It took some time, but Union hockey junior forward Daniel Ciampini is finally showing the offensive talent that he displayed during his junior hockey career with the St. Michael’s Buzzers.
Ciampini is one of the hottest Dutchmen. Although his six-game goal-scoring streak was snapped in Saturday’s 6-2 win over St. Lawrence that clinched the ECAC Hockey tournament top seed for the Dutchmen, Ciampini extended his point-scoring streak to seven games with an assist on Nick Cruice’s first-period goal.
The 23-year-old Ciampini, a native of Concord, Ontario, is having the best season of his college career. He leads the team in goals with 16, and is second in points with 30.
Coming into the season, Ciampini had 14 goals and 13 assists in 52 career games. Last season, Ciampini, who had 208 points in 154 games with St. Michaels, showed some flashes of how good he could be offensively, getting 11 goals and 10 assists in 36 games.
“I’ve done pretty much the same thing both years,” Ciampini said. “I usually go out and do extra ice Mondays and Wednesdays. But I think it’s just getting to understand the game a bit and making it a lot simpler. There were times last year when I was trying to make plays, but they were a little bit too tough to make. Now, the same play that I’m seeing, whether it be on the power play, or five-on-five or penalty-kill time, now that I’m getting penalty-kill time, you start to see the simpler you keep it, the much better off you are.
“For me, it’s just being able to keep it simple. It’s something me and coach [Rick] Bennett talked about at the beginning of the year. I think it’s been paying off for me in the long run.”
During his point-scoring streak, Ciampini has seven goals and four assists. He scored the first two goals of Friday’s 5-0 win over Clarkson, and also had an assist for a season-high three-point game, the third of his college career.
“He’s being rewarded for his hard work that no one sees,” Bennett said after the Clarkson game. “Everyone sees the games, but the work that he’s put in the mornings working on his shot, him and Sam Coatta out there, just working on their game, and Dan Carr does the same thing. It’s a gift, too, but by the same token, they work on their game. But ‘Champ’ has made a nice evolution here, and it’s through hard work.”
Ciampini is becoming more and more a student of the game through watching video.
“You begin to become more comfortable,” Ciampini said. “This is my third year now, so you get a little more experience. You get to see guys’ tendencies more and what they do and don’t do. Watching video freshman and sophomore year, you would watch your shifts. Now you’re watching for tendencies of guys and start to pick up on things here and there.”
One of the memorable goals Ciampini scored this season was also the most dramatic, and a game-winner.
As regulation time was winding down in the Dec. 1 game at Penn State and with the score tied, 4-4, Ciampini burst down the left wing from the neutral zone into the Nittany Lions’ zone. He made a move that caused Penn State defenseman David Thompson to fall down. Ciampini then sped by two other Penn State defenders, got goalie Eamon McAdam down and then deposited a backhander past McAdam’s left pad.
There was only three seconds left.
“To be honest, I didn’t know how much time was left,”
Ciampini said. “I wasn’t sure. I thought there was 40 seconds left on the clock. For me, in my head, it didn’t seem like a last-second, dire play that was going to happen.
“I got the puck from [Max] Novak. I knew they were heading for a change. I had one of two options. I was pretty tired, so either I fire it on net, or try to make the move. At that point and time, it’s a 4-4 game, you’ve got to take risks. I ended up making a move. I kind of lost the puck, to be honest. It got caught in [Thompson’s] feet. He went down to look at it. As he looked down at it, he crossed over, but he crossed over the opposite way and I was able to get in on the net. The goalie challenged pretty far, and I was able to put it in.
“I didn’t know there was three seconds left until Shayne [Gostisbehere] jumped on top of me.”
Ciampini is enjoying the added responsibility of killing penalties this season. He leads the team with two short-handed goals, including the opening goal of Friday’s game.
“It just adds another dynamic,” Ciampini said. “I kind of waited my turn. Last year, coach Bennett put me in a little bit more consistently in the lineup. He ended up giving me a little bit of a rope and put me on the power play, and I kind of stuck there. He didn’t want to give me too much too soon, and I don’t blame him. I tried to master the power play and try to add another dimension on that unit we had last year. We were pretty successful.
“If I had been given the penalty kill at that point and time, I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it. . . . I trust coach Bennett. He’s been through the development process. It’s definitely showing that I can play in both zones. That’s something I want to be able to do.”
Union remains third in the USCHO.com/NCAA Hockey top-20 poll for the third straight week. The Dutchmen (16-3-1 ECACH, 22-6-4 overall) earned 901 points, 17 more than last week’s poll. . . .
Union hockey announced Monday that tickets for its best-of-three ECAC Hockey tournament quarterfinal series are now on sale. The games will be March 14, March 15 and, if necessary, March 16. All games will be at 7 p.m. at Messa Rink.
Tickets cost $36 for adults for the three-game series, and $18 for students with ID.
Individual game ticket costs are $12 for adults and $6 for students with ID. Tickets can be purchased online at UnionAthleticsTickets.com. For more information, call 388-6020.