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Many questions for Union men's hockey, but not in goal

Many questions for Union men's hockey, but not in goal

Hanson will carry a heavy load for a team that lost nine seniors; Union opens Oct. 5 at home against BU
Many questions for Union men's hockey, but not in goal
Goalie Darion Hanson will carry a heavy load for the Dutchmen in his junior season.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

SCHENECTADY -- A large senior class of nine graduated players leaves a large hole in the Union men's hockey team heading into the 2019-20 season.

One hole that will remain solidly plugged, anyway, is at the goalie position.

As the seniors have scattered to their post-undergraduate careers -- most of them in minor league pro hockey -- four returning players also got a small taste of the pro life this week, as part of the NHL's Prospect Development Camps.

Among them was Darion Hanson, who took a firm hold of the netminding duties over senior Jake Kupsky by the end of the 2018-19 season and will be relied upon even more heavily next season, when he'll be a junior.

He's not among the small number of Union players who have already been drafted by NHL teams, but Hanson participated in the Buffalo Sabres' camp. Another undrafted Dutchman, defenseman Brandon Estes, was invited by the Boston Bruins, while classmates Parker Foo (Chicago Blackhawks) and Jack Adams (Detroit Red Wings) went to camps held by the respective teams that drafted them.

Hanson will be the only goalie on the Union roster who isn't a first-year player, and head coach Rick Bennett believes he can carry an even heavier load in 2019-20 -- which opens Oct. 5 at Messa Rink against Boston University -- without letting the pressure and extra responsibility affect his play.

"He's got to realize that the weight of the world is not on his shoulders; he doesn't have to wear the [superhero] cape," Bennett said. "But he's a really smart guy, and a team guy, so I don't think that will be a problem."

In July, Union will announce what will be a large incoming class of first-year players.

In general, that class won't just be big in numbers, but also in physical stature -- none of the incoming recruits are under 6-feet -- with some speed added to the lineup, too. Bennett said the key question will be how quickly whatever skill they bring to the table will show itself.

It will also be interesting to see how team chemistry develops, he said, after a season in which the coaching staff perhaps relied too heavily on the senior class.

The Dutchmen had an up-and-down 20-13-6 season in which they swept Colgate in the first round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs before losing a best-of-3 in three games at Cornell in the quarterfinals.

"That [chemistry] is a big component to be a successful team, and I think it took us too long to find that," Bennett said. "I hate to say it, but we didn't get there until about February. I wish we had another 10 games. We had spurts of it, like in Belfast, but we never generated a ton of momentum, and that comes from the staff, and me.

"We'll try some different things next year, and they did a great job in the spring with that. Maybe we relied on that class too much. But we learned a ton this year, maybe moreso than any other year that I've been here, as far as team chemistry. We had a real big class, and they're seniors, and maybe we [coaches] deferred too much to it."

SCHEDULES ANNOUNCED

Union announced the 2019-20 schedules for both the men's and women's teams on Friday.

The men will open with a home game at Messa Rink against five-time national champion Boston University on Oct. 5. Other non-conference home games include two against Northeastern, and one against Merrimack.

The Dutchmen will open the ECACH season with a home-and-home series against RPI Oct. 25-26, and will play the Engineers again in the Mayor's Cup at the Times Union Center on Jan. 25 as a doubleheader with the women's teams.

The Union women will start on the road with two games at Robert Morris in late September, and the home opener is Oct. 4 against Northeastern.

They'll open ECACH play at home against Clarkson and St. Lawrence Nov. 1-2.

Home Games in CAPS

MEN

October


5 -- BOSTON UNIVERSITY, 4; 6 -- at Army, 4; 11 -- NORTHEASTERN, 7; 12 -- NORTHEASTERN, 7; 18 -- at Massachusetts, 7; 19 -- at Massachusetts, 7; 25 -- RPI, 7; 26 -- at RPI, 7.

November

1 -- at Canisius, TBA; 2 -- at Canisius, TBA; 8 -- CLARKSON, 7; 9 -- CLARKSON, 7; 15 -- at Quinnipiac, 7; 16 -- at Princeton, 7.

December

6 -- BROWN, 7; 7 -- YALE, 7; 13 -- MERRIMACK, 7; 28 -- TD Bank Catamount Cup at Vermont, TBA; 29 -- TD Bank Catamount Cup at Vermont, TBA.

January

3 -- at St. Lawrence, 7; 4 -- at Clarkson, 7; 10 -- COLGATE, 7; 11 -- CORNELL, 7; 17 --- at Yale, 7; 18 -- at Brown, 7; 25 -- vs. RPI at Mayor's Cup, 6; 31 -- HARVARD, 7.

February

1 -- DARTMOUTH, 7; 14 -- at Cornell, 7; 15 -- at Colgate, 7; 21 -- PRINCETON, 7; 22 -- QUINNIPIAC, 7; 28 -- at Dartmouth, 7; 29 -- at Harvard, 7. 

---

WOMEN

September


27 -- at Robert Morris, 7; 28 -- at Robert Morris, 3.

October

4 -- NORTHEASTERN, 6; 6 -- BOSTON UNIVERSITY, 1; 18 -- at Lindenwood, 7; 19 -- at Lindenwood, 2; 29 -- SYRACUSE, 6. 

November

1 -- CLARKSON, 6; 2 -- ST. LAWRENCE, 3; 8 -- at Yale, 6; 9 -- at Brown, 3; 15 -- PRINCETON, 6; 16 -- QUINNIPIAC, 3; 19 -- RIT, 6; 29 -- at Mercyhurst, 2; 30 -- at Mercyhurst, 2.

December

6 -- at St. Lawrence, 6; 7 -- at Clarkson, 3; 13 -- BEMIDJI STATE, 3; 14 -- BEMIDJI STATE, 2.

January

3 -- at Harvard, 6; 4 -- at Dartmouth, 3; 10 -- CORNELL, 3; COLGATE, 3; 17 -- BROWN, 6; 18 -- YALE, 3; 24 -- RPI, 6; 25 -- vs. RPI at Mayor's Cup, 3.

February

7 -- at Quinnipiac, 6. 8 -- at Princeton, 3; 14 -- DARTMOUTH, 6; 15 -- HARVARD, 3; 21 -- at Colgate, 6; 22 -- at Cornell, 3.

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

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