the Frozen Four
- Union's season-ender still a source of pride at home. Click HERE
- Notebook: Dutchmen scoring star Welsh will weigh jump to pro ranks. Click HERE
- VIDEO: Union center Kelly Zajac's college career is over. Click HERE.
- VIDEO: Union goalie Troy Grosenick reacts to the loss. Click HERE.
- VIDEO: Union center Jeremy Welsh talks about the loss. Click HERE.
The loss ends a magical season for the third-ranked Dutchmen
(26-8-7), who won their second straight ECAC Hockey regular-season title, and then captured their first ECACH tournament and NCAA East Regional titles to make it to their first Frozen Four.
“They kept it simple,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “They outbattled us a few times, especially at the net fronts. That’s just something that’s [a] strength of ours that just didn’t happen tonight. Anytime you’re winning net fronts at both ends, that’s a good sign for them, and they earned it.”
Union was outshot, 13-9, in the third period, and 37-28 for the game.
“We didn’t take care of the puck like we normally do,” Union senior defenseman Nolan Julseth-White said. “We kind of got away from our game. We had our moments, and Ferris State played a hell of a game.”
The Dutchmen’s inability to take charge in the third can be traced back to an inability to execute their game plan.
“It started with our dump-ins,” Bennett said. “I wanted to use the glass, and we never used the glass. On their breakout, our forecheck never caught up to their breakout. That made it easy for them.”
And Union gave up four power plays to the Bulldogs (26-11-5), who face Boston College in the championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday. Union, which has one of the best power plays in the country, got only one man advantage.
“We were a team that was really disciplined throughout the year,” Bennett said. “We did some things out of the norm that really hurt us here tonight.”
Dutchmen forward Daniel Carr didn’t think the Bulldogs outplayed them.
“But obviously, they did the things right that they needed to do,” Carr said. “And they get a good bounce, and I guess that’s the way it happens.”
Bonis was in the right place to score. He was in the right circle when Union goalie Troy Grosenick kicked out a Brett Wysopal shot from the left-wing boards. No Dutchmen defender was on Bonis, who put home the rebound.
“It was a great shot by ‘Soaps,’ ” Bonis said. “It’s something we work on a lot in practice. When it came off [Grosenick’s] pad, I was hoping it would sit down and I could get a decent piece of the puck. And Grosenick made quite an extension. He pushed off pretty hard, and he was a lot closer to stopping that than I would have liked him to be.
“But when it went in, it was quite a feeling.”
Grosenick, who stopped Aaron Schmit on a breakaway moments earlier, took the blame for the goal.
“I left out a bad rebound,” Grosenick said. “They capitalized. You can’t do that against a good team.”
Ferris State had some good scoring opportunities in the first half of the opening period.
Bonis miss a backhander on a three-on-one in the game’s first 20 seconds. Bonis’ next good opportunity came on a one-timer from the slot with 16:15 left, but Grosenick made the save. A Chad Billins right-point shot was tipped by Cory Kane down low. The puck went over Grosenick’s right shoulder, but it hit the crossbar.
Union, which almost scored 6:03 into the second when Shayne Gostisbehere’s left-point shot hit the crossbar, broke the ice with 12:04 left in the period. Jeremy Welsh won a faceoff in the Ferris State left circle. He drew the puck back to the top of the slot to Greg Coburn, who fired the shot. Carr was falling down in the low slot, but he managed to get his stick on the puck and redirect it over goalie Taylor Nelson’s glove for his 20th goal of the season.
But the Dutchmen gave up some shots after that goal. Kevin Sullivan had a chance to shoot from the left circle, but he made cross ice pass to Kyle Bodie, and the puck went behind him.
Shortly after that, Mat Bodie came down the left wing and appeared to have a lane to shoot. But he went too deep and elected to pass the puck.
“You have to shoot the puck, and good things will happen,” Bennett said. “We keep preaching it all year, but sometimes, you get to this magnitude, it’s something you just have to learn from and hopefully, we did tonight.”
The Bulldogs tied it late in the second on the power play when Schmit put in the rebound of a
Bonis shot. Schmit clinched the win and ended the Dutchmen’s season by scoring an empty-net goal with 55 seconds left.
“It’s been a good experience, but it’s tough to swallow,” Coburn said. “It’s going to take a couple of days to reflect on the season, but I’m proud of the guys in [the locker room].”
Ferris State 0 1 2 — 3
Union 0 1 0 — 1
First Period — None. Penalties — None.
Second Period — 1, Union, Carr 20 (Coburn, Welsh), 7:56. 2, Ferris State, Schmit 7 (Bonis, Czarnowcz), 17:02 (pp). Penalties — Forgaard, Uni (tripping), 8:17; Ikkala, Uni (charging), 15:24.
Third Period — 3, Ferris State, Bonis 19 (Wysopal), 15:17. 4, Ferris State, Schmit 8, 19:05 (en). Penalties — Graham, FS (hooking), 4:30; Ouellette, FS (hitting after whistle), 5:34; K. Bodie, Uni (hitting after whistle), 5:34; Jooris, Uni (high-sticking), 5:53; M .Bodie, Uni (elbowing), 10:26.
Shots on Goal — Ferris State 7-17-13 — 37. Union 6-13-9 — 28.
Power-play opportunities — Ferris State 1 of 4; Union 0 of 1.
Goalies — Ferris State, Nelson 21-6-3 (28 shots-27 saves). Union, Grosenick 22-6-3 (36-34).
T — 2:38.
Referees — Scott Hansen, Kevin Shea. Linesmen — Chris Aughe, Bob Bernard.