Friday, March 11, 2011

ECAC Quarterfinals vs. Colgate Preview

Finally, the playoffs have arrived in Schenectady! This weekend the Dutchmen host the Colgate Raiders for a best-of-three series after the Raiders upset fifth-seed RPI in Troy last weekend. Union had a bye last week and used the time to recover from injuries and get ahead (or maybe catch up) on their schoolwork.

While the Raiders have been hot of late (6-3-1 in last 10 games) and are probably the best last-place team in the country, the Dutchmen are absolutely on fire. They haven't lost in 11 games (10-0-1), which is tied for the nation's longest unbeaten streak with Holy Cross, and are 14-1-1 in the winter term. Union has also been almost unbeatable at home this season going 15-1-2.

I think the Dutchmen saw what Colgate is made of this past weekend at RPI and won't let them succeed in the Capital Region for the second weekend in a row. It will definitely be a tough series, but Union is great at home so I have confidence that they won't lose twice in one weekend at Messa Rink.

So Union students, put down your study guides, leave the lab, and take a break from your thesis and come see the best team in Union Hockey history in their final weekend at Messa Rink this season. YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS!!! Remember, the first 300 students get in free.

Here are some players to watch:

Eric Mihalik: the freshman goaltender was outstanding in net last weekend at RPI where he made a combined 92 saves, including 40 saves in Game 3. He was named INCH's Player of the Week for his efforts. After going winless in his first 10 career starts, he's gone 6-3-1 in his last 10 starts. He was in goal for both losses to Union this year.
Francois Brisebois: the senior forward leads the team in scoring with 15 goals and 31 points, as well as power-play goals (6). He scored twice in Game 2 last weekend in Troy.
Austin Smith: led the Raiders with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) last weekend and has 10 career points in post-season play (6 goals, 4 assists). Smith it tied for the team lead with 20 assists and is second with 29 points. He currently has a four game point streak.
Robbie Bourdon: the sophomore is the only forward on the team besides Brisebois with double-digit goals (10). He scored the game-winning goal in double overtime in Game 3 last weekend, and has tallied a point in five of his past six games.

Adam Presizniuk: in the playoffs your best player needs to play his best. Prezie is Union's best player and will be a major reason why Union advances or falls.
Keith Kinkaid: the same can be said about goaltending, which is arguably the most important thing in the playoffs. A hot goaltender can bring a team to a championship. Kinkaid is one of the best netminders in the country and if he catches fire who knows how far Union will go.
Daniel Carr: special teams is also extremely important in the playoffs. Carr is tied for the nation's lead in power-play goals, so he will be the go-to guy on Union's PP.
Andrew Buote & Justin Pallos: on the same note, penalty killing will be very important throughout the playoffs. Personally, Buote and Pallos are the two best penalty killers on the team and their leadership will be very important during the playoff run.
Mat Bodie: the younger Bodie is just one point away from breaking Mike Schreiber's '10 record for most points in a season by a defenseman (29).
Kelly Zajac: Zaj leads Union in scoring with 38 points, and has picked up 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) in his past eight games. He will be featured in the game program this weekend (I wrote the feature story).

For more check out:
Union Athletics
Go Colgate
Daily Gazette - Ken Schott
Times Union - Sean Martin
Inside College Hockey

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