One night after getting a share of the Cleary Cup, Union now has not only sole ownership of the Cup, but the top seed for the ECAC Hockey tournament.
Senior forward Daniel Carr scored twice and assisted on another goal on Senior Night, and the third-ranked Dutchmen used a three-goal second period to bury St. Lawrence, 6-2, in the team’s final home game of the regular season at Messa Rink.
The Dutchmen (16-3-1 ECACH, 22-6-4
overall), who got a share of the Cup after their 5-0 win over Clarkson on Friday, are the No. 1 tournament seed for the third time in four years. In 2011 and 2012, the Dutchmen needed to win the final game of the regular season to get that No. 1 seed.
This time, they wrapped it up with two games to go. The Dutchmen, who are 6-0-1 in their last seven overall and winners of 10 straight at Messa, close out the regular season next weekend at Yale and Brown. They will host the best-of-three quarterfinals March 14-16.
“It feels great,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “I guess it’s a little more fitting that it’s on Senior Night, and it’s great for those seniors. We like to share. We’re all about sharing, and we talked about that as a staff. It’s not Christmas. It’s ours. I’m just happy for the guys.
“It says that you’re consistent. That’s one of the things we talked about at the beginning of the year is being consistent. It’s one of our staples, and they really followed up on that. It’s quite impressive. We’ve just got to keep this going.”
Senior defenseman and team captain Mat Bodie is thrilled to get the Cup and the top seed wrapped up with one week left.
“That was definitely the goal coming into the weekend, to put ourselves in a position to clinch at least a share of the Cup,” said Bodie, who had two assists. “Things worked out where we could clinch it outright tonight.”
The Dutchmen dominated the first period, outshooting the Saints (6-10-4, 12-16-4), 18-3. They took a 2-0 lead on goals 22 seconds apart late in the period.
Sebastien Gingras scored the first one on a power play. He was at the top of the left circle when Kevin Sullivan fed him the puck. With the Saints scrambling, Gingras fired a shot that beat Weninger to the glove side.
Daniel Ciampini then led a two-on-one rush down the left wing. He spotted Nick Cruice on the right side, made a perfect pass, and Cruice had an easy tap-in.
“I thought the first period was indicative of how bad we wanted it,” Bodie said. “Guys came ready to play. It would have been easy for the guys to let up a little bit, knowing that we clinched a share. The guys really wanted it. I’m proud of the effort the guys put forward tonight.”
Mike Vecchione ignited the three-goal second when he beat goalie Matt Weninger at 12:55. Union also got a power play as a result of a Brian Ward tripping penalty.
“I got tripped up, and ‘Wilkie’ got it,” Vecchione said. “He drove the net, and everyone kind of collapsed on the net. I found a seam to the back door, and it bounced out to me, and I got it and put it home. I think that just got us going in the second.”
Carr scored on that power play. He was in the right circle when he took a Shayne Gostisbehere pass and fired a one-timer past Weninger with 5:35 left in the second.
Just over two minutes later, Bodie sent Carr in on a breakaway. Carr made no mistake, beating Weninger past his right side and chasing him from the game.
St. Lawrence 0 0 2 — 2
Union 2 3 1 — 6
First Period — 1, Union, Gingras 2 (Sullivan, Lichtenwald), 16:03 (pp). 2, Union, Cruice 6 (Ciampini, Vecchione), 16:25. Penalties — G. Carey, StL (hooking), 12:20; Austin, StL (interference), 14:28.
Second Period — 3, Union, Vecchione 9 (Wilkins), 12:55. 5, Union, Carr 14 (Gostisbehere, Bodie), 14:25 (pp). 5, Union, Carr 15 (Bodie), 16:31. Penalties — Vecchione, Uni (slashing), 10:36; Wick, StL (embellishment), 11:16; Gostisbehere, Uni (slashing), 11:16; Ward, StL (tripping), 12:55.
Third Period — 6, St. Lawrence, Hagen 4 (Raley, Essery), 5:49. 7, Union, Lichtenwald 8 (Wilkins, Carr), 8:52. 8, St. Lawrence, Hughes 16, 10:53. Penalties — Hughes, StL (high-sticking), 10:53; Pontarelli, Uni (roughing), 18:59.
Shots on Goal — St. Lawrence 3-9-14 — 26. Union 18-8-8 — 34.
Power-play opportunities — St. Lawrence 0 of 2; Union 2 of 4.
Goalies — St. Lawrence, Weninger 10-13-4 (25 shots-20 saves), Ward (16:31 second, 9-8). Union, Stevens 19-4-2 (26-24).
A — 2:09. T — 2,087.
Referees — Mike Baker, Andy O’Brien. Linesmen — Andy Petrus, Justin Prusak.