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Vidmar is back, and Union sure needs him

Vidmar is back, and Union sure needs him

Junior wing suffered nasty cut, but is again well-armed to help Dutchmen take on one of best teams in country
Vidmar is back, and Union sure needs him
Sebastian Vidmar and the Union Dutchmen take on No. 3 Clarkson on Friday.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

SCHENECTADY — It isn't pretty, despite the wonderful job the Union College medical staff performed on Sebastian Vidmar's left forearm.

While Vidmar has a variety of tattoo sleeving on his right arm, his previously bare left arm now has a nasty scar snaking across the inside, midway between the wrist and elbow.

He doesn't even remember exactly what happened on Dec. 10, but a collision with a Massachusetts player along the boards left Vidmar with a deep cut, and the Messa Rink ice crew with a pool of blood to clean up.

Vidmar returned to the lineup last weekend, and it was a beautiful thing for the Dutchmen, to see him wristing cross-ice passes, two of which resulted in goals. And the junior wing's comeback was doubly important considering junior center Brett Supinski continues to be out indefinitely.

The Dutchmen will have their arms full at 7 on Friday night, as they welcome the No. 3 team in the country, Clarkson, to Messa Rink, followed by St. Lawrence on Saturday. Clarkson leads ECAC Hockey at 8-0-0 and is 16-3-1 overall; two of the Golden Knights' three losses were on the road against Minnesota.

Vidmar didn't waste any time making his presence felt against Dartmouth last Friday. He broke into the offensive zone, drew two defenders in the left circle and found Jack Adams on right wing to make it 1-0 at 9:45 of the first period. Vidmar had another assist on Cole Maier's goal to make it 3-0.

On Saturday against Harvard, he held the puck at the right point, waited for Adams to filter through then put a long diagonal pass on the tape of Ryan Walker's stick for a redirection and a 1-0 lead.

"You see his impact right away," Maier said.

"You guys have been seeing it all year," sophmore Anthony Rinaldi said. "Sebastian's a huge player for our team. He provides leadership, and the plays he makes out there are incredible. He makes everyone around him better."

Fortunately for Union and Vidmar, the injury came at a favorable spot on the schedule, since the Dutchmen went on holiday break right after the UMass game.

Vidmar, who is tied with Rinaldi for fourth on the team with 17 points, only missed two games, at Nebraska Omaha on Dec. 29-30. Both were losses.

"I had a little extra energy because of that, because of being back," he said. "It was a one-in-a-million freak accident, I guess. Just unlucky. But I was lucky it wasn't more damage, and we have a great trainer and great doctors taking care of me. The recovery process worked out really smooth, and I'm back.

"I have a nice scar now that healed."

The third-place Dutchmen (7-3-0, 11-11-1) now must address the scar tissue that remains from a 3-2 loss at Clarkson on Nov. 4.

The Golden Knights took it to Union, especially on the specialty teams, limiting the Dutchmen to three shots on goal over the course of eight minutes of power play.

Clarkson, meanwhile, scored all three of its goals on the power play.

Besides the dearth of shots with the man advantage, Union had a total of 24 shots in the game, making it all the easier for one of the best goalies in the country, Jake Kielly, who is tied for second nationally in save percentage (.948) and has allowed just 27 goals in 20 games (1.35 GAA).

"I felt like we competed against them," Rinaldi said. "They had three power-play goals and no 5-on-5 goals, so keep them off the power play as much as we can. Get some more shots, create some havoc in front of the net and keeping it simple is probably the most important thing."

"You can start with great goaltending, specialty teams might be the best in the country and they just roll," Union head coach Rick Bennett said. "They frustrate you. They play tremendously hard, they're aggressive and you better be able to think before you get that puck. Up there, at times, I don't know if that was quite the case.

"They can play any kind of game you want. That's what makes them a great team, that they can play any kind of style."

If the Dutchmen need any more motivation, besides playing one of the best teams in the country, they're coming off a loss in overtime at Harvard that Bennett called one of " the ones at the end of the year where you say, 'Geez, that was our game.'"

The Dutchmen were less than 15 seconds away from securing a valuable standings point, then surrendered what amounted to a breakaway off a faceoff. Union failed three times to protect a one-goal lead.

"I thought we were the Super Friends," Bennett said, referring to a popular Saturday morning cartoon in the 1970s and '80s. "And what I mean by that is we never killed the villain in that game. We never got that 2-zip lead and kept letting them come back and come back, and it'll catch you. It will catch you.

"Well, the music wasn't on [in the locker room], I can tell you that. It was down. It was down. It was one of those where it took the coaching staff a while to come into the locker room. That's usually a sign, too, that it was one of the tougher, if not the toughest loss of this past year. We were right there, and I thought we were the better team. I really did."

RPI ADDS TRANSFER

TROY — RPI, which will also host St. Lawrence and Clarkson this weekend, has added North Dakota transfer Mike Gornall to the roster.

By NCAA Division I regulations, he is ineligible to play this season, but is allowed to practice with the team.

"Mike is a hard-nosed player, who brings a lot of energy to the rink every day," head coach Dave Smith said in a release. "He was a top recruit coming out of juniors and has valuable NCAA Tournament experience." 

"I'm very excited to be a part of the RPI family," Gornall said. "RPI was an easy decision, because the hockey program competes in a tremendous conference and has a history of success in athletics as well as academics. Troy is a beautiful city and I feel that this institution offers the means necessary for players to develop and flourish, both on and off the ice. I can't wait to see what the future holds."

A sophomore out of Irwin, Pa., Gornall appeared in 17 games for the Fighting Hawks last season, netting two goals, including one game-winner, and an assist. One of his tallies was a game-winner, and he was a -2 with four minor penalties for eight minutes.

Gornall played in three games at UND in 2015-16, scoring one goal. Prior to joining the Fighting Hawks, he was a member of the Topeka Roadrunners of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). A captain during the 2014-15 season, he compiled 49 points on 15 goals and 34 assists in 58 regular season games.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or mikemac@dailygazette.com. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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