After not producing a point in his first three games of the season, Union sophomore forward Daniel Ciampini was told by coach Rick Bennett that he wouldn’t be playing during the Dutchmen’s trip to American International and Connecticut two weeks ago.
There was a small conversation between the two, but Bennett wanted Ciampini to watch game tape to see what he wasn’t doing so well. And it was clear to Ciampini; he didn’t see himself going hard to the net like he should.
“It was just an agreement between both of us,” Ciampini said. “I went over with the assistant coaches. We were in agreement that my game wasn’t where it should have been at Bowling Green [Oct. 12-13]. They just felt that they had better guys to put in the lineup for that weekend.”
As the Dutchmen prepare to meet Harvard — the team they beat in last year’s ECAC Hockey tournament championship game — tonight at 7 at Bright Hockey Center, Ciampini has rediscovered what his game should be like.
“He had experience from last year, and we wanted to get the same Daniel Ciampini that we had at the run that we had at the end of the year,” Bennett said. “We just felt he had the same mistakes that he was making early in his career, So we talked about it.
“When he got back to playing the way we want to play, he flourished.”
Ciampini played a major role in helping the Dutchmen (2-0 ECAC Hockey, 5-1-1 overall) sweep Capital Region rival Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute last weekend, scoring three goals and recording an assist. He scored the first goal in last Friday’s 4-2 victory at Houston Field House, and in the next night’s 7-3 win at Messa Rink, Ciampini scored the go-ahead and game-winning goals during Union’s six-goal second-period outburst.
All three goals were scored exactly the same way, by going to the net.
In the first game, Ciampini tipped in a Greg Coburn right-point shot past goalie Scott Diebold to give Union a 1-0 lead 5:39 into the contest. On Saturday, Ciampini tipped home another Coburn blast, this time past goalie Bryce Merriam, to give the Dutchmen a 2-1 lead at 4:22 of the second. Later in the period, during Union’s major power play, he redirected a Shayne Gostisbehere shot past Merriam to make it 5-1.
Ciampini understood why Bennett took the actions he did.
“I took it in stride. I’ve been there before,” Ciampini said. “I know what it’s like. It just gave me a little bit of vengeance for the week after.”
Ciampini came to Union last season with great offensive credentials, collecting 208 points in 154 games with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s St. Michael Buzzers. But in the first half of last season, Ciampini was a spectator.
He started getting more playing time in the second half of the year, finishing with three goals and three assists. He had a game-winning goal, and he scored the first goal of the game in the NCAA tournament East Regional final against UMass-Lowell.
“It was a real big difference and a huge jump,” Ciampini said. “Getting settled in was totally different. The biggest thing for me was just trying to find where I fit in, where my role would be on this team. I knew where I fit in at junior. I knew what was asked of me. We had the top six guys leave one year, and I had no choice but to [prioritize].
“But here, we’ve got lines one through four of top guys, and anybody can move in on any line. Just finding myself is the biggest thing, and the rest of it fell into place.”
Union will face Harvard (1-1, 2-1) for the first time since beating the Crimson, 3-1, in the ECACH tournament championship game. Harvard is expected to be one of the teams trying to prevent the Dutchmen from winning a third straight Cleary Cup regular-season title.
The Crimson had mixed results at home last weekend. They edged Brown, 3-2, but then were blasted by Yale, 5-1.
“We’re expecting a good game,” Coburn said. “They’re always a tight, defensive team, so that’s what we’re expecting.”
RPI faces Dartmouth
After getting swept by the Dutchmen, RPI (0-2, 1-3-2) will try and bounce back when it faces Dartmouth tonight at 7.
Since opening the season with a 3-1 win over Ferris State on Oct. 12, the Engineers are winless in their last five games.
And the Engineers won’t have their leading scorer, Jacob Laliberte. He is out with concussion-like symptoms. Laliberte has four goals and six assists this season.
The Big Green are 3-0-1 in their first four games. They won their ECACH openers last weekend on their home ice, beating Yale, 7-4, and Brown, 3-2.
The Engineers and Big Green split last year’s series, winning on each other’s home ice. Dartmouth took a 4-3 victory Jan. 6 at Houston Field House, and RPI captured a 2-1 triumph Feb. 11 at Thompson.