SCHENECTADY — You're not allowed to decline penalties in hockey, like you can in football.
Given that option, who knows, perhaps the Union men's hockey team would've considered it on Saturday night.
Yale defeated the Dutchmen 5-3, just Union's second loss in its last 12 games, and did so despite a five-minute major spanning the second and third periods that was piggy-backed by a minor penalty for two minutes of 5-on-3 for Union.
On another Union power play in the second period, the Bulldogs mustered two 2-on-1 breaks for short-handed scoring chances.
Ted Hart recorded a hat trick for Yale, including the game-winner that broke a 3-3 tie with 5:58 left in the third period.
That goal was an illustration of one of the Bulldogs' strengths, quick transition from defense to offense, as a long, fruitless possession by Union was answered by a shot off the post by Robbie DeMontis and the follow-up score by Hart.
"I thought we were ready for the transition," Union head coach Rick Bennett said. "But the kicker was we got frustrated with our 'O' zone play, so we forgot about playing 'D' zone.
"It was really evident by some of their goals, especially the game-winner. Alright, we're down there, we're down there, we're down there. We're all over them. We come back on 'D,' we're trying to get it out, and we leave our slot wide open."
The Dutchmen (6-2-0 ECAC Hockey, 9-7-1 overall) played catch-up all night and finally tied it 3-3 when Anthony Rinaldi tipped in a shot by Sebastian Vidmar 1:20 into the third period.
That came eight seconds after Yale had killed the major to Evan Smith, who also drew a game misconduct for hitting from behind, so despite being outplayed for most of the game, the Dutchmen were still in business.
But Hart, who came in with just one goal in 10 games this season, completed his hat trick, and Latham native Kevin O'Neil, who played at Albany Academy, added an empty-netter with four seconds left, his second goal of the night.
"Maybe we were just trying to do a little too much and should just get more pucks on the net [on the power play]," Union captain Cole Maier said. "We've got to execute at some point."
"We talked about that and knew that coming in, that they were one of the best teams in the country in transition," Vidmar said. "And that comes back to the power play. We gave up so many odd-man rushes on the power play.
"It's work ethic. We weren't supporting each other, and weren't plugged in."
Bennett said the game appeared to be a carryover from Friday's 3-1 win over Brown, in which the Dutchmen dominated the first period, but then were flat through much of the second and third.
He promised some lineup changes, especially after the poor performance of the power play.
"A couple missed assignments; it's unacceptable," he said. "It's unacceptable. And it'll get fixed, because the personnel that I'm using the word 'unacceptable' for will be unacceptable in the stands. You don't want to be plugged in, then you can go sit with your parents. It's that simple."
Yale outplayed Union in the first period and took a 2-0 lead on goals by O'Neil and Hart, who stuffed a rebound past goalie Jake Kupsky while Joseph Campolieto was in the penalty box at 12:48.
Bennett mentioned Yale's prowess in transition during the week, and the Bulldogs put that skill on display for O'Neil's goal, as they took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone to start a 2-on-1 that O'Neil finished off a pass from Luke Stevens.
The Dutchmen got one back at 16:31 when Vidmar wheeled out from the corner to the top of the right circle, found a shooting lane and wristed a puck that got under the arm of goalie Sam Tucker.
Hart, who was denied by Kupsky on a breakaway in the opening minutes of the second period, scored his second goal of the game at 6:47, but the Dutchmen got back within 3-2 just 14 seconds later when Maier buried a juicy rebound of Vas Kolias' slap shot from the point.
Yale 2 1 2 — 5
Union 1 1 1 — 3
First period — 1, Yale, O'Neil 2 (Stevens), 6:49. 2, Yale, Hart 2 (Foley), 12:48 (pp). 3, Union, Vidmar 5 (Rinaldi, Campbell), 16:31. Penalties — Hart, Yale (boarding), 1:49; Campolieto, Union (hooking), 11:28; O'Neil, Yale (holding), 19:58.
Second period — 4, Yale, Hart 3 (Snively, Sweezey), 6:47. 5, Union, Maier 3 (Kolias), 7:01. Penalties — Larkin, Yale (interference), 3:32; Smith, Yale (major-game misconduct, hitting from behind), 16:12; Sweezey, Yale (holding), 16:50.
Third period — 6, Union, Rinaldi 10 (Vidmar, Supinski), 1:20. 7, Yale, Hart 4 (DeMontis), 14:02. 8, Yale, O'Neil (Stevens), 19:56 (en).
Shots on goal — Yale 11-10-9 — 30. Union 6-13-11 — 30.
Power-play opportunities — Yale 1 of 1. Union 0 of 5.
Goalkeepers — Yale, Tucker 4-6-0 (30 shots-27 saves). Union, Kupsky 3-6-1 (29-25).
T — 2:18. A — 1,919.
Referees — Robert St. Lawrence, Kevin Graber. Linesmen — Adam Wood, Jason Shattie.