The Union men’s hockey team is on the verge of clinching at least a share of the ECAC Hockey Cleary Cup regular-season title and wrapping up the top seed for the ECACH tournament.
But that isn’t a main concern of Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett right now. He is just hoping to have enough healthy players ready to go tonight when the third-ranked Dutchmen host Clarkson at 7 at Messa Rink.
Union (14-3-1 ECACH, 20-6-4 overall), which is on a five-game unbeaten streak, missed several players in last Saturday’s 4-4 tie against Colgate. Forwards Daniel Carr, Cole Ikkala and Max Novak sat out because of injuries. Carr and Novak were injured the night before against Cornell, while Ikkala hasn’t played since the Jan. 31 game at St. Lawrence.
Also missing last Saturday was forward David Roy, who had a stomach virus. With all the missing forwards, Bennett had to use defenseman Matt Krug as a left winger in the Colgate game.
The Dutchmen can seal the deal on the first-round bye as early as tonight if they beat the Golden Knights (10-8, 17-13-2) and second-place Quinnipiac (11-4-3 ECACH) loses to Cornell. Union would have a six-point lead over Quinnipiac with three games left. Since the teams split the season series, which is the first tiebreaker, Union would get the top seed by having more wins, the second tiebreaker. The Dutchmen would have 15 wins, meaning the Bobcats couldn’t equal that.
“After Colgate, we’re just worried about who’s going to be at practice and who’s not,” Bennett said. “We’re just trying to get ready for Clarkson. I guess it’s just like life. You’re trying to put everything in perspective and want to be organized and, sometimes, you’re thrown a curveball. Other programs deal with it, every sport’s got to deal with it and we’re just, unfortunately, at that point right now where we have a few of these hurdles to get over. We’ve dealt with it from the first game of the year. What made us think it was going to be easy?”
The players aren’t concerning themselves with all of the clinching scenarios. They are thinking about the last time they faced the Golden Knights. The Dutchmen rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to win, 4-3, at Cheel Arena on Feb. 1.
“We haven’t talked about what lies ahead,” Union defenseman Mat Bodie said. “We won that first-round bye, and it was huge to get that last weekend to give a few guys a chance to rest. We’re taking it one game at a time. Clarkson was a big game for us up at their building. Hopefully, we can carry that over into this game.”
All of the injured players are day-to-day, according to Bennett. That makes figuring out who will be in the lineup difficult.
“This is the first time in, basically, three years that I can say I really don’t know what [the lineup] is going to look like [tonight],” Bennett said.
When Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute faces St. Lawrence tonight at 7, the players will be wearing special camouflage uniforms as the team celebrates Military Appreciation Night.
Fans can bid on the one-time used jerseys during the game. There are two organizations that will benefit from the night.
One is Defending The Blue Line, which works to ensure that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of hockey.
The other is the Wounded Warrior Program, is a veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, service and events for wounded veterans of the military actions following the events of Sept. 11.
Ikkala and RPI forward Brock Higgs are two of the 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. They were among the 20 players college hockey nominated for the award in November.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence — community, classroom, character and competition.
Higgs and Ikkala are two of six ECAC Hockey players who are finalists. The others are St. Lawrence’s Greg Carey, Cornell’s Andy Iles, Brown’s Dennis Robertson and Clarkson’s Mark Zarbo.
The other finalists are Denver’s Sam Brittain, Ferris State’s Scott Czarnowczan, Canisius’s Kyle Gibbons and Nebraska-Omaha’s Ryan Walters.
Fan voting is underway and runs through March 31. To vote, go to www.seniorclassaward.com. The winner will be announced at the Frozen Four in Philadelphia April 12-14.
hayhurst to RPI
Toronto Lakeshore Patriots rookie forward Jacob Hayhurst has committed to RPI for the 2016-17 season.
Hayhurst has 13 goals and 18 assists in 47 games this season.
“It’s really exciting,” Hayhurst said on the Patriots’ website. “I chose RPI because I really felt that I had the greatest connection to the coaching staff while I was there visiting, and from the second I walked in, I felt like it was the place I should be.”
He is the second Patriots player to commit to RPI. Defenseman Michael Prapavessis will be joining the Engineers next season.
Yale gave Princeton five power plays in their game last Saturday. Apparently, the Bulldogs didn’t mind it.
The Bulldogs scored three short-handed goals in their 7-5 victory over the Tigers. Jesse Root and Ryan Obuchowski scored in the second period, and Kenny Agostino got the third one when he scored into an empty net with 1:31 left in the game.
Boston College became the first men’s team to clinch a regular-season title this season.
The Eagles wrapped up the Hockey East championship last Saturday with a 5-3 win over Vermont. BC, the top-ranked team in the country, is 15-1-1 in the league. It has won 11 straight league games since suffering their only loss, a 5-1 decision to Maine on Nov. 23
The Eagles (24-4-3 overall) have the nation’s current longest unbeaten streak at 17 games (16-0-1).
Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region did over the past week.
Union junior goalie Colin Stevens (Niskayuna) had 23 saves in last Friday’s 4-1 win over Cornell. He stopped 24 shots in the 4-4 tie against Colgate the next night.
Union freshman defenseman Jeff Taylor (Clifton Park) had an assist in the Colgate game.
Boston University sophomore forward Jordan Juron (Latham) scored a goal in last Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Providence. Her goal snapped a 1-1 tie at 8:44 of the second period.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke (Albany) picked up an assist in last Friday’s 3-2 loss to Minnesota.