Union coach Rick Bennett couldn’t have been more pleased with his
16th-ranked Dutchmen’s effort against Lake Superior State on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Bennett and the Dutchmen, the result was the same as Friday — a one-goal defeat. And there is a goaltending issue brewing.
Despite having a 48-17 shot advantage, the Dutchmen dropped a 3-2 non-conference men’s college hockey decision to the Lakers at Messa Rink.
The Dutchmen (1-2-1) lost a wild 6-5 overtime game to the Lakers on Friday in a game where neither team’s defense played well. On Saturday, the Dutchmen’s offense kept up the pressure on goalie Kevin Kapalka, but he stood tall, especially in the third period, when he stopped 19 shots as the Dutchmen sought the tying goal.
“Forty-eight to 17 in shots,” Bennett said. “You tell me [if the effort was better]. That was pretty impressive. I mentioned that to them. I’ve been through some ups and downs here. I’ve been here when we’ve finished in last place, and I’ve been here when we’ve finished in first. That was one of the more impressive performances that I’ve seen from a team from Union, so we are very happy.”
Lakers coach Jim Roque felt fortunate.
“There’s going to be nights when you play great like Union did tonight and don’t win,” Roque said. “And other nights, you don’t deserve to win. Those work themselves out over the season.
“I thought they were the better team tonight.”
Dutchmen senior defenseman Mat Bodie, who assisted on Union’s second-period power-play goals by Matt Wilkins and Michael Pontarelli, believes his team deserved a better fate.
“I thought guys played hard,” Bodie said. “[Just] a couple of bad bounces, but we kept going right to the very end. I thought that showed character. It’s early in the season, so right now we’re focused on how we’re playing, not necessarily the results.”
Meanwhile, Union freshman goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos was pulled with 7:04 left in the second period after allowing three goals on 11 shots. Junior Dillon Pieri replaced him, and he stopped all six shots he faced.
It was just Pieri’s second appearance of his Union career. He made a save in the final 3:52 of Union’s 7-3 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Nov. 3, 2012.
“I was [nervous] just a little bit when I heard my name on the bench,” Pieri said. “But realistically, it’s just another game. Just try to go in there, have fun and give the guys a chance to win.”
After Pieri came in, the Dutchmen outshot the Lakers, 27-6. But the only goal they scored was Pontarelli’s power-play tally late in the second.
With the status of No. 1 goalie and Niskayuna native Colin Stevens up in the air because of an upper-body injury he suffered last Friday against Bowling Green, Pieri and Sakellaropoulos will battle in practice this week to see who gets the start Friday at UConn, Union’s final non-conference game before the start of ECAC Hockey play Nov. 1.
“[Assistant coach] Jason Tapp is going to work with the goalies like he always does,” Bennett said. “We’re going to see who is the best this week and see who gets the shot on Friday night.”
The three goals Sakellaropoulos allowed were tough. Eric Drapluk took a Dan Radke drop pass at the right circle and fired a shot off the post and past Sakellaropoulos with 37.2 left in the first period to make it 1-0. Daniel Vernance was allowed to come out from the left-wing corner and skate to the net on his goal at 8:23 of the second to give the Lakers a 2-0 lead.
Just 1:37 after Wilkins cut the Lakers’ lead to 2-1, Colin Campbell was allowed to park in front of the net and tip in a Pete Spratte left-point shot.
Asked if he blamed Sakellaropoulos or pulled him to wake up the team, Bennett said, “It was a little bit of both. It was just one of those things where, sometimes, you don’t have it. But it’s easy to throw it on the goalie. We’re not throwing it on Alex. It’s a team game. What about the guy who let the guy tip it in?
“It’s everybody. We’re not going to blame one guy.”
The last time Union lost a two-game weekend series at Messa was Nov. 11-12, 2011, when Brown and Yale won. The last time the Dutchmen went winless on the weekend was Nov. 30-Dec. 1 of last year, when they lost to Quinnipiac and tied Princeton.
Lake Superior State 1 2 0 — 3
Union 0 2 0 — 2
First Period — 1, Lake Superior State, Drapluk 1 (Radke, Perfetto), 19:22. Penalties — Drapluk, LSS (holding), 11:48; Globke, LSS (slashing), 15:26.
Second Period — 2, Lake Superior State, Verance 1 (Schmitt), 8:23. 3, Union, Wilkins 1 (Bodie), 11:19 (pp). 4, Lake Superior State, Campbell 1 (Spratte, Globke), 12:56. 5, Union, Pontarelli 4 (Bodie, Sullivan), 19:04 (pp). Penalties — Dommett, LSS (roughing), 2:40; Ciampini, Uni (roughing), 2:40; Wilkins, Uni (hitting from behind), 5:29; Czuczman, LSS, double minor (holding stick, roughing), 10:23; Sullivan, Uni (roughing), 10:23; Henry, Uni (interference), 13:09; McKay, LSS (hooking), 16:41; McKay, LSS (holding), 18:51; Radke, LSS (holding), 19:49.
Third Period — None. Penalty — Gostisbehere, Uni (tripping), 13:48.
Shots on Goal — Lake Superior State 5-7-5 — 17. Union 10-19-19 — 48.
Power-play opportunities — Lake Superior State 0 of 3; Union 2 of 6.
Goalies — Lake Superior State, Kapalka 1-0-0 (48 shots-45 saves). Union, Sakellaropoulos 1-2-1 (11-8), Pieri (12:56 second, 6-6).
A — 1,429. T — 2:08.
Referees — Chip McDonald, Scott Wheeler. Linesmen — Nate Turner, Jim Briggs.