SCHENECTADY — The Union men’s hockey team preaches “pack of wolves” as a theme on offense, getting to the net, and staying there until the puck is in the net.
It’s their mantra.
It could be on a team poster.
We’ve covered this ground.
On Friday, the Dutchmen did not come out with the ferocity and scruffiness of wolves so much as the tidiness and fancy grooming of a more refined breed, and it showed on the scoreboard.
There must have been a full moon somewhere, though, because in the second period, the Dutchmen transformed, and the result was a 4-1 ECAC Hockey win over Dartmouth at Messa Rink.
At one point, Union (9-1-1, 15-5-2) was being outshot 20-8, but the Dutchmen began to create more action in front of Big Green freshman goalie Adrian Clark, making his first career start, and the result was Brett Supinski’s second power-play goal of the night to give Union a 2-1 lead with 4:18 left in the second.
Defenseman Jeff Taylor blasted a slap shot past Clark with three seconds left in a power play 1:04 into the third period for a 3-1 lead, and the Dutchmen rode a strong performance by senior goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos the rest of the way.
Junior Spencer Foo pushed his points streak to 20 straight games in a big way, figuring in on every goal with three assists and an empty-net goal with 29 seconds left.
“Sometimes we were passing up shots, and that goal [his second] kind of showed us to get to the net,” Supinski said. “The goalie was leaving rebounds all night.
“We were getting pucks in the neutral zone and we weren’t chipping them deep and weren’t chipping them behind defensemen. We were trying to make the cuter play and have pretty goals instead of sticking with what we know. Once we figured that out, we got the results that we like.”
“It’s just a classic case of ... do you want to be good, or do you want to be cute?” Union head coach Rick Bennett said. “That’s all it is. Early on for a couple periods, we wanted to just be cute.”
There was nothing cute about Supinski’s game-winner.
Foo fired it in from the point, Clark stopped it, but Supinski pounced on the rebound. His shot was stopped, but Ryan Scarfo was right there for another whack at it, and when he failed to get it in, Supinski took advantage of his second opportunity and buried it with Clark helplessly scrambling all over the ice.
Taylor’s goal was just about a carbon copy of Supinski’s first goal.
Union got on the scoreboard first when Taylor’s shot from the point headed toward the left post and was deftly tipped by Supinski at an angle inside the right post at 8:45.
Dartmouth tied it up in similar fashion on Carl Hesler’s tip of what appeared to be a harmless, low shot from the point by Josh Hartley while the Big Green were on the power play at 13:52.
Sebastian Vidmar had great scoring chances all night, but couldn’t get one to go. He hit the right post 1:06 into the game, and Clark was able to reach behind and pin it with his glove. Vidmar also half-whiffed on a one-timer at an empty net on a circle-to-circle pass from Foo with 13 seconds left in the first period.
The power play was sharp, though, connecting on three of five chances.
“We’ve been sticking to the process with the power play,” Supinski said. “It clicked against BU, and it kept going tonight with some Grade A chances.”
“It was cohesive, and they stuck with it,” Bennett said. “Our goaltender saved us a bit, too.”
Sakellaropoulos finished with 34 saves and robbed Troy Crema with a big glove save early in the second.
“I was seeing the puck well and needed to bounce back from a high-scoring game against BU,” Sakellaropoulos said. “This was big for my confidence, especially getting back to ECAC play.”
Dartmouth 1 0 0 -- 1
Union 1 1 2 -- 4
First period -- 1, Union, Supinski 4 (J. Taylor, Foo), 8:45 (pp). 2, Dartmouth, Hesler 2 (Hartley, Graber), 13:52 (pp). Penalties -- Toor, Dartmouth (holding), 4:09; Warpecha, Dartmouth (hooking), 7:59; Kolias, Union (elbowing), 12:01.
Second period -- 3, Union, Supinski 5 (Scarfo), 15:42 (pp). Penalties -- Burton, Union (charging), 5:58; Toor, Dartmouth (roughing), 8:41; Supinski, Union (roughing), 8:41; Krug, Union (interference), 12:57; Yau, Dartmouth (holding), 13:45; Hartley, Dartmouth (tripping), 19:29.
Third period -- 4, Union, J. Taylor 7 (Foo, Vecchione), 1:04. 5, Foo 15 (Campbell, Vidmar), 19:31 (en). Penalties -- Krug, Union (interference), 2:10; Campbell, Union (slashing), 4:03; Han, Dartmouth (slashing), 4:24; Graber, Dartmouth (roughing), 18:15; Vecchione, Dartmouth (roughing), 18:15.
Shots on goal -- Dartmouth, 14-13-8--35; Union,
Power-play opportunities -- Dartmouth, 1 of 5; Union, 3 of 5.
Goaltenders -- Dartmouth, Clark 0-1-0 (23 shots-20 saves); Union, Sakellaropoulos 14-3-1 (35-34).
Time -- 2:30. Attendance -- 1,924.
Referees -- Tory Carissimo, Kevin Graber. Linesmen -- Michael Emanatian, Jordan Patarino.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.