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Union back line peppers St. Lawrence in 5-4 win

Union back line peppers St. Lawrence in 5-4 win

Dutchmen defensemen make big contribution on offense as team gets back to .500
Union back line peppers St. Lawrence in 5-4 win
Union's Sebastian Vidmar pumps his fist following a Union goal against St. Lawrence on Saturday at Messa Rink.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

SCHENECTADY — The defense did not rest for the Union men's hockey team on Saturday night.

OK, giving up four goals is not the definition of a stalwart defensive performance, but a big part of the Dutchmen's 5-4 win over St. Lawrence at Messa Rink was offensive contribution from the defense.

Sophomore Vas Kolias had a goal and an assist, and freshman Brandon Estes scored his first career goal, which gave Union a 4-3 lead at 5:12 of the third period, clanking one off the post while the Dutchmen had a 5-on-3 advantage.

"It doesn't count unless it's bar down," Kolias cracked about Estes' goal, which was echoed by head coach Rick Bennett in reference to a player finally getting the first one.

The theme, though, after Friday's timid 4-1 loss to Clarkson, was to ... bear down, and Union did that against St. Lawrence, especially with pressure the defensemen applied in transition to offense through speed and aggressive skating.

"It's something that our coaching staff stresses," Kolias said. "We've got six guys, regardless of who's in the lineup, every single one of them can skate. Even Lighter [6-foot-5 Connor Light], big boy, he can move. All of us are capable of getting up in the play."

With the win against last-place St. Lawrence (0-9-1, 4-16-2), the Dutchmen improved to 8-4-0 in ECAC Hockey and 12-12-1 overall.

Estes scored from the point, shifting horizontally to find a sliver of open net, then rifling it past goalie Arthur Brey with a loud clang.

Luc Brown scored his third goal of the season 1:47 later for a 5-3 lead, and although the Saints got within 5-4 with 11:25 left, they didn't have much opportunity to tie it from there.

"Usually that's how it works, bar down, for your first one, top shelf, whatever you want to call it," Bennett said.

"It takes a lot off my shoulders, getting the first one," Estes said. "I can't stop smiling about it. A lot goes to [Sebastian] Vidmar screening the goalie and all the guys moving around making space. I saw the lane and just thought, 'There it is, I'll shoot it.'"

Union trailed 2-0 midway through the first period, but didn't fold the tent, and responded with goals by Kolias and Anthony Rinaldi, his 12th of the season, 13 seconds apart late in the first.

The teams swapped goals in the second period, by Cole Maier for Union and Philip Alftberg for SLU, to take a 3-3 tie into the third.

Bennett had harsh words about the team in the post-game interview after the Clarkson loss and promised more harsh assessment in the Saturday morning video review. The Dutchmen took that to heart.

"It's never easy going into a video session when there might be some negative things, but the way we responded was positive," Brown said. "It was a hard-fought game for the full 60, and we need to do that all the time."

"You get 22 [ECACH] games, and it seems like every game is a Stanley Cup game," Bennett said. "From the bench perspective, that was what we needed, a nice, tight, close win. And you could feel it on the bench tonight.

"Even down two-zip, it kind of reminded me a little bit of the old days. 'That doesn't matter, we're coming back.' It was fun to sit back on the bench and watch."

Kolias' goal started that.

Liam Morgan won a long puck battle among six players along the boards, skated out of the corner toward the net and rifled a pass to Kolias streaking in from the point for a one-timer.

Rinalidi tied it at 2-2 with another nose-for-the-net goal.

"It was actually funny, because when he [Morgan] came out of the corner, I was yelling to the heavens," Kolias said. "I was like, 'OK, we've got this, we're going to get this one,' and he made an unbelievable pass. I reaped all the rewards of it."

"Vas was feeling it the whole weekend," Bennett said. "It's one thing to be fast, but to make plays by being fast, I think that's one of the things that separates Vas from a lot of people. It was good to see him get rewarded for it."

St. Lawrence 2 1 1 — 4

Union 2 1 2 — 5

First period — 1, St. Lawrence, Gisewicz 3 (Lough, Pritchard), 9:11. 2, St. Lawrence, Laidley 1 (Marnell, Stevens), 11:04. 3, Union, Kolias 3 (Morgan, Scarfo), 15:34 (pp). 4, Union, Rinaldi 12 (Vidmar, Walker), 15:47. Penalties — Union bench (too many men on ice, served by Foo), 7:50; Woolf, SLU (tripping), 14:22; Gicewicz, SLU (elbowing), 19:12.

Second period — 5, Union, Maier 8 (Brassard, Kolias), 1:03 (pp). 6, St. Lawrence, Alftberg 3 (Cusinato, Nielsen), 3:18. Penalties — Pritchard, SLU (hooking), 4:52; Campolieto, Union (hitting from behind), 7:01; Stevens, SLU (holding), 8:27.

Third period — 7, Union, Estes 1 (Brassard, Maier), 5:12 (pp). 8, Union, Brown 3 (Foo), 6:59. 9, St. Lawrence, Marnell 6 (Pritchard). Penalties — Woolf, SLU (tripping), 4:08; Sullivan, SLU (holding), 4:28.

Shots on goal — St. Lawrence 7-14-7 — 28; Union 16-14-16 — 46.

Power play opportunities — St. Lawrence 1 of 2; Union 2 of 4.

Goalies — St. Lawrence, Brey 1-14-1 (46 shots-41 saves); Union, Kupsky 5-9-1 (28-24).

T — 2:25. A — 2,111. Referees — CJ Hanafin, Jeremy Lemoine. Linesmen — Philip Kitchen, Taylor Larsen.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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