Union didn’t play a perfect game against Yale in their ECAC Hockey tournament semifinal game Friday night.
But it was very close to perfection.
Goalie Troy Grosenick stopped all 34 shots he faced, the penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5 and first-period goals by Wayne Simpson and Daniel Carr ignited the fourth-seeded Dutchmen to a 5-0 victory over the third-seeded Bulldogs at Boardwalk Hall.
“I wouldn’t say it was a perfect game,” Union center Max Novak said, “but it’s not one that we’d be too upset about.”
The defending ECACH tournament-champion Dutchmen (20-12-5) will face seventh-seeded Brown in tonight’s title game at 7. The Bears shocked top-seeded Quinnipiac, 4-0, in the first game.
Union seeks to become the first team to repeat as ECACH tournament champions since St. Lawrence did it in 2000 and 2001. It’s the third time in four years that the Dutchmen have reached the title game. They lost to Cornell in 2010.
“I don’t know if we played a full 60 minutes yet,” Carr said. “We had some segments where we were running around. But one of the big things is that it shows the maturity level of our team. It starts with our captains — Mat Bodie, Kyle Bodie and Greg Coburn. They settled the guys down. That was huge.”
Grosenick earned his second shutout of the season, and the first of his career in the postseason. He didn’t have much traffic in front of him.
“I could see every shot,” Grosenick said. “Our D-men and forwards were blocking shots and letting [me] see the puck. That’s a team win, and that’s what it takes to win in the playoffs.”
Grosenick helped the penalty kill limit Yale to eight shots on goal in the Bulldogs’ five power-play chances.
“It starts with your goaltender,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “It’s an old cliche, but it does. Troy started it off, and our forwards and ‘D’ fed off of him.”
Simpson scored his 16th goal of the year 2:59 into the game. He ripped a wrister from the left circle over goalie Jeff Malcolm’s glove.
Carr got his 15th of the season with 4:50 left in the period. A Matt Wilkins shot deflected off of a Yale defender and to Carr in the left circle. Malcolm got a pad on the shot, but the puck trickled in.
“It was huge,” Carr said about getting off to the 2-0 lead. “We worked on it all week, just playing for the first goal, in practice. We know Yale’s a fast starting team, so we had to match that.”
The Dutchmen scored twice in the first five minutes of the second period.
Novak led a two-on-one rush down the right wing. With Matt Hatch a decoy on the left side, Novak fired a shot over Malcolm’s left shoulder 21 seconds into the second for his seventh goal of the year.
“ ‘Hatchie’ made a good little chip to me,” Novak said. “I was able to beat the ‘D’ wide. I kind of held it there for a while, waiting for ‘Hatchie’ again backdoor. Their goalie cheated a little bit. There was a little opening short side, so I just put it in.”
Josh Jooris was in front of the net when he redirected a Wilkins shot from the right-wing boards past Malcolm at 5:00.
“That’s what we talked about,” said Jooris, who has 10 goals on the season. “[Assistant] coach [Joel] Beal actually mentioned the shift before to get in front of the net if you want to score goals. That’s where I have to be. So I parked myself in front of the net. It was a great forecheck by ‘Carrsie’ to start it and force [the turnover] on the rim. ‘Wilks’ was in the right spot. He just threw it on net, and I was lucky to get a tip on it.”
Sam Coatta scored Union’s final goal with 26 seconds left. That extended the Dutchmen’s streak to 16 straight periods of scoring a goal.
Now, the Dutchmen face a Brown team that has given them fits over the years. Union won the season series, 1-0-1.
Union’s experience of playing in the title game could give it a skate up on Brown.
“That’s going to be big,” Jooris said. “We’ve been here before, so we’re going to use that to our advantage.”
Union 2 2 1 — 1
Yale 0 0 0 — 0
First Period — 1, Union, Simpson 16 (K. Bodie, Stuart), 2:59. 2, Union, Carr 15 (Wilkins, Gostisbehere), 15:10. Penalty — Novak, Uni (hooking), 7:24.
Second Period — 3, Union, Novak 7 (Sullivan, Coburn), :21. 4, Union, Jooris 10 (Wilkins), 5:00. Penalties — Roy, Uni (high-sticking), 2:17; Obuchowski, Yale (contact to head-roughing), 6:12; Root, Yale (hooking), 9:44; Gostisbehere, Union (hooking), 12:24; Agostino, Yale (roughing), 19:48.
Third Period — 5, Union, Coatta 2 (Ikkala), 19:34. Penalties — K. Bodie, Uni (cross-checking), 6:53; Ruffolo, Yale (interference), 7:13; Hatch, Uni (tripping), 8:29.
Shots on Goal — Union 14-8-13 — 35. Yale 11-13-10 — 34.
Power-play opportunities — Union 0 of 3; Yale 0 of 5.
Goalies — Union, Grosenick 15-9-5 (34 shots-34 saves). Yale, Malcolm 16-5-2 (34-30).
A — 3,145. T — 2:19.
Referees — Peter Feola, Scott Whittemore. Linesmen — Glen Cooke, Jim Briggs.