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Supinski line finds its groove for Union

Supinski line finds its groove for Union

Rinaldi, Morgan score two goals each as Dutchmen hold off Omaha 5-4 at Messa Rink
Supinski line finds its groove for Union
Union's Liam Morgan blasts a shot past Omaha's Jalen Schulz for the second of his two goals in a 5-4 Union win at Messa Rink.

SCHENECTADY -- Brett Supinski used some slick stick-handling to keep the puck clean through three Omaha defenders in the right faceoff circle, then found Anthony Rinaldi unguarded on the left post.

Nine minutes later, Supinski was harassed in traffic in the slot, but found Rinaldi unguarded on the left post.

Rinaldi missed an empty net -- and a potential hat trick -- in the closing seconds of the game, but made no mistake on the two gifts he got from Supinski. His two goals in the second period helped Union to a 4-2 lead on the way to a penalty-filled 5-4 victory at Messa Rink.

It was a welcome sight to Union head coach Rick Bennett and his team, to see one of their top lines so productive after failing to get a single point in a 3-3 tie Friday night.

Sophomore Liam Morgan also had two goals for the Dutchmen, who improved to 2-0-1, while Omaha fell to 0-1-1.

"Our best players were our best players tonight, and any time that happens, it gives you a very good chance to win the hockey game," Bennett said. "I think what you guys put in the paper [Friday] ... but I said it, too. Let's just say we use media to motivate. But it's not going to be all the time."

Supinski missed the opening-night victory over Army due to injury. On Friday night, the Ryan Walker-Cole Maier-Morgan line was instrumental on all three Union goals, but the Supinski-Rinaldi-Sebastian Vidmar line asserted itself with authority Saturday.

Vidmar scored the first goal of the game, at 6:57 of the first period, then Rinaldi bookended his goals around Morgan's first of two as the Dutchmen outscored the Mavericks 3-0 in the second period for a 4-2 lead.

"We know last night wasn't one of our best games, and we watched some film," Supinski said. "We just wanted to get back to our game. Our line was much better tonight.

"Sometimes the puck just doesn't bounce your way, and I think that happened a little bit Friday night. We watched film, and we were maybe being a little too fancy trying to make plays."

His line wasn't flawless, of course. Vidmar was in the penalty box twice for what turned into 5-on-3 Omaha advantages that led to Mavericks goals.

And Rinaldi had a prime opportunity for his third goal of the game in the final minute, but his shot from center ice toward an empty net -- with Omaha goalie Evan Weninger on the bench for an extra skater -- missed left by a foot.

It didn't take long after the game for him to hear about that from his teammates.

"I already have," he said with a grin, about 20 minutes after the game. "I should've taken my time and had a little more patience. I wasn't sure if I was going to have a little more pressure."

With all the penalties, each team had seven power plays, and Union scored on three of those straight, after starting the young season 0-for-11 with the man advantage.

Bennett said the Dutchmen will need to learn how to adjust how they play from one officiating crew to another on consecutive nights.

"I was waiting for the ref question," Bennett said. "This was a really good teaching moment. Every night, you get different refs, and you have to adjust. I think we had Chris Sale come in last night, and a knuckleballer came in tonight. But those were good calls. Those were legit."

The weekend result was a departure from last year's two-game series between these teams in Nebraska, where Omaha outscored Union 10-4 for a pair of victories.

For one thing, the Dutchmen came back from a deficit both nights this time in what were a pair of entertaining games.

"There was a sense of urgency," Bennett said. "We were really plugged in today. The bench was much better [than it was Friday]. It wasn't quiet. There was just a feeling on that bench that these guys were not going to lose that game."

"It's a disappointing loss," Omaha head coach Mike Gabinet said. "I thought we beat ourselves by taking penalties and not managing the puck in the neutral zone. We don't have any superstars, we need to play as a team, and we had some individual plays that cost us.

"This is just the second game for some of these guys, but it's so intense. Their coach was talking about playoff hockey already, and that's the intensity level out there. We need to learn that."

Omaha 2 0 2 -- 4

Union 1 3 1 -- 5

First period -- 1, Union, Vidmar 1 (Rinaldi, Campbell), 6:57. 2, Omaha, Jordan 1 (Olofsson, Keck), 10:44. 3, Omaha, Conley 1 (Buchta, Ward), 17:10 (pp). Penalties -- Jordan, O (cross-checking), 7:46; Vidmar, U (high sticking), 15:25; Campbell, U (slashing), 15:56; Hayward, U (boarding), 18:22.

Second period -- 4, Union, Rinaldi 1 (Supinski, Vidmar), 3:30. 5, Union, Morgan 2 (Maier), 9:14 (pp). 6, Union, Rinaldi 2 (Supinski, Walker), 12:35 (pp). Penalties -- Schuldt, O (slashing), 1:24; Knoepke, O (hooking), 7:45; Alferd, O (slashing), 11:18; Rinaldi, U (interference), 13:27.

Third period -- 7, Omaha, Pulkkinen 1 (Olofsson, Jones), :38 (pp). 8, Union, Morgan 3 (Morton, Maier), 6:38 (pp). Penalties -- Supinski, U (cross-checking), :23; Ward, O (slashing), 5:00; Hayward, U (tripping), 9:37; Vidmar, U (tripping), 10:48.

Shots on goal -- Omaha 13-6-9 -- 28. Union 9-16-6 -- 31.

Power-play opportunities -- Omaha 3 of 7. Union 3 of 5.

Goaltenders -- Omaha, Weninger 0-2-1 (31 shots-26 saves). Union, Kupsky 2-0-1 (28-24).

T -- 2:25. A -- 2,128.

Referees -- Robert St. Lawrence, Douglas Place Jr. Linesmen -- Dmitry Antipin, Pavel Kozhokin.

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

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