Union came into Friday’s ECAC Hockey clash against Dartmouth having the top-ranked power play and the No. 2 penalty kill in the nation.
But when the Dutchmen needed their special teams to come through at critical junctures late in the game, they failed.
Rick Pinkston scored a game-tying power-play goal with less than five minutes left in the third period, and the 16th-ranked Big Green killed off a power play early in overtime to earn a 2-2 tie against the No. 18 Dutchmen before a sellout crowd of 2,271 at Messa Rink and a national audience watching on NBC Sports Network.
“Special teams have been a huge part of our team identity so far this year,” Dutchmen junior defenseman Mat Bodie said. “Tonight, we just didn’t get it done.”
The Big Green (7-5-2 ECACH, 11-7-3 overall) became the first team this season to score more than one power-play goal in a game against the Dutchmen (6-4-4, 13-8-5). Union came into the contest having killed 91.2 percent (93-for-102) of the opponents’ power plays, but Dartmouth went 2-for-3. Eric Neiley scored on one midway though the second period.
Union’s power play, which was at 26.3 percent (31-for-118), went
1-for-5. But the Dutchmen struggled to generate anything when they got a power play 20 seconds into overtime after Eric Robinson was called for elbowing. They managed just two shots on goal, and those came when Josh Jooris jammed at the puck twice on goalie Cab Morris with under 10 seconds left in the penalty.
“Our specialty teams let us down tonight,” an angry Union coach Rick Bennett said. “That’s the bottom line. We had some passengers on the top-six forwards. At this time of the year, you can’t have that. You just can’t. And all those guys have been given a great opportunity.”
Union looked good on its first four power plays, generating 11 shots on goal. Bodie scored the Dutchmen’s lone power-play goal with 6:59 left in the second to give Union a 2-1 lead.
But the Dutchmen lacked cohesion during the overtime power play.
“We were trying to force some plays, I thought,” Bodie said. “We didn’t keep it simple. That’s what cost us getting the ‘W’ there.”
“We all know the game is on TV,” Bennett said. “But the show is on the ice. The show is to try to put that thing in the back of the net and just worry about the game and keeping it simple, which we always preach. . . . Hopefully, that’s a learning curve for us.”
Dartmouth’s last power play was set up when Dutchmen sophomore forward Daniel Ciampini pulled down Alex Goodship in the neutral zone. It was a needless penalty.
“I wouldn’t say it was the hardest-working penalty,” Bennett said. “It’s amazing. We’ve gotten away with some lucky ones with the too many men, and haven’t gotten punished for it. But maybe this is like a justification. Yeah, it was lazy. We’ve got to curb it.”
Pinkston caught a break on his goal. His shot from the high slot hit the left post. The puck caromed off the post, hit goalie Troy Grosenick on his back side and rolled over the goal line.
“It was huge for us,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “We needed to cash in. . . . To get that power-play goal and get a point out of here is a good one for us.”
After a scoreless first period, the Dutchmen took a 1-0 lead 3:25 into the second period. Matt Hatch raced down the left wing, skated around the net and threw the puck out in front. Kevin Sullivan skated to the net and rammed the puck past Morris.
“Matt Hatch did a great play,” Bennett said. “Take the ‘D’ wide and get it deep, and make a play. ‘Sully’s’ going to the net hard like he’s going to get those goals. ‘Sully’s’ not getting goals coming down the wall [with] slapshot goals. It’s not Steve Yzerman. The quicker we all figure this out, the better off we’re going to be.”
It was Sullivan’s first goal of the season, and just his third point.
“I didn’t have to do much there,” said Sullivan, a junior forward. “Hatch made a great play. He drove wide, and Jooris went to the net. I was just lucky to be driving the net in that spot. It’s been a while, so it’s nice to get one.”
Bodie had a nice goal. He toe- dragged the puck at the top of the slot, and a Dartmouth defender slid by him. Bodie then sent a wrist shot past Morris’ left side.
“That’s something we watched on video this week,” Bodie said. “Their guys, when they are coming across, they slide over the shooting lane. That’s exactly what happened. ‘Wilks’ [Matt Wilkins] made a great pass up to me, and I believe him and ‘Novs’ [Max Novak] were in front of the goalie screening. [Assistant] coach [Jason] Tapp said high on this goalie from the point, so I shot high. It had eyes.”
Dartmouth 0 1 1 0 — 2
Union 0 2 0 0 — 2
First Period — None. Penalties — Keenan, Dart (high-sticking), 11:54; K. Bodie, Uni (interference), 19:03.
Second Period — 1, Union, Sullivan 1 (Hatch, Coburn), 3:25. 2, Dartmouth, Neiley 5 (Bullock, Sikura), 9:25 (pp). 3, Union, M. Bodie 3 (Wilkins, Carr), 13:01 (pp). Penalties — Keenan, Dart (slashing), 12:08; Robinson, Dart (hitting after whistle), 18:37; Walsh, Dart (cross-checking), 18:37; Simpson, Uni (hitting after whistle), 18:37.
Third Period — 4, Dartmouth, Pinkston 3 (Keenan, Walsh), 15:05 (pp). Penalties — Boldt, Dart (hooking), 8:36; Ciampini, Uni (tripping), 14:41.
Overtime — None. Penalties — Robinson, Dart (elbowing), :20; Neiley, Dart (roughing), 5:00; Keenan, Dart (roughing), 5:00; Carr, Uni (roughing), 5:00; M. Bodie, Uni (roughing), 5:00
Shots on Goal — Dartmouth 10-10-5-1 — 26. Union 13-12-11-3 — 39.
Power-play opportunities — Dartmouth 2 of 3; Union 1 of 5.
Goalies — Dartmouth, Morris 8-3-2 (39 shots-37 saves). Union, Grosenick 9-6-5
A — 2,271. T — 2:30.
Referees — Tom Steinel Jr., Andy O’Brien. Linesmen — Jason Shattie, Bill Bredin.