After a two-week break to take final exams for the first trimester, the Union College men’s hockey team returns to the ice this weekend against an opponent it has never played before.
However, the Dutchmen are very familiar with the opponent’s coach and his style of play.
The eighth-ranked Dutchmen (6-2-1) will get their first look at NCAA hockey’s newest Division I program, Penn State, this weekend at Messa Rink. The Dutchmen host the Nittany Lions (6-3) in a two-game series tonight at 7 and Sunday at 4 p.m.
While the Nittany Lions are unknown to the Dutchmen, they are very familiar with their coach.
Guy Gadowsky spent seven seasons as head coach at ECAC Hockey rival Princeton, compiling a 105-109-15 record. He guided the Tigers to an ECACH tournament title in 2008 and championship-round appearance the following year.
Under Gadowsky, the Tigers played an up-tempo offensive style. They would shoot the puck from anywhere in the offensive zone.
“His philosophy is to get up-and-down the ice,” Dutchmen senior defenseman Greg Coburn said. “We’re expecting an in-your-face game [tonight] . . . We can prepare for that. If they’re going to shoot from everywhere, we need to box out and make sure that they’re not getting second chances. If we can make that perimeter around [goalies] Troy [Grosenick] or Colin [Stevens], I think we’ll be all right.”
Gadowsky grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and was a fan of the Oilers during their heyday in the 1980s, when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Paul Coffey were scoring goals at a record pace and winning five Stanley Cups between 1984 and 1990.
“Who said that’s our style of play?” Gadowsky said with a chuckle. “We like to try and score goals.”
Union coach Rick Bennett is expecting a high-octane offense from Penn State.
“I don’t see that changing,” Bennett said. “They’ve actually added a little bit more set plays from their power play, which was a little bit different than in the past. . . . They’re going to have four [players] on the rush, so it’s going to be a go-go type of game, and we better be ready to go-go.”
The Dutchmen’s last game was a 3-2 loss to Dartmouth on Nov. 10. After the game, the Dutchmen began preparations for the first trimester’s final exams. The last day of exams was Tuesday.
“It’ll be good to get back on the ice and back in the game,” said senior center Kyle Bodie, who leads the Dutchmen in scoring with three goals and 10 assists. “As for Penn State, they’ve played some good games in the past couple of weeks, and we know that. They’re going to come out hard, so we have to make sure we match their intensity right from the opening draw.”
Bennett hopes that the Dutchmen don’t take the Nittany Lions lightly, and he doesn’t want to see any rust after the two-week break.
“We’ve been off here,” Bennett said. “We’ve been off physically, but mentally, they’ve been on with exams, so we have to switch channels, as a coaching staff, and get their six inches between the ears right on for hockey, and that’s our job.”
Gadowsky watched Union grow into an elite program. He wasn’t surprised at what the Dutchmen accomplished last season in reaching their first Frozen Four.
“I have great respect for not only what the program has accomplished, but how they’ve accomplished it,” Gadowsky said. “Their entire staff has proven to be just incredibly hard working and doing thing right. I think their teams have emulated their staff. They’re always so tough to play against. They work so hard. They’re detailed.”
The Dutchmen will be the only ECACH team the Nittany Lions play this season. Seven of their first nine games have come against Atlantic Hockey opponents.
“It’s an honor to compete against them, right now,” Gadowsky said. “Obviously, they’re going to be the best program that we have faced, so far, and I know how very hard it is to play in their barn. It should be an excellent test for us.”
syracuse 4, rpi 0
SYRACUSE — Melissa Piacentini scored twice to lift the Orange past the Engineers in a non-conference game.
RPI (2-9-2) is 0-4-1 in its last five games.
Holly Carrie-Mattimore had a goal and an assist for Syracuse (7-5-1). Margot Scharfe also scored for the Orange.
RPI 0 0 0 — 0
Syracuse 1 1 2 — 4
First Period — 1, Syracuse, Scharfe 3 (Carrie-Mattimore, Ferrar), 11:01 (pp). Penalty — Gruschow, RPI (cross-checking), 9:22.
Second Period — 2, Syracuse, Piacentini 3 (Renault, Darkangelo), 8:59. Penalties — Marzario, RPI (hooking), 4:56; Greco, Syr (checking), 18:32.
Third Period — 3, Syracuse, Piacentini 4 (Johnson), 7:01. 4, Syracuse, Carrie-Mattimore 6, 13:24 (sh-en). Penalties — Hosoyamada, Syr (tripping), 8:31; Krebs, Syr (elbowing), 11:32.
Shots on Goal — RPI 1-7-6 — 14. Syracuse 14-15-7 — 36.
Power-play opportunities — RPI 0 of 3; Syracuse 1 of 2.
Goalies — RPI, O’Brien 1-8-1 (35 shots-
32 saves). Syracuse, Billadeau 6-2-0 (14-14).
A — 107. T — 1:52.
Referees — John Quigley, Erik Geller. Linesmen — Scott Bell, Aaron Belair.