For two periods against Dartmouth on Saturday, Union showed a rare lapse of undisciplined play.
The Dutchmen gave the Big Green seven power plays, and Dartmouth converted on two of them, both in the first period.
But the Dutchmen team the fans have come to expect showed up in the third period. The players were disciplined, and stayed out of the box. And thanks to that, the two-time defending ECAC Hockey tournament-champion Dutchmen are heading to Lake Placid next weekend for the final four.
Max Novak’s goal at 9:09 of the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and sparked top-seeded Union to a 4-2 win over 10th-seeded Dartmouth at Messa Rink to sweep the best-of-three quarterfinal series, 2-0.
The third-ranked Dutchmen (26-6-4), who are riding a nation-best 11-game unbeaten streak, will face either Clarkson or Cornell in Friday’s semifinal at 4 p.m. Clarkson evened its series against Cornell with a 4-1 win at Lynah Rink. Game 3 is tonight.
“It never gets old,” Dutchmen senior defenseman Mat Bodie said. “This was a goal we set up for ourselves. Step one is complete.”
But the seven power plays Union gave up made the game a lot more interesting. Penalties to Noah Henry and Shayne Gostisbehere led to the power-play goals by Brandon McNally and Tim O’Brien, respectively, that gave the Big Green (10-20-4) a 2-1 lead.
“They were calling penalties. I’ll just leave it at that,” Bodie said.
The Dutchmen were able to kill off the Big Green’s final five power plays. The last one came right after Daniel Carr’s tying goal with 1:15 left when Bodie was called for charging.
“Our penalty kill did a great job tonight after the first two penalty kills,” said Carr, who recorded his third
20-goal season. “Those two were just part of the learning curve. We’re going to learn from those and move forward.”
The seven power plays were the most Union allowed since giving Lake Superior State eight in an Oct. 18 6-5 overtime loss. But there was a lot more on the line against Dartmouth.
“How important is it to you? That’s the message,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “I thought our leaders did a good job. I thought, just in general, everybody bought in. It was important, and it has to be important if you want to keep playing on.”
Novak was to the left of Dartmouth goalie Charles Grant when he tipped a Jeff Taylor right-point shot. Grant made the save, but the rebound went to Novak. With his back to Grant, Novak lifted a backhander over Grant’s glove.
“After Jeff shot, the puck just came right to me,” Novak said. “I had a second, so I just tried to throw it at the far post. Luckily, it went chicken wing on him and found the back of the net.”
Daniel Ciampini sealed the deal on an empty-net goal with 51.1 seconds left. And now, the Dutchmen have an opportunity to win a third straight Whitelaw Cup.
“Like we talked about [Friday night], the hardest thing to do is close out a team,” Carr said. “They played great tonight, hats off to them. We got a few good bounces there. Max scored a huge goal for us. … It was a fun series to play in.”
Union’s shutout streak lasted a record 200 minutes, 45 seconds. The old mark was 198:44, set in 1996-97. That was all done by Trevor Koenig. Colin Stevens’ shutout streak was 140:45. He made 33 saves. …
Union finished the season with a 12-game home winning streak.
Dartmouth 2 0 0 — 2
Union 1 1 2 — 4
First Period — 1, Union, Vecchione 10 (Ciampini, Carr), 4:34. 2, Dartmouth, McNally 7 (Opperman, Neiley), 11:38 (pp). 3, Dartmouth, O’Brien 6 (Beamish, Mosey), 13:01 (pp). Penalties — Mosey, Dart (holding), 1:43; Henry, Uni (holding), 10:27; Gostisbehere, Uni (hooking), 12:54; Gostisbehere, Uni (elbowing), 18:34.
Second Period — 4, Union, Carr 20 (Vecchione), 18:45. Penalties — Gingras, Uni (tripping), 2:39; Wilkins, Uni (interference), 8:40; Opperman, Dart (cross-checking), 9:50; Ciampini, Uni (tripping), 10:52; Neiley, Dart (interference), 15:56; McNally, Dart (slashing), 18:08; Cruice, Uni (charging), 18:08; Bodie, Uni (charging), 18:45.
Third Period — 5, Union, Novak 9 (Taylor), 9:09. 6, Union, Ciampini 18 (Vecchione), 19:08 (en). Penalties — None.
Shots on Goal — Dartmouth 11-11-13 — 35. Union 11-10-10 — 31.
Power-play opportunities — Dartmouth 2 of 7; Union 0 of 3.
Goalies — Dartmouth, Grant 9-13-3 (31 shots-28 saves). Union, Stevens 22-4-2 (35-33).
A — 2,147. T — 2:15.
Referees — Robert St. Lawrence, Cameron Lynch. Linesmen — Jim Briggs, Joe Testa.