In his two years at Union College, sophomore defenseman Sebastien Gingras has shown some flashes of offensive prowess that made him a dynamic scorer in junior hockey.
But the effort that Gingras showed in the third period of last Saturday’s 5-3 win over defending NCAA champion Yale is one that he hopes to continue this weekend when the ECAC Hockey-leading and third-ranked Dutchmen hit the road to face No. 11 Cornell tonight at 7 at Lynah Rink and No. 19 Colgate at 7 p.m. Saturday at Starr Rink.
Gingras had the best game of his career at Union with three assists against the Bulldogs.
“I think I’ve had a lot of good games the past few years here,” Gingras said. “But I think that was a very good effort there last weekend. I was ready to go. I think I skated very well with the puck. I created chances for myself.”
Gingras got his first assist on Theo DiPauli’s goal four minutes into the second period that tied the score, 2-2. But it was his two third-period helpers that opened some eyes.
On the first one, Gingras got the puck at center ice and headed down the left wing, racing past two Yale players and skipping past a potential check by Bulldogs defenseman Ryan Obuchowski,
Gingras didn’t get much of a shot off, but the puck had enough momentum to reach Matt Hatch, who was stationed to the right of the net, and he fired it home to make it 4-2 with 11:31 left.
Late in the game, Gingras’ first and second attempts on a breakaway were stopped by Yale goalie Alex Lyon. but Matt Wilkins buried the third chance to give the Dutchmen a three-goal lead and seal the win.
“Sebastien is an elite skater, and he showed that,” Union assistant coach Joe Dumais said after the game. “He made a lot of plays with his feet, and he got rewarded for it.”
It was an important game for Gingras, who came to Union with impressive credentials. The Pierrefonds, Quebec, native collected 33 goals and 93 assists in 114 games for the Central Junior Hockey League’s Brockville Braves.
Gingras had a two-goal game at Bowling Green on Oct. 12, 2012, but that was his only multipoint game until last Saturday.
“It was pretty important,” said Gingras, who has a goal and six assists this season after having two goals and five assists last year. “It’s good for the confidence getting some points there. It’s nice to contribute for the team that way offensively. I just have to focus on doing everything right.”
While Union coach Rick Bennett as pleased with what he saw as he watched the game at home as he served the final game of his four-game suspension for the Mayor’s Cup brawl, he stopped short of calling it a breakout game for Gingras.
“I thought he was playing really well last year at the end,” Bennett said. “I would say, for this year, it was one of his top games. It’s definitely in him. It was just nice that he did it against Yale.”
While the offensive ability is there, Bennett wants Gingras to develop his defensive game, too.
“He’s always had offensive talent. It’s just trying to put everything together,” Bennett said. “He’s only a sophomore. It takes some time.”
It has taken some time because playing college hockey is much different than being in junior hockey.
“Guys are bigger, stronger,” Gingras said. “You have to score in different ways.
Juniors is very wide open. College hockey is a tight defensive game. Most of the goals on the power plays are goals around the net, so you definitely have to work on shooting and getting shots through. That’s very important.”
Gingras is the son of Gaston Gingras, who was a defenseman in the NHL for 10 seasons and won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986.
“The one thing is he was a very good skater,” Gingras said of his father. “He always told me to emphasise my skating and getting my feet moving, so that was a great contribution from him. Also, his shot. He always had a good shot. I’ve been working on that a lot lately, and it’s been helping a lot.”
In their last meeting, the Dutchmen (13-3 ECACH, 19-6-3 overall) held Cornell (8-4-4, 12-5-5) to 11 shots on goal in a 3-0 win Nov. 9 at Messa Rink. The Big Red is coming off a 6-1 drubbing by Colgate last Saturday.
“There’s six games left. Every game matters,” Bennett said. “We can’t take any game lightly, or worry about whether one team is angry or not. If Cornell is angry, so are we. We want those two points as much as they do.”