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Union back at it, against Brown and Yale

Union back at it, against Brown and Yale

Dutchmen return to ECACH action after trip to Northern Ireland and a weekend off
Union back at it, against Brown and Yale
Union's Brett Supinski stickhandles against Yale's Charli Curti in the Friendship Four on Nov. 23.
Photographer: WILLIAM CHERRY/PRESS EYE PHOTOGRAPHY

SCHENECTADY -- After a weekend off, the Union men's hockey team is looking forward to getting in a game again.

That said, they're trying not to look too far ahead. Like, one more day too far ahead.

The Dutchmen will get a quick rematch against Yale on the road on Saturday, after having beaten the Bulldogs in a shootout in the semifinals of the Friendship Four in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Nov. 23.

It's not unreasonable to expect that Yale will be primed to avenge that loss, but before the Dutchmen can address that, they'll face the Brown Bears in Providence, Rhode Island, on Friday, while the Bulldogs play host to RPI.

And the Bears have proven to be a pesky opponent for Union since Rick Bennett became the Dutchmen's head coach seven-plus seasons ago, so they should have Union's full attention despite a 1-4-2 record in ECAC Hockey and 1-6-2 overall.

"I hope we're not overlooking Brown, because I just watched Brown on film, and we showed our guys the last two days, and they looked pretty darn good at St. Lawrence," Bennett said Wednesday. "When you put up 44 shots against 22, and you watch the game ... they looked pretty good.

"As we said, we're yesterday's news. Yeah, we had a lot of publicity from the Ireland victory, but that was two weeks ago. We are so yesterday's news. And we've got to practice hard and get ready for Brown and be ready to go."

Union brings a 3-3-0 ECACH and 8-3-2 overall record into its final weekend of hockey before a break, with no games until Dec. 28-29.

The Dutchmen tied Yale 1-1 before winning a shootout, then beat Boston University 2-1 on Nov. 24 for the Friendship Four title.

Union is on exam/holiday break, so the Dutchmen have been concentrating solely on hockey.

"It's kind of nice getting back to the routine," senior center Brett Supinski said. "School's done, everything was done, so we can focus on practices and workouts, like it's the pros, which is what coach always says."

"That's [weekend off] not an excuse for us; we've got to move forward and focus on this week, because Brown doesn't care that we were in Ireland," sophomore wing Jack Adams said.

While the Dutchmen were off, both of their upcoming opponents were busy, Brown losing to Clarkson and tying St. Lawrence, and Yale (4-2-1, 5-2-2) beating those two to run its winning streak to three games.

Brown's only victory came against Dartmouth, 4-2, on Nov. 9, and the Bears are coming off a 2-2 tie at St. Lawrence in which Brown outshot the Saints 43-18 in regulation and 44-22 through overtime despite just one power play to five for SLU.

The Dutchmen are expecting fast-paced games against both the Bears and Bulldogs.

"Every year we play Brown, they play us hard," Supinski said. "We always have tight games against them, so we're preparing for what they do best, which is transition to offense."

"They're [Yale] simple, smart ... move pucks quick," sophomore defenseman Vas Kolias said. "They're physical. So Yale will be a lot of fun on Saturday, and Brown, I don't think their record quite indicates how good they are.

"They've outshot most teams that they've played. They're going to get pucks on the net, they're a fast-paced team, they're young. They're going to be filled with energy."

"Their memory is probably pretty short," Adams said of Yale.

'ROO' ADAMS NIGHT

The break allowed Adams to attend Providence College's home game against New Hampshire with his family last Friday night, which was designated as a tribute to his brother, Mark "Roo" Adams Jr., who died at the age of 27 weeks before this season.

Mark Adams was a member of the Friars' 2015 national championship team, coached by former Union head coach Nate Leaman.

"It was hard, but it was also really good," Jack Adams said. "They're a first-class university, and coach Leaman, athletic director Bob Driscoll and [associate AD] Kyle Murphy were outstanding to our family, so that's something I'll never forget.

"It was emotional, obviously, but it was a really good experience, too, to continue to build his legacy and make sure everyone knows how good of a guy and how good of a family guy he was."

SCOUTING REPORT

Talk about preparation.

Sophomore goalie Darion Hanson was in position to drop some Northern Ireland knowledge on his teammates for the trip to Belfast.

A history minor, he took a History of Ireland course back in the spring as a freshman, and had some built-in understanding of some of the landmarks they visited.

"Then to go see everything in Ireland first-hand was really cool," he said. "The politics of the country are complicated, as most people know, and I just find that so fascinating.

"Then there was the culture of the country, the architecture of the buildings and how friendly the people were, so it's hard to pick just one thing."

YOUNG CONVERTS

Because the Dutchmen played the afternoon game in the Friendship Four semifinals, the SSE Arena stands were filled with groups of young schoolchildren, whose ear-piercing screams of enthusiasm could easily be heard over the livestream.

It was, of course, much louder inside the arena.

"I'll tell you what, I couldn't hear much, with how loud those little kids were," Kolias said. "Yeah, they got their 10 cents and a little bit more."

He said some of the kids told him before the game that they would be rooting -- arbitrarily -- for Boston University throughout the tournament.

But that was OK with Kolias.

"It was cool to have that type of passion and involvement when it wasn't necessarily something that they needed to be involved in, especially since we're from the States, which is so far away, and all of them are not necessarily overly involved in hockey.

"It hurt my heart a little to see they're rooting for Boston University, but glad to see they're rooting for someone."

GUIDED TOUR

Bennett toured some of the Belfast neighborhoods with a former player now living in the city that Bennett knew when he was an assistant coach at Providence.

"I was able to go around with him and look at everything on another scale, which is pretty incredible, the murals and how the Catholic community is gated off and closes at 12," Bennett said. "It's still fresh, and I don't know if it ever changes, but it's a long way from where it was before."

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

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