Thursday, December 31, 2009

Milnamow named to ECHL All-Star team

Just a few days after former classmate Lane Caffaro scored his first professional goal, Brendan Milnamow '09 was named to the ECHL All-Star team in his first professional season. He has spent this season with the Idaho Steelheads where has tallied two goals and 12 assists in 31 games along with 20 penalty minutes. The Steelheads are currently the second best team in the ECHL. You can read about Milnamow and his all-star selection on ECACHockey.com.

Milan blanks UConn in Leaman's 100th win

As expected the Dutchmen spanked the Huskies 7-0. It was an all around effort with six different players scoring goals and 13 of the 18 skaters registering a point. It's nice to see Adam Presizniuk tally two goals, and hopefully this could be the game to get him out of his long scoring slump. It's also great to see Corey Milan get the shutout even though he was relatively untested. Also note that Union went 3-for-7 on the power-play, and captain Mike Wakita scored his first goal of the season. And a special congratulations to Coach Nate Leaman on his 100th career win. He has done a great job with this program with the small amount of resources he has and deserves a ton of credit. You can read summaries about the game on USCHO.com, UnionAthletics.com, and UConnHuskies.com.

The Dutchmen now turn their calenders to 2010 as they closed out 2009 with a 9-4-5 record and an undefeated record in ECAC play. Their first test of 2010 will be on Saturday against Army at West Point. I will be there sitting in Section 11, Row A just like I've been doing since I was five years old, but this time I'll be rooting for the visiting team.

In other ECAC news Princeton topped Cornell 3-2 in the consolation game of the Flordia College Classic, and RPI was demolished by Michigan State 6-1 in the championship game of the Great Lakes Invitational.

I hope everybody has a happy and a healthy New Year! Be sure to watch the NHL Winter Classic on New Years Day!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#15 UMass ends #18 Union's nine game unbeaten streak

Down 3-1 heading into the third period the Minutemen were able to score three goals to snatch victory away from the Dutchmen by the score of 4-3. Going into the game UMass was known for their third period play and proved it once again. They have now outscored their opponents 25-10 in the third period, and are 3-1 against ECAC opponents this season. This is an incredibly disappointing loss for Union considering they blew a two goal lead in the third period, and had a chance to prove to the nation that they can beat a Top 20 team. As noted in my game preview in order to stop UMass you needed to stop the nation's leading scorer James Marcou and Casey Wellman. The Dutchmen were unable to do this as Marcou registered three assists (including both of Wellman's goals), and Wellman tallied two goals (including the game-winner) and an assist. You can read recaps of the game on UnionAthletics.com and UMassAthletics.com. You can also read clips about the game on USCHO.com and TimesUnion.com.

After dropping this game the Dutchmen will play in the consolation game on Wednesday against host UConn (2-13-2) at 4pm. The Huskies dropped their opening game to Bentley 4-1. The Huskies are one of the worst teams in Division 1 College Hockey as they only have two wins, both of which game against AIC at their home rink early in the season. They haven't won since their last game against AIC on November 7th and are riding a nine game win-less streak. The Dutchmen should easily take care of the Huskies even though they only beat AIC by one goal and lost to Sacred Heart, another Atlantic Hockey team, in overtime. UConn's offense is led by freshman Sean Ambrosie (4g,5a) and junior Andrew Olson (6g,2a) who has four of his goals on the power-play. It will be interesting to see who Coach Leaman starts in goal against UConn considering the importance of the game. He could start Keith Kinkaid because you don't want to lose to a weak team since it would hurt you in the pair-wise rankings, or he could start Corey Milan or Rich 'Pudge' Sillery to give them some work. And once again I personally feel that Leaman should start 'Pudge' since he is a senior and deserves one start in his final collegiate season. If Sillery get the start and lets in a few early goals Leaman could always pull him just like he did against Army last season.

In other ECAC news Princeton came back to tie Maine 6-6, Harvard topped #8 Quinnipiac in a league game, #4 Cornell lost to #3 Colorado College 4-2, and RPI beat Michigan 4-3 in the opening game of the Great Lakes Invitational. Quinnipiac has fallen of late as after winning 12 of their first 13 games they have gone 1-3-1 with their only win coming against AIC.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Caffaro scores first AHL goal

Former Union star defenseman Lane Caffaro '09 scored his first career AHL goal last night for the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins in their 4-3 victory over the Adirondack Phantoms. He scored the first goal of the game and then assisted on a goal later in the game. In 13 games this year Caffaro has registered one goal and three assists and currently has a +3 rating and 14 penalty minutes.
You can read the game recap on WBSPenguins.com.

Dutchmen open up UConn Toyota Classic against #15 Massachusetts

The last time the Dutchmen touched the ice was on December 11th when they beat the U.S. U-18 team 4-1 at Messa Rink in an exhibition match. Now 18 days later they head to Storrs, Connecticut to try and extend their nine game unbeaten streak in the UConn Toyota Classic. In order to extend the streak to 10 they have to face a very tough team in the #15 UMass-Amherst Minutemen (10-5-0, 6-4-0 Hockey East (4th Place)) on Tuesday. Depending on the outcome of the game they will play either host UConn or Bentley.

Here are some things to note heading into the game with the Minutemen:

  • Union holds the second longest unbeaten streak in the nation (9)
  • This is the first game the Dutchmen will face a ranked opponent since becoming ranked
  • Coach Nate Leaman's next win will be his 100th
  • Mario Valery-Trabucco leads Union's offensive attack with 10 goals and 11 assists. The Dutchmen are 5-1-2 when he scores a goal this season.
  • Union goaltender Keith Kinkaid is 5-0-2 in his last seven games with a 2.08 GAA and a .921 save percentage. He faced RPI in his last start where he let up four goals. This was his weakest outing during his streak, which might have been due to fatigue. He should have plenty of rest heading into the tournament.
  • The only Hockey East opponent the Dutchmen have faced this year is Maine. They faced the Black Bears in the opening weekend of the season where they took both games 4-1 and 6-3. Maine has improved since opening weekend and now sit in third place in Hockey East.
  • UMass hold the advantage in the series with a 5-2-1 record against the Dutchmen. In their last meeting (11/25/07) the Minutemen won 5-2.
  • UMass is a tremendous third period team as they have outscored their opponents 22-10 in the final frame.
  • The Minutemen last played on December 12th where they beat Hockey East foe Merrimack 4-1 at the Mullins Center.
  • UMass is 3-3-0 against ranked opponents this year with their wins coming against #2 Boston University (3-2, 10/16), #9 Yale (4-3(ot), 11/19), and #18 Vermont (6-2, 11/24). After winning their first three games against ranked opponents they lost the next three to #9 Quinnipiac (5-4 (ot), 11/28), #15 Boston College (3-1, 12/4), and #8 UMass-Lowell (5-3, 12/5).
  • The Minutemen hold a 2-1 record over ECAC opponents this year with a 5-2 win over RPI (10/8), a 4-3 (0t) win over Yale (11/19), and a 5-4 (ot) loss against Quinnipiac.
  • Junior James Marcou is one of the top forwards in the nation and leads the UMass offense. In 90 career games he has registered 105 points including his 32 assists last season which was a UMass single-season record. Last season as a sophomore Marcou was named a second team All-American. Marcou has kept up the pace this season as he leads the nation with 1.73 points per game and is a legitimate contender for the Hobey Baker award. His 26 points (5g, 21a in 15 games) is third most in the nation. He is only one point behind the nation's top scorers Cory Conacher (Canisus, 18 games) and Corey Tropp (Michigan State, 20 games). His 21 assists and 1.40 assists per game is tops in the country. Look for Marcou's speed and vision on the ice to standout.
  • With Marcou setting up all these goals someone has to be the beneficiary. And the person reaping the benefits of Marcou's play is sophomore Casey Wellman. Wellman leads the Minutemen with 13 goals, seven power-play goals, and is second on the team with 22 points (13g, 9a). Of his 13 goals Marcou has assisted on 11 of them including all seven of his power-play goals. Wellman is tied for fourth in the nation in goals and power-play goals, sixth in points per game (1.47), and is 15th in points.
  • Defenseman Justin Braun is also an offensive threat for UMass from the blueline. Braun, a 2008-09 Hockey East All-Conference selection and a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins last year, is 13th in the nation in scoring with 13 points (3g, 10a).
  • On the Minutemen power-play look out for defenseman Matthew Irwin who has scored four goals on the man advantage.
  • In goal for the Minutemen is junior Paul Danton, who took over the starting job as a freshman when All-American Jon Quick graduated and went to the NHL where he is having a stellar season for the Los Angeles Kings. In 13 games (11 starts) Danton is 8-5 with a 2.61 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

The game will take place at 4pm at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. For more information on the Dutchmen and Minutemen check out UnionAthletics.com and UMassAthletics.com. You can also read the tournamnet preview on USCHO.com.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Daniel Carr Update

Union recruit Daniel Carr has been getting some print recently as he was a unanimous selection to the AJHL All-Star team, and then was traded to Powell River of the BCHL shortly after. He will join Mat Bodie, another Dutchman recruit, in Powell River. In 30 games in the AJHL this year Carr registered 24 goals and 30 assists, which was good for sixth in the league.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Who is the "Other" MVP?

For those of you who selected "Other" as their team MVP selection please leave a comment here to say who it is. I'm just curious.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

RPI's D'Amigo makes US Junior Team

It was announced today that RPI freshman forward Jerry D'Amigo will represent the United States in the World Junior Hockey Championships this year. D'Amigo, who is from Binghamton, New York, is third on the Engineers points list with five goals and nine assists this season. Even though Jerry is on RPI, I still congratulate him on representing our and country and receiving a great honor.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cool Rankings Website

While surfing the net today I came across this website called sportheroy.com where they have a way to rank all of Division I Hockey based on strength of schedule, offense, defense, etc. In this poll Union is ranked #22. If you click on Union it brings up a chart which shows Union's strength of schedule and how they did compared to how good their opponent was. It may not be totally accurate but it's a cool thing just to check out.

INCH ECAC Midseason Report

In this report it is questioned if Union can make a run to the ECAC Championship, and Mike Schreiber is named all-ECAC for the first half.
http://insidecollegehockey.com/inch/category/ecachockey/

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holidays!

With a break in Union Hockey action for the holidays I would like to wish everyone (even RPI fans) a happy and healthy holiday season. Hopefully all of the Dutchmen enjoy their well deserved breaks, and then pick up where they left off going into the second half of the season.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mario named ECAC Player of the Week for the second week in a row

Valery-Trabucco was the reason why the Dutchmen were able to come back against RPI last Wednesday. After scoring the first goal of the game, Mario and the Dutchmen were down 3-1 in the third period before Mario ripped two lasers over Allen York's shoulder in a matter of two minutes to tie the game. The Dutchmen went on to win the game 5-4. On Friday Mario registered a goal and an assist against the U.S. U-18 team.

The last time a student-athlete was named ECAC Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks was Clarkson's Shea Guthrie last January.

Mario currently leads the team with 10 goals, 11 assists, and 21 points.

Dutchmen move up in rankings

In the polls that came out today the Dutchmen moved up two spots in each the USCHO.com and Inside College Hockey poll. In the USCHO.com poll Union moved from #20 to #18 while they went from #18 to #16 in the INCH poll. In the USCHO.com poll they jumped over St. Cloud State and Notre Dame, and in the INCH poll they passed St. Cloud and Alaska.

This past week the Dutchmen had a thrilling 5-4 victory over rival RPI and then out muscled the U.S. U-18 team for a 4-1 victory. They will be off until December 29th when they will face #15(USCHO)/#13(INCH) UMass in the UConn Tournament.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Union first ECAC team to beat US U-18 Team

Behind a strong third period the Dutchmen were able to top the US U-18 team and become the first ECAC team to beat them... and that's basically it. This was an exhibition game, so anything that comes out of this doesn't really matter too much. But, I guess a win is better than a loss and it's nice to keep the ball rolling. It sounds like Mario was dominant again as he sniped another goal, but of course it doesn't count to his season totals. It was nice to see the Dutchmen play a strong third period, and to see Corey Milan get a start and make some saves. Personally, I would have like to seen Rich 'Pudge' Sillery play because I'm not sure if he will get a start this season, which is his final season. He has put in his time over the past four years and he deserves a chance to make his final stand. On the other hand it's great to see Jean-Sebastian Bergeron on the ice for the first time as a Dutchman. He finished +1 on the game. Justin Pallos, Nolan Julseth-White, and Luke Cain (1 goal, 1 assist) also saw some time tonight.

The team will now finally be able to enjoy their well deserved winter break and will not have another game for over two weeks. Their next game is on December 29th when they take on #15 UMass at the UConn Tournament. It's too bad that the break is coming at a time when the team is playing so well. Hopefully when they come back they can keep up the level of play that they're playing now. For a summary on tonight's game click here.

In other ECAC news, UMass-Lowell topped Princeton 4-1 and RPI came back in the third period to defeat defending national champion Boston University 5-3 in Boston . I guess all of their talk about not being affected by their loss to Union was true. It looks like it was an interesting game as RPI took a 2-1 lead after the first period while being out shot 16-5. Also, RPI did not allow any five-on-five goals as BU scored one power-play goal and two shorthanded goals. BU is definitely not as good as they were last year but they are the national champions until someone takes their title. You can read the RPI-BU game summary here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Union takes on U.S. Under-18 team on Friday in charity exhibition game

This game is an exhibition game meaning it will not count towards the standings and will have no effect on the team's unbeaten streak or on Coach Leaman's 100th win. It should be a friendly match for a good cause (Toys for Tots). For more information on the even click here.

According to the team roster there is only one player committed to a ECAC school. This is Andy Iles a goaltender from Ithaca, New York who is committed to his home town team, Cornell. He is listed as 5' 8" so I'm guessing he relies on his quickness. All of the other players on the roster are committed to nine different schools: Cornell, Michigan, Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Boston College, and Denver. This should be a great showcase for future NCAA stars. For more info on the US U-18 Team check out their website here.

Hopefully Coach Leaman will play some guys who haven't played much or at all this season, and I expect that he will. We have still yet to see freshmen defenseman Jean-Sebastian Bergeron and redshirt freshman defenseman Carl Ekstrom in Dutchmen uniforms. I have still heard no word if Ekstrom has overcome his hip injury. It should be interesting to see what this Swede is made of. We also haven't seen sophomore defenseman Taylor Reid this season after he played four games last season.

I assume Keith Kinkaid will sit while junior Corey Milan and senior Rich Sillery will get some time in net. Sillery hasn't seen any playing time this season and only played twice (one start) last season. This should also give Leaman a chance to rest his stars before the UConn Tournament and feature players that haven't seen much ice this year like forwards Justin Pallos, Luke Cain, Jason Shaffer, and defenseman Nolan Julseth-White. These are all very effective players and I expect them to be impressive against the U-18 team. Personally, I am a huge fan of Jason Shaffer as he is one of the fastest guys on the team and flies all over the ice when he plays. All in all, this should be a fun game for a good cause.

Seniors lead Union over RPI in epic come from behind victory

Another Union-RPI game, another incredible and exciting game. I am so glad that I saw this in person! It was definitely worth the 2+ hour drive each way to see it. To be honest I was not confident heading into the game. If felt that this was the definition of a trap game for Union considering they were flying high off over their hot weekend and national ranking. It would be easy enough to overlook a struggling RPI team in a week night game during winter break. I was still on pins and needles throughout the entire game until the final horn blew, and I was so relieved to be proven wrong.

Union went up 1-0 about six minutes into the game when 'Super' Mario Valery-Trabucco scored a power-play on a five-on-three advantage, but RPI struck back with their own power-play goal a little less than three minutes later. From the time between Mario's first and second goals, the Dutchmen played absolutely awful. It was probably the worst 40 minutes of hockey Union has played all season.

Going into the third period the Engineers were up 2-1 and then extended their lead two minutes into the period on a soft goal by RPI's top scorer and the ECAC's top scorer Chase Polacek. At this point I looked over to my Dad and told him that the game was over. Down by two goals on the road and playing terribly I felt that the game was lost and it would take something "super" to get the Dutchmen back into the game. Then two minutes after Polacek's goal "super" struck twice within 1:56 in the form of 'Super' Mario as he scored two goals from the same spot. Each time he streaked down the right boards and fired a laser form the right face-off circle over the shoulder of RPI goaltender Allen York into the upper left corner of the net. This was the first time since Oliver Bouchard in February 2006 that a Dutchmen player scored a hat trick.

After the second goal my confidence rose, but not completely as the Dutchmen have been prone to taking a penalty late in the game that ends up costing them the game, just as it did when Stephane Boileau took a late penalty late in the first meeting in RPI that set up the game-tying goal. So guess what happened? Yep, Jon Lareau took a penalty with about eight minutes left, where Chase Polacek took advantage and put his team up by one with another soft goal let up by Keith Kinkaid.

This lowered my confidence, but when RPI Head Coach Seth Appert called a timeout in his defensive zone to rest his players for the final few minutes I saw this as an opening for the Dutchmen. I was actually somewhat contemplating whether or not Coach Leaman should call a timeout to rest his players and create a game plan for the final push. But Appert's surprise timeout allowed Leaman to rest his top line (Wally, Mario, and Prez) and put them on the ice for that face-off instead of the Simpsons and Andrew Buote. I personally thought this was the turning point of the game as from this point on the Dutchmen completely dominated the Engineers.

With Kinkaid pulled in favor of an extra attacker Jason Walters was able to tie the game up when he scored on a shot off of a rebound with 51 seconds left. I jumped up and down screaming after the goal, but I was honestly still unconvinced. Even after Mike Schreiber's go-ahead blast with 19 seconds left I was still unsure about victory, especially when with six seconds left Walters was called for tripping. Watch Union's two goals in the last minute here.

Now, this brings me back to my turning point as this would have been a perfect time for Appert to use his timeout. I understand that hindsight is always 20-20 but the reason why you save your timeouts in a close game is for events like this. So, with York pulled and a face-off in the Dutchmen zone the Engineers did not have the opportunity to use their timeout to create a play. Even after realizing this I was still holding my breath. But once the final horn sounded I was able to breathe again after witnessing one of the most exciting hockey games I have ever seen. In recent memory I'd rank it second behind last year's national championship game where BU came back to tie Miami in the final moments and then eventually won the championship in overtime. It was such a great feeling watching all of the RPI fans walk out of the Houston Field House with their heads down!

Points to take away from the game:



  • Union is still hot! The team is riding a nine game unbeaten streak and is still the only team in the ECAC without a league loss. They are now tied with Colgate with 11 points, but the Dutchmen beat the Raiders in their only meeting this season.

  • RPI is falling and falling fast. This is the Engineers fourth straight loss and sixth out of their last seven. This is a loss that is hard for a team to recover from. They had a one-goal lead three times throughout the game, but were unable to hold it and couldn't even get to overtime. Things won't get easier for RPI as they playing defending national champion Boston University on friday in Boston, then they head to the Great Lakes Invitational where they will play Michigan and then either Michigan State or Michigan Tech. After the tournament they head back east to resume ECAC play with first-place Quinnipiac and then take on Princeton. Then it's back to Schenectady for their fourth meeting with the Dutchmen this year. This game could be the end of the season for RPI.

  • 'Super' Mario is super. Mario single handely brought the Dutchmen back to life with his two rockets early in the third period. The senior is leaving his mark on his final season as he's been on the score sheet all season. He is first on the team with 21 points, 10 goals, and is tied for first with 11 assists. He has scored at least one goal in six of his last seven games played, and has registered a point in nine of his last 11 games. This also includes the game where he scored the game-winning goal in the shootout against Lake Superior State, which doesn't count as an official goal. Mario was also last week's ECAC Hockey Player of the Week, and with his performance tonight he might be able to repeat.

  • Keith Kinkaid did not play well. This was the first time I've seen Kinkiad during his unbeaten streak, and he was not impressive. Kinkiad, last week's ECAC Rookie of the Week did play well positionally, but he seemed a little slow laterally. Each of Chase Polacek's goals seemed to be soft. In two games against RPI at the Houston Field House Kinkaid has let up four goals each time. The question now is if Corey Milan will get a chance to play again since Kinkaid had a weak game.

  • Allen York is not a good goaltender. I have never been impressed by York and I personally rank him as one of the worst goalies in the ECAC. It's been noticeable lately that he is pretty decent down low, but if you shoot up high he can easily be beaten. Mario and Schreiber each noticed that for sure. There has been some injury concern with York, but if he is going to play like the way he played tonight Coach Appert should look into giving someone else a start.

  • Union has owned RPI lately. The Dutchmen are 5-1-1 (the tie came in the 2008 Governor's Cup where Union won in a shootout) in their past seven games against the Engineers, and are 6-0-1 in their past seven games in Troy. But, this year's games have all been one goal games, and two of them have gone to overtime.

  • Presizniuk and Yanovitch are still on scoring droughts. Even though Prez registered three assists tonight he still hasn't been as noticible on the ice as he was last year. Maybe teams are paying closer attention this year or maybe he has just fallen into a junior jinx. Prez, last year's leading scorer, has tallied an assist in five of his last eight games but hasn't scored since October 24th against Sacred Heart. This could be the product of Mario and Wally doing all of the scoring, or just a lapse in his game. Yanovitch got off to a hot start as he scored a goal in the first three weekends of the season, but has only scored one since. Yano has also gone pointless in his last five games. Late in tonight's game Yano did not come onto the ice when the Simpson brothers did as he was sat in favor of Jeremy Welsh or Andrew Buote. Personally, I feel that these droughts are the product of Coach Leaman's lineup shift earlier in the season. Before the change each Prez and Yano were off to good starts, but after the change to new lines they cooled off. So, Leaman changed them back (Prez with Wally and Mario, and Yano with the Simpsons) hoping they would revert to their early season form, but as of now this has not happened. It looks like they have been unable to form chemistry with their linemates this season.

  • Coach Leaman is one win away from 100 career wins. Tonight's victory over RPI was Leaman's 99th of his career. I don't think a victory over the U.S. Under-18 team would count as number 100 since it is an exhibition game, so Leaman's next chance will be in the UConn Tournament against nationally ranked UMass.

The Dutchmen will take on the U.S. Under-18 team on Friday in an exhibition game at Messa Rink. This game will be a part of "Shots for Tots" hosted by Union and the U.S. Marine Corps. To read more about this event click here.


To read more about the game read Ken Schott's thoughts on the game here. You can also take a look at the box score here. Game recaps can be read on RPIAthleics.com and UnionAthletics.com. Watch the post - game interviews here courtesy of Ken Schott. There is plenty of literature about the game. Read articles by Mark McGuire of the Times Union here, Tim Wilkin of the Times Union here, and Ed Weaver of The Record here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dutchmen reel in another recruit from Berkshire Prep

According to Chris Heisenberg, Trevor Mingoia has committed to play at Union starting in the 2011-2012 season. He is a 5'10" 160 pound forward from Berkshire Prep. Mingoia is the teammate of another Union recruit, Kevin Sullivan. I have not heard or found anything about Mingoia, so if you know anything please comment.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dutchmen to face Engineers for third time this season on Wednesday

Union currently rides an eight game unbeaten streak. The Dutchmen's last lost occurred on October 30th against (you guessed it) RPI when the Engineers scored a power-play goal late with three minutes remaining in regulation and then won the game on a Chase Polacek goal two minutes into overtime. The Dutchmen got revenge though when they beat RPI in overtime 5-4 in the championship game of the RPI Holiday Tournament even though there were many important Dutchmen suspended throughout the tournament. Wednesday's game however will be more important since this is the first time these two teams will meet this season where the game counts towards the ECAC standings.

Looking into the Engineers
Since their victory at Messa Rink on October 3oth RPI (3-3-0 ECAC, 8-8-1 overall) hasn't been as fortunate as the Dutchmen as they have gone 4-6-0, including losing five of their last six games. The Engineers offense is led by junior forward Chase Polacek who leads the team with 10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points, five power-play goals, and .189 shooting percentage (at least 15 shots) in 17 games. Polacek is also joined by an outstanding freshmen duo in Brandon Pirri and Jerry D'Amigo. Pirri is second on the team with seven goals and 14 points, while D'Amigo is tied for third on the team with 13 points (5g, 8a). This trio combines for 48% of RPI's goals and 56% of the team's total points. Also, look out for senior forward Paul Kerins, who is tied with D'Amigo in all offensive categories. Definitely take notice of him when RPI is on the power-play considering four of his five goals have come on the power-play. And you can't forget about junior forward Tyler Helfrich, who after missing the first seven games of the season is averaging a point per game in his 10 games back (3g, 7a). The majority of the goaltending duties has been handled by junior Allen York. In 14 games (6-7-1) he has posted a 2.78 GAA and a .899 save percentage. The three other games have been started by freshman Bryce Merriam who is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA and a .887 save percentage.

This will be a big game for the Dutchmen as all RPI games are, but this one should be tougher for a few reasons:
1) Last game Union beat RPI in their own tournament so RPI will be looking for revenge
2) This game actually counts towards the ECAC standings
3) The game is taking place at Houston Field House... Any game on the road is tough.
4) The Dutchmen have a bulls eye on their back because of their new national ranking and their current unbeaten streak

The Dutchmen better be ready to play at the drop of the puck if they want to extend their unbeaten streak. It will also help if Mario, Wally, and KK can keep up their hot streaks.

I hope some Dutchmen faithful make it to the Houston Field House to support the team even though it is a weeknight. I am planning on traveling up to Troy in the afternoon to make the game and I hope as many of you do the same.

To read more about the Dutchmen and their current streak head to UnionAthletics.com.

Read other previews on the game including Ed Weaver here and Tim Wilkin here, along with video interviews courtesy of Ken Schott here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dutchmen ranked #20 in USCHO.com poll

It looks like I was pretty on target with the rankings as Union barely cracked the USCHO.com poll and now sits as the #20 college hockey team in the nation. Supposedly this is the first time the Dutchmen have been ranked since December 4th, 2000 when they were ranked 12th. It makes sense to me, but now they just have to prove it on Wednesday against RPI. The thing the Dutchmen have to be worried about is that what comes along with the national ranking is a bulls eye that is put on you by other teams. Union joins Cornell (#5), Quinnipiac (#7), and Yale (#8) as the only ECAC teams in the Top 20.

Here's the complete rankings: http://www.uscho.com/rankings/?data=uscho1m&week=poll

Read what Ken Schott has to say about it in his "College Hockey Slap Schotts: Week 9" :
http://www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/schott/2009/dec/07/college-hockey-slap-schotts-week-9/

Valery-Trabucco and Kinkaid honored by ECAC

Mario was named the ECAC Player of the week. In the games against Colgate and Cornell this weekend Valery-Trabucco had his hand in four of Union's five goals with a goal and an assist in each game. This is the second time Mario has been honored in the ECAC. He currently leads the team with 7 goals, 11 assists, and 18 points, and is 18th in the country with 1.29 points-per-game.

Keith was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week. This is his third honor in four weeks. In his past six starts Kinkaid is unbeaten with a 4-0-2 record. Over the weekend he made 31 saves against Colgate and 26 saves against Cornell. He currently has a 2.39 GAA and a .915 save percentage.

Here's the clip from the ECAC website: http://www.ecachockey.com/men/2009-10/Weekly_Awards/20090712_M_Wkly_Awards

Union ranked #18 in INCH Power Rankings

INCH isn't my favorite poll as I feel that the USCHO.com poll is more reliable. We'll see what they have to say on Monday.

Here's the INCH rankings: http://www.insidecollegehockey.com/5Polls/0910/polls_0811.htm

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Union ties #7 Cornell to stay undefeated in ECAC

It's not a win but I'll take a tie against the #7 team in the country any day, especially when the team tied the defending national champions the weekend before. By looking at the box score this seems to have been a very evenly matched affair, and one Union could have won. I say this because the Dutchmen had a goal called off in the first period when Nolan Julseth-White knocked the goal off its moorings before Jeremy Welsh put the puck in the net. Also, one of the goals Cornell scored was on a 5-on3 power-play. It's a little disappointing to see the Dutchmen give the Big Red a two man advantage because they had to know going into the game that if they gave their opponent a two man advantage that there is a VERY good chance that they'll take advantage of it. I'm also a little disappointed to see Union give up two one goal leads in the game. I might be looking at this a tad bit "glass half empty," but I just want to win so badly. But on the other side of the glass I'm glad to see Kinkaid have another good outing (26 saves), the defense shutting down Blake Gallagher and Colin Greening, and Wally and Mario keep up their scoring touch.
Here's the game recap from UnionAthletics.com: http://www.unionathletics.com/news/2009/12/5/MICE_1205090107.aspx

With two-thirds of this line clicking it does bring up the question of what has happened to Adam Presizniuk? He's had his share of assists here and there, but hasn't scored since Union's 6-5 overtime loss to Sacred Heart on October 24th. I haven't been able to see the past six games, but the last games I saw (the Brown and Yale games) he looked a little invisible. Maybe he has something going on that no one knows about, but from my perspective I think this is the repercussions to moving him away from Wally and Mario and now moving him back. He hasn't been able to enhance his chemistry with Wally and Mario this season, which last seemed to be good. I've been harping on this point since the shuffling of the lineup and it looks that as of this moment I am correct. But, on the bright side others (Boileau, Zajac, Welsh, Schreiber) have picked up the slack. It's just a little odd that last year's leading scorer who posted an historic amount of points has only 4 goals on the season.

Now after this very successful weekend people have been talking about the Dutchmen being ranked in the USCHO.com national poll. Ken Schott said that they should be ranked higher than #18 while Cornell Head Coach Mike Schafer says that the Dutchmen deserve to be in the Top 15. He also said that the Dutchmen were the toughest team they played this season, and noted the fact that the Dutchmen swept Maine this season.
You can read Schott's thoughts on the game here: http://www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/schott/2009/dec/05/union-cornell-postgame-report/

Personally I think these two hockey minds are going a little too far with how good the Dutchmen are compared to the rest of the country. In response to Coach Schafer's point on that it was a big feat for the Dutchmen to beat Maine, he should have noticed that Maine was playing without starting goaltender Scott Darling (suspended), and impact forward Tanner House (injury) who is second on the team with seven goals and 1.1 points per game. It was also the opening weekend for the Dutchmen and it was at home, which gives the team that extra boost of energy. Don't get wrong, Maine is an excellent team now as they are third in the Hockey East conference but they were a different team in October.

The main reason on why I don't agree with these two statements is because Union has not WON a game against a top opponent... emphasis on the word won. As of this past weeks rankings Union has played three teams in the top 20: St. Cloud State (#20), Yale (#10), and Cornell (#7). Their record against these teams is 0-1-3. Yes, they have taken three points from these teams, but I feel in order to be grouped with the best (Top 15) you have to beat the best and the Dutchmen haven't done that. It is true that they played these teams very tough (they were so close to beating Yale), but they haven't won and it's wins that take you to the next level. It is wins, not ties, that give you playoff victories and help you advance to the next round. You might argue that there isn't continuous overtime in the regular season like there is in the playoffs, but it's not like the Dutchmen have fared to well in overtime games this season. So far they have played eight overtime games and have gone 1-2-5, which is not a good overtime record when it comes to wins and losses. Union needs to prove that they can WIN against these top teams before I put them in the Top 15, and they will get their chance as they play Quinnipiac (twice, home and away), UMass, Cornell, and Yale all away from Messa Rink in 2010.

The weekend against AIC and Sacred Heart also bother me when it comes to ranking the Dutchmen in the Top 15. Even though Union pulled out the win against AIC it was still a nail-bitter, and against Sacred Heart the team basically got blown off the ice for two periods and then tied it up before not having enough to keep the Pioneers from winning the game. Currently both teams sit at the bottom of the Atlantic Hockey conference, the weakest conference (personally, since Bemidji State is in the CHA). AIC has only two wins on the season while Sacred Heart has three, one of which was against Union and the other against AIC. Is this the type of results against two of the worst teams in college hockey that you expect a Top 15 team to have. I understand it was the opening weekend for these two teams, which I said before give your team a little extra jump, but when two traditionally weak teams come into your building you better blow them off the ice. I guarantee that this would have not happened to Cornell, Yale, or Quinnipiac.

After all of this you're probably thinking what I think the Dutchmen will be ranked once the polls come out on Monday. Well I think the Dutchmen will fall anywhere from 18-21. After beating Colgate they will definitely jump over them in the rankings, and I since Michigan split their weekend with Ohio State, who is a mid-level CCHA team, I think there is a possibility that they jump over them too. #20 St. Cloud beat Alaska-Anchorage, a lower tier WCHA team, in their only game this weekend, which gives Union the chance to jump over them even though they're 0-1-1 against them this season. #19 Vermont beat #10 Yale earlier this week and then tied Boston University this weekend, so I think that Vermont will move up in the rankings considering Yale beat #4 Quinnipiac this weekend. #18 Nebraska-Omaha played #17 Ferris state in a weekend series with Ferris State taking both games, so there is a chance that UNO will drop out of the Top 20. There is also a chance that other teams could fall out of the poll. So, if I had to pick where Union will end up in the USCHO.com rankings on Monday I'd say #19.

We will all see soon enough what the Dutchmen will be ranked or if they're even ranked at all. All I know is that Quinnipiac will definitely be dropping down in the rankings after their dismal weekend (7-4 loss to Yale, and 2-1 loss to Brown).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Union-Colgate game was "uninspiring"

In Ken Schott's post-game thoughts he harps on how dead the Union faithful were tonight and how it carried over to the ice. I can just picture Mr. Schott right now standing in the press box being absolutely livid when no one sang Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" with him.

Here's Ken Schott's feelings on the game from his blog: http://www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/schott/2009/dec/05/union-colgate-postgame-report/

Stephane Boileau blamed the lack of energy to overconfidence, but I know from experience that it is hard to get pumped up for a game in your own building when no one is there or excited. And the reason why there was no energy or excitement tonight was because of the Union students being on winter break. The students truly are the "7th Man" and get the Union players amped. I'm sure the only student dedicated enough to make the trek to Schenectady during their winter break was the team's #1 fan Will Friedman. So, this bring up the question of who and why schedule an ECAC home weekend during the school's winter break? I'm sure it wasn't Coach Leaman's doing because he has said in many conversations that I've had with him how much his team responds to the student section and how they have played their best hockey at home in front of a loud and energetic crowd. This is the first time in recent memory (or at least since I've been at Union) that there was an ECAC game at Messa Rink during the winter break.

I almost feel bad that I did not attend the game, but not that bad considering I went to Nets-Bobcats game where the Nets won their first game of the season. The crowd was really into it and the tickets that I bought were 75 cents (so can you really blame me?). But, I will be making the trek up to Troy on Wednesday to see the Dutchmen take on the Engineers for the third time this season.

This scheduling problem also brings up the question of why is the Union-RPI game at RPI that counts towards league standings on a Wednesday night? This makes no sense to me considering it's a rivalry game. What would be the problem with putting this game in the same weekend when RPI travels to Schenectady on Saturday, Janurary 16th? It's the only game the Dutchmen and the Engineers have that weekend. Someone in the ECAC scheduling office has some explaining to do.

Union 3, Colgate 1

With a shorthanded first period goal from Mario Valery-Trabucco, a power-play second period goal from Stephane Boileau, and a even strength third period goal from Jeremy Welsh along with solid goaltending from Keith Kinkaid the Dutchmen were able to top the Raiders 3-1. Kinkaid made 31 saves in the game giving him a 4-0-1 record on the year. Jason Walters also kept up his point streak with two assists.

The win extends Union's unbeaten streak to seven games and leaves them as the only undefeated team in the conference. Heading into Saturday's game with Cornell (who beat RPI 2-1 Friday) the Dutchmen sit tied in fourth place in the ECAC with Yale. They trail Quinnipiac (who lost their first ECAC game Friday 7-4 to Yale), Cornell, and Colgate, but each of these teams have games in hand.

It's great to see the team pull out a win against Colgate because no matter what happens against Cornell this will be a successful weekend considering heading into the weekend each Colgate and Cornell were ahead of the Dutchmen in the standings. Maybe this will put less pressure on Union for Saturday's game. And personally I am happy to see Presizniuk back with Wally and Mario, and Yanovitch back with the Simpson brothers. I feel that this combination will give the Dutchmen their best chance to win. Maybe Coach Leaman reads my blog and took my advice... but I highly doubt it haha.

The Cornell matchup will be a tough test for the Dutchmen as Cornell is one of the hottest teams in college hockey and have one of the best offenses in the nation. This offense is led by Blake Gallagher and Colin Greening who each scored in their team's 2-1 victory over RPI on Friday.

Check out the game recap from UnionAthletics.com: http://www.unionathletics.com/news/2009/12/4/MICE_1204094112.aspx

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kinkaid named Hockey Commissioners' Association Honorable Mention Rookie of the Month

Kinkaid must be the most decorated goalie in the country at this point. On top of all of his awards from last year in the NAHL he was given three awards in the past month: ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week (11/16), ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week (11/30), and now this award. Keith his highly deserving of these awards as he has been one of the big reasons why the Dutchmen had a successful month of November. The Long Island native went 3-0-3 during the month (including a first place finish at the RPI Tournament) where he posted a 1.93 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

Keith has also got a lot of press lately:

INCH's Joe Gladziszewski talks about Keith getting his opportunity as a freshman: http://insidecollegehockey.com/inch/category/ecachockey/

The Times Union's Tim Wilkin talks about Keith putting on the pads for the first time and includes a quote from Coach Leaman saying that Keith is not the #1 goalie and Milan has been a little sick lately:
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=873732&category=SPORTS

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Colgate and Cornell preview

After winning the RPI tournament last weekend and going undefeated in the month of November, the Dutchmen will now try to take care of more important business as they face Colgate and #7 Cornell this weekend at Messa Rink. Both teams are ahead of Union in the ECAC standings, but have three games in hand. If the Dutchmen want to make their presence known in ECAC they must take at least two points this weekend.

Colgate: Even though the Raiders hold an advantage in the all-time series, the Dutchmen have had the upper hand recently having gone 3-1-1 in the last five match-ups. Last season the Dutchmen fared well against the Raiders as they went 2-0-1, including the victory at the championship game of the Governor's Cup. The last time Colgate beat Union at Messa Rink was February 2007.

The Raiders got off to a hot start this year having gone unbeaten in their first six games, but have cooled off lately as they have gone 1-2-0 in their past three games. They last played on November 24th in a loss to Cornell, so they should be fully rested.

Colgate is led by a usual suspect: David McIntyre. Last season McIntyre was first team all-ECAC, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, first team AHCA/Reebok Eastern All-American, a first team all-American by Inside College Hockey, and was selected to the all-College Hockey News team. He hasn't stopped this season and has lived up to his preseason first team all-ECAC and preseason first team all-American (INCH) selections. This year the senior has tallied four goals and a team-high 14 assists. He also leads the team in penalty minutes (26) and shots (64). David leads all current Raiders with two goals and three assists all-time against Union. McIntyre is joined on top of the Colgate scoring list by sophomore Austin Smith. Smith, a Dallas Stars draft pick, leads the Raiders with eight goals and a .242 shooting percentage. Other Raiders to look out for are Brian Day and Francois Brisebois. Day has registered 12 points (9 goals (4 PP), 3 assists) this season in 12 games this season including a team high +9 rating, while Brisebois has tallied six goals and four assists.

The Colgate goaltending duties have been shared this season between senior Charles Long and sophomore Alex Evin. Long has gone 4-2-2 this season with a 3.09 GAA and a .902 Save Percentage, while Evin has gone 2-2-2 in seven starts with a 3.45 GAA and a .887 Save Percentage. Long started all three games against the Dutchmen last season.

Cornell: The Big Red are one of the best teams in college hockey today, and has one of the most rabid followings of any college hockey team in the nation. Don't be surprised if there are more Cornell fans at Messa on Saturday considering there will be no students because of winter break. Cornell comes off of a 3-3 tie to defending national champion Boston University last weekend in front of a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden. The Big Red have dominated the Dutchmen owning a 27-12-5 record in the series, and having won the past four games against Union. Under Head Coach Mike Schafer Cornell has gone 18-8-4 against Union. The last Union victory over Cornell came on February 15, 2008.

Over the past few years Cornell has been the type of team that had minimal offensive production and would beat you with their stellar defense and get their 1-2 goals off of power-play opportunities. This year the defense (ninth in the nation with 2.22 goals allowed per game) and power-play unit (top in the nation with 31.9% conversion rate) is still the same, but the offense has caught fire as they are the third highest scoring offense in the nation with 4.00 goals per game. The Big Red offense is led by senior Blake Gallagher (9 goals (6 PP), 6 assists in 9 games), who is second in the nation with 1.67 points-per-game. His nine goals is a team high. Gallagher isn't the only senior forward who is lighting up the score sheet as Ottawa draft pick Colin Greening is fifth in all of college hockey with 1.56 points-per-game with 4 goals (3PP) and a team-high 10 assists. Also be aware of the Devin and Nash brothers. Forward Joe Devin has tallied four goals and six assists, while his brother Joe is a force to be reckoned with on defense. Junior forward Riley Nash is a play maker on offense having tallied 2 goals and 7 assists on the young season, while his older brother Brendon has been productive from the blueline with a goal and eight assists.

Senior Ben Scrivens has been the constant for the Big Red having been the starting goaltender for the past three seasons. Scrivens has been regarded as one of the top goaltenders in the ECAC and in the nation and has the statistics to prove it. Last year he was 22-10-4 with 1.81 GAA and a .931 save percentage, and this year has kept up the pace having gone 6-2-1 with a 2.10 GAA and a .925 save percentage while playing every minute this season.

If you can't make it to the game you can listen to it on 89.7FM WRUC, follow it on Live Stats (go to UnionAthletics.com), or watch it on Time Warner Sports Channel 3 in the Capital District.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ECAC Championship Tickets go on sale

If the Dutchmen make it to their first ECAC Final Four you know that you're going to want to be there. Not only would it be the program's first trip to the Final Four, it will also be the last Final Four in Albany as for the next three years the tournament will move to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The semifinals will take place on March 19 and the finals will follow the next day on March 20. Adult tickets will be $24 per session, and $14 for a student per session.

Here is the press release along with all other information about the tickets:
http://www.ecachockey.com/men/2009-10/news/20090112_Tix_On_Sale