The road to the 2014 NCAA hockey championship was a fun one for Union. It capped a 23-year journey that saw the program struggle early on after elevating to Division I from Division III in 1991.
Getting to Philadelphia for the Frozen Four had some smooth paving. The Dutchmen had a 10-game unbeaten streak from Nov. 9 to Dec. 14, and closed the season with a 17-game unbeaten streak.
Before that, there were bumps along the way. The Dutchmen got off to a slow start, going 1-2-2 in their first five games. There was also the Mayor’s Cup postgame brawl with RPI.
There were many memorable games from that season. Here are 10 that stood out.
NOV. 9, 2013: COLGATE 5, UNION 3
Union jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period, thanks to a pair of Daniel Carr goals. The Dutchmen were firmly in control.
But the game’s momentum shifted when Colgate’s Darcy Murphy baited Shayne Gostisbehere into a retaliatory roughing penalty midway through the first. While the Raiders didn’t score on the ensuing power play, they had gotten into the Dutchmen’s head. They would rally for the win.
Afterward, when asked about Gostisbehere’s play, an angry Union head coach Rick Bennett said that “our assistant captain took a bad penalty.”
The Dutchmen responded the next night by rolling to a 3-0 win over Cornell. Gostisbehere scored a goal, and Union took just one penalty. The Dutchmen held the Big Red to 11 shots on goal. That started a 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1) for Union.
DEC. 1, 2013: UNION 5, PENN STATE 4
The Dutchmen were in trouble in State College, Pennsylvania. A David Glen shorthanded goal with 8:17 left in the second period gave Penn State a 4-1 lead. Bennett pulled goalie Colin Stevens and inserted Alex Sakellaropoulos.
The change in goal awakened the Dutchmen. Gostsibehere scored a pair of power-play goals to pull the Dutchmen within one by the end of the second period. Matt Hatch tied the score midway through the third period. Then, when it appeared that the game was heading for overtime, Daniel Ciampini carried the puck down the left wing. Just after he entered the Penn State zone, he moved the puck between the legs of Penn State defenseman David Thompson, skated past him, and then got goalie Eamon McAdam to make the first move and before sending a backhander into the open net to give Union the win with three seconds left.
DEC. 11, 2013: UNION 3, DARTMOUTH 2
DEC. 13, 2013: UNION 4, ST. CLOUD STATE 1
DEC. 14, 2014: UNION 3, ST. CLOUD STATE 3
This stretch of three games in four days was more like a pro schedule than a college one. After the Dutchmen beat the Big Green in a rare Wednesday night game, they headed to Albany International Airport early the next morning to travel to St. Cloud, Minnesota, to face the Huskies, who were the top-ranked team in the country at the time. In the opener, the freshman Sakellaropoulos was the surprise starter in goal. He was spectacular, making 34 saves. The Dutchmen got first-period goals from Max Novak and Eli Lichtenwald, and third-period tallies by Mat Bodie and Nick Cruice to win.
The next night, regular starter Colin Stevens was back in goal, and he played well in stopping 35 shots. The Huskies rallied in the third period to get the tie.
JAN. 25, 2014: RPI 2, UNION 1
The Mayor’s Cup Brawl game. It ignited at the end of the game when Union defenseman Mat Bodie cross-checked Brock Higgs in the head. RPI players saw this as they were coming out to celebrate around goalie Scott Diebold. Fights broke out all over the ice, the most memorable of which saw Bennett go after RPI coach Seth Appert. A total of 125 penalty minutes were handed out for the brawl alone, and it garnered national headlines. Bennett got a four-game suspension (two from Union and two from the league). Bodie was suspended for two games, while Ciampini and Eli Lichtenwald served one-game suspensions.
FEB. 1, 2014: UNION 4, CLARKSON 3
Ciampini scored in his return from suspension, but the Dutchmen trailed 3-2 early in the third period against the Golden Knights at Cheel Arena. A loss would have been their third straight (they lost 2-1 the previous night at St. Lawrence).
But Novak’s second goal of the game midway through the third tied it. Then, with 7:26 left in the period, Matt Wilkins scored the game-winner. The victory started the Dutchmen on a 17-game unbeaten streak that would culminate with the NCAA title.
MARCH 28, 2014: UNION 5, VERMONT 2
MARCH 29, 2014: UNION 3, PROVIDENCE 1
Union beat these teams in the East Regionals in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to earn its second trip to the Frozen Four. But more significant was the coaches the Dutchmen beat. Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon was with the Union program from 1993-2003; he was an assistant coach from 1993-98, and then was head coach from 1998-2003 before moving to Vermont. He was replaced by Nate Leaman, who guided the Dutchmen through the 2010-11 season before he left for the Providence head coaching position.
APRIL 12, 2014: UNION 7, MINNESOTA 4
The dream came true for the Dutchmen at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Sparked by an amazing three goals in a 1:54 stretch late in the first period, Union took a 4-2 lead against top-ranked Minnesota. The Gophers cut it to one early in the second period. Novak regained the two-goal cushion 5:31 into the third. Hudson Fasching’s power-play goal late in the third made it 5-4.
A little later, Taylor Cammarata got past Bodie and at the Union blueline and had a potential 2-on-1 opportunity. But Gostisbehere sprawled out and got his stick on the puck to knock it away from Cammarata. Bodie picked up the puck and got it to Kevin Sullivan, who cut to the left circle in the Minnesota zone and fired a shot between goalie Adam Wilcox with 1:22 left to make it 6-4. Bodie added an empty-net goal, and the celebration was on.