Friday, March 30, 2012

Tampa "Ride Board"

In the meantime, enjoy this. Courtesy Trent Hermann
Many people have already booked flights and tickets for the Frozen Four. Others have come to the site looking to sell tickets they've already bought. Feel free to use this space (in the comments) to coordinate with others.

People have already posted on our Facebook page/commented on Twitter, so we might as well use the blog as a means for people to coordinate, like one of those old-timey ride boards at colleges. You know, the kind they used before the interwebs.


I'd suggest talking further through email, you know, for privacy's sake.

We'll keep this pinned to the top of the blog for easy access.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sweater 'Sthetics: Minnesota vs. Boston College

"Sweater 'Stethics," is a weekly feature here on UHB that will pluck two teams from the world of college hockey and compare them based on their jerseys alone. This week's competition is especially apropos: these two teams will face each other in the other preliminary of the Frozen Four in Tampa. Vote for your favorite jerseys.


Vote On This Week's "Sweater 'Sthetics"
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Home Jerseys






Away Jerseys




Boston College Eagles


Home Jerseys


Away Jerseys


Alternate Jerseys



Frozen Fenway Alternate Jerseys

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Monday, March 26, 2012

"You Are Union"

I've been sitting on this post for a while, thinking of different ways to retell what happened on Saturday Night. A slideshow? A recording of "Ho-bey Ba-ker" chants ringing through the Arena at Harbor Yard Webster Bank Arena? Perhaps Union superfan Will Friedman's look of pure, unadulterated happiness? It feels cheap to chalk it up to a mere: "you had to be there" (what is the point of writing about it, then?). I'm still searching for the appropriate response--aside from snapping up the requisite Union Frozen Four garb (which will be overnighted to the bookstore). There may never be one. Saturday night was just that good.
Courtesy Adriano Manocchia

As the groundswell of coverage grows in this anticipatory week, "little Union" might just be at the tip of the tongue of the hockey world. But there's no finality yet; there's still hockey to be played. And that may be the best descriptor of all. It's March 26th, and we still have hockey to play.

***

Talking to UMass-Lowell fans post-game, they stressed that the game was never that close. But after the River Hawks pulled within one goal off a flukey turnover behind Union's net, we were right back to the start. Union thoroughly outclassed UML, much as the team appeared more skilled against Michigan State.

These affable River Hawks fans: they understood the smile on our faces. After winning only five games last year, UMass-Lowell advanced to the tournament for the first time since 1996. These fans had been through famine and now were enjoying a feast. Downcast after the loss, they heartily congratulated those wearing the garnet and white. But they weren't upset at the Dutchmen for bouncing them from the table; they were happy just to be invited.

Union fans felt the same way.

***

Post game, Troy Grosenick spoke to a cavalcade of media: "It's a testament to the program, really. All the hard work everyone before us put in really built the foundation." Part of the beauty of college hockey is its permanence and its transience. Programs like UMass-Lowell's can stun the competition; perennial contenders like Cornell revel in a rich history. For each fan, their hockey team means something else, something personal. Players will inevitably move on, graduate, sometimes go pro. But there is an immediate and lasting connection to a team that can remain distinctly yours even when ESPN is flashing your star goaltender's top play at the end of SportsCenter. But Troy Grosenick played with Stéphane Boileau, who played with Jeff Christiansen, who played with Sean Streich, who played Joel Beal (now an assistant coach)...

It's at once an elite fraternity and an open party--and Union fans from the Harkness years to the Leaman  Cleary Cup are all on the guest list. There are no cover charges, no fees, no tests to pass. Just get in (for free!) and make Section Q shake. Or pony up the nominal fee to sit in the nicer seats. (Or get your buddy to let you in the side door near the press box while you hide behind the pile of snow placed there by the Zamboni).

And because, as a long suffering Mets fan, I have to justify my fandom, maybe it is a little like rooting for that team in Flushing. There are the great years (1969, 1986), good ones, and tryingly lean ones. As a Freshman (as the Mets blew their second consecutive September lead), I lent some of my affections to the team over in Messa Rink. They had everything I loved about the Mets--the underdog spirit, the stadium that others had belittled and that I had embraced. But they had nothing about the Mets that stuck in my craw; there were no lackluster efforts, no expectations bolstered by the next paycheck. I shouted as the Sophomore phenom (I had marginally followed his exploits as a senior in high school after being accepted) Corey Milan stood between the pipes. As a (pretty bad) goaltender myself, I couldn't help but love the way he played. With smarts, reckless abandon, and aplomb. That team cast the hook. I provided the line and sinker.

***
I have no battle scars like some of the Garnet Blades members do. The Union Hockey lifers--followers of the men's and women's programs--smile with memories of Division III dominance and cringe at the meager years of the 1990s. But they are quick to remind us of games like this. They remind us that the Women's team will be in a similar place to this year's men's team in just a few years. Just look at the core they're building, they remind us. Just look at the tenacity of that team, they say.

They've never charged me, the chanters from Section Q, the casual Saturday-nighters, the former players, the hockey neophytes, or anyone, for that matter, admission into their club. They beckon us with open arms, welcoming us to a club that can have your emotions run the gamut from ecstatic to downcast--all within a few minutes. They welcome our criticisms and our passions.

The encouraged post-game reaction, according to Will Friedman
An enduring motto that still waves on flags around campus--but seems to have been toned down by the PR department--is "You Are Union." It's got a nice ring to it, I used to think. But outside of the gates of campus, perhaps less and less substance. But watching the Union faithful pour into Webster Bank Arena this weekend changed my mind. I sat next to a Union fan who graduated in 1976, a Freshman, a Senior, the Head Coach of the Women's team, a fan who never attended the institution, but who still shouts "the Union forever, boys! Huzzah!" He told me he wants to get "ARTHUR" emblazoned on the back of his jersey. Number? "48, of course. The year Chester A. Arthur graduated." The same fans who chanted "E-C-A-C" toward the end of the UMass-Lowell game in response to previous taunts of "EZ-AC" from the River Hawks contingent" were anything but homogenous.

The gracious Eric Hornick, a Union grad, and now statistician of the New York Islanders (another team that unfortunately tugs at my heart strings a little too much), and former Union Hockey broadcaster on WRUC (shameless plug, I'll take it), had told Evan and me during the Michigan State game that "little Union" could garner some big national attention with -- at that time-- two more wins. Two wins later, and a first ever Frozen Four berth, some of that attention is starting to roll in. "It's exciting to see us get some national attention," Jeremy Welsh told the media after the UML game. I couldn't help but smiling. Will Friedman roared. Union fans milled about in bunches, sporadically chanting "Fro-zen Fo-ur!" They thanked the Sacred Heart band that was ingnominiously dubbed the "rent-a-band." The Nott Noisemakers native to Messa Rink had unhappily, and unceremoniously, been displaced for the weekend. But the Union bunch, ever willing to make good on their motto, welcomed the controversial substitute band into their world. By the time they marched out, the Sacred Heart band was smiling as much as anyone else. I had to crouch in the concourse of Webster Bank Arena. This was the top, I told myself, still crouched. This was it. I had to rub my face to make sure I wasn't going numb from excitement. This was the top of the mountain.

But as I willed myself away from the ground--harder than it looked, thanks to some arena hot dogs--I began to think about that old guard of Union fans. Was this the mountain top for them? They undoubtedly looked forward to Tampa and the ensuing matchup between Ferris State. (Although at the time, we were pulling for an all-ECAC game with Cornell). But this wasn't it. How, after all, could you mash years of shared memories, chants, and tears into one splendid, albeit solitary event?

And then it hit me. These fans--this program--for all of the highs, and lows--has remained constant for so many different people. The entrance to the Frozen Four was not a crowning achievement. It was merely a new, better opportunity to welcome those who previously been away, into their fast-growing group. "You are Union," the banners still read. I never thought it would take a hockey game to hoist that motto right below my own flag.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Game Time: Union vs. UMass-Lowell: Elite Eight

In many ways, the UMass-Lowell River Hawks mirror the Union Dutchmen. The River Hawks entered Division I play in Hockey East in the 1984-1985 season. The Skating Dutchmen went DI in 1991-1992. (They dropped the "Skating" part of their moniker after the '01-'02 campaign). The River Hawks have a first year head coach, Norm Bazin. Rick Bennett won ECAC coach of the year in his first behind the bench. Both are. looking for their first Division I Frozen Four appearance. The River Hawks last appeared in the tournament in 1996. Union fans need no reminder that yesterday's win over Michigan State was the first DI NCAA Tournament victory in program history. But while UMass-Lowell posted a miserable 5-25-4 record last season, the Dutchmen won the Cleary Cup and advanced with their first NCAA bid.

Either way, as ESPN's John Buccigross sums it up the spirit of the thing nicely:

While I don't quite get the #oldyeller hashtag, these are two teams that appear to be sleepers, at least on the national scale.

Dutchmen fans will rightly argue that their squad should not be considered a sleeper team. Aside from Barry Melrose's endorsement, Union has put together two consecutive campaigns to remember, topping off (so far) at a record #3 ranking in the national polls. But Cinderella story? I'll take it. Whatever gets us more hockey like we saw yesterday, I'll take it.

***
Doug Carr
  • Our buddy Dan Greene provides an excellent preview of both UMass-Lowell and Ferris State (Cornell's next opponent). Check it out, he has all you need to know. Dan writes:
The River Hawks were one of the hottest teams in the nation in the earlier half of the season, but cooled off heading into the NCAA's. In their previous 10 games heading into Bridgeport, Lowell went 4-5-1, with only one of those wins coming against a team in the tournament field.
Cole Ikkala
  • Watch for Junior Riley Wetmore, last night's hero against Miami. He led the River Hawks in scoring this season to a tune of 14 goals and 25 assists. The Vermont native packs a punch offensively. Union has had their hands full in recent games holding potent players in check: Austin Smith, Danny Biega, Torey Krug. Expect the Dutchmen to come in with a solid defensive game plan.
  • Scott Wilson and Derek Arnold (freshman and sophomore, respectively) are second and third on the team in scoring. UMass can put pucks in the net.
  • Come tourney-time, goalies can steal the show. While Doug Carr's 2.10 GAA is higher than Troy Grosenick's, the River Hawks keeper sports a very good .929 SV%. Union players were wowed by his mobility and fantastic saves yesterday; he'll be a big obstacle. 
  • Union's Jeremy Welsh is getting even more exposure than usual, and deservingly so. Aside from several NHL scouts in attendance yesterday, Welsh has commanded a captivated audience. His goal yesterday padded his single season scoring record, while proving that below the hashmarks, there may not be a more dangerous player. We saw this in the ECAC Championship game: when Welshie needs to, he can use his explosiveness and power-forward instincts to change the game.
  • We all know about Troy Grosenick, Hobey Baker finalist and his game-saving glove stop late in the third. He'll be back between the pipes tonight. 
  • But also keep an eye on the less-heralded players for the Dutchmen, namely the "energy line" of Cole Ikkala, Max Novak, and Sam Coatta. Coach Bennett will deploy his fourth line strategically to add some physicality and speed. But this line is fourth in name only; Union's depth is part of its recipe for success. 
  • Last night's game was decidedly chippy; Jake Chelios (father, Chris Chelios) was tossed early for a dangerous hit from behind. All night long, the Spartans bruised and scrapped with the Dutchmen. It was hard to remember a game with more nastiness from an opponent. The Dutchmen need be ready to ward off the physical game once more. 
  • UMass-Lowell will undoubtedly try to break down Union's strong defense. Expect them to try to cycle the puck along the half boards and tire out the Dutchmen in their own zone. Union will have to counteract any aggressiveness with levelheadedness; they cannot afford to take excess penalties. 
Follow Along 
  • Follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates. We'll be back with lines.  And of course, follow Union Hockey and Ken Schott.
  • The game will be telecast on ESPNU.
  • Listen (local to Schenectady) on AM 1160 and 1240. Otherwise, listen online here.
More updates to come.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

If you only read one thing today, it should probably be this:
But in case you hanker for a little more, consider everything that happened yesterday in the NCAA.
***
Courtesy Patrick Dodson
I woke up this morning eager to refresh Twitter on my phone. I had to make sure that those memories of Union College advancing to the Elite Eight were not wispy remnants of a dream. It couldn't have been real, right? A mob of Union fans serenading Troy Grosenick with chants of "Ho-bey Ba-ker!" while the ESPN crew caught up with him post game. The veritable sea of garnet to my left and right, some 150 miles away from Schenectady. This couldn't be real.

What snapped me back to reality, ironically, was a sense of déjà vu. Over the course of this season, there has a veritable mountain of "pinch-me" moments. Union traveling to Michigan and winning at Yost Arena. The Dutchmen playing an outdoor game at Fenway Park and winning. The Red Sox cathedral turning into a glorified Union rally. Winning the Cleary Cup with the thrilling help of a rival. Sweeping RPI out of the playoffs (and going 5-0 against them overall). Triumphantly hoisting the Whitelaw in Atlantic City. And now, advancing to the Elite Eight after a nailbiting (and often controversial) game against Michigan State.

Union Faithful (Courtesy Patrick Dodson)
                                                                              ***

But to limit your college hockey worldview to a Dutchmen-centric one last night would have been tragic. Fellow ECAC traveller Cornell pulled off the upset of the tournament, defeating #2 Michigan in Green Bay. The game was anything but pretty: penalties marred the flow of the game, there were disallowed goals (sound familiar?). Despite the fits and starts, Cornell held on to a slim 2-1 lead over Michigan going into the third. But with four minutes left, Michigan slipped a puck past Andy Iles. In the ensuing extra frame, Rodger Craig (not to be confused with original Met Roger Craig) deposited a shot past an out of position Shawn Hunwick. With that, Friday saw two ECAC teams move on. But as Michigan departed the ice, we were reminded why hockey, despite its chippiness and rivalries, is still very much a gentleman's game. From CHN's recap:
After Hunwick took a couple of seconds to absorb seeing his season end with an OT goal in an NCAA game for the third straight season, he picked up the puck that Craig deposited in the net, skated to the Cornell bench, and gave it to an assistant coach to give to Craig..."It's one of the classiest things I've seen in 25 years of coaching," Schafer said. "To think of that in such a disappointing moment showed a lot of class for the kid and character, and those things don't go unnoticed. ... I was very impressed by it."
But wait, there was more. Miami of Ohio mounted a furious comeback during the second game at Webster Bank Arena after UMass-Lowell jumped off to a quick, seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead. Miami roared back with three tallies in the third. With a five minute powerplay that would ultimately spill over into overtime, the Red Hawks seemed poised to steal an improbable win. But thanks to UMass-Lowell's Doug Carr (no relation to Daniel Carr), and a well-timed save by the post in OT, the River Hawks survived the onslaught before Riley Wetmore scored the game winner, propelling his team to the their first NCAA win since 1996. Miami settled for another heart-rending tournament loss.

Just in case you were wondering, Ferris State eliminated Denver in an equally thrilling 2-1 win. Only a day of back-and-forth drama and compelling narratives could push this game to the very bottom of our recap.
***
As the dust settled after the whirlwind action of Friday night, a few stories came into focus. The Dutchmen would move on, winning their first ever Division I NCAA tournament game. Their opponent? Massachusetts-Lowell, stranger to the tournament since 1996. No matter what, one team will emerge from today's 6:30 game as a first-time Frozen Four participant. 

But then there is Cornell. If all goes according to plan, Union could meet up with Cornell in Tampa for the final. Most assuredly, that prospect has not yet registered on Coach Bennett's squad's radar. Nor should it: much of the success of the Union program (beside stellar goaltending, a rock solid defense and timely scoring) is rooted in the mantra: "one game at a time." To the casual fan, who can't help but dream of the next step--and the one after that--the Dutchmen live by the platitudes that seem mundane to the rest of us. But these are not players merely rehearsing the company byline. Their even-keeled steadiness is a hallmark of their success and one of the end results of the program's lofty aspirations. Don't be mistaken, the boys understand that last night's win was the biggest in program history. But they also understand, more importantly, that hockey is a fickle game, especially in the NCAA Tournament (simply look above to witness the thrilling volatility of last night's action). To paraphrase Hobey Baker finalist Troy Grosenick in nearly every post-game conference, the sport is not about looking at past failures or missed opportunities. It is, instead, predicated adding each brick to the growing accomplishments of this program, piece by piece. Before you know it, the team is advancing to the Elite Eight, with an eye on the Frozen Four. You don't have to pinch yourself to wake up from this splendid dream: this is a splendid reality.

Tidbits:

  • Disallowed Goal: It was a common theme last night, also changing the complexion of Cornell's contest. From my view in the stands, the flurry in front of Grosenick's net resulted only in some emphatic Michigan State celebrations and an equally emphatic "no goal" signal from the official; the red light never flashed. The call needed to be entirely conclusive to overturn the on-ice ruling, and luckily for Union, it wasn't. But upon further review, the goal probably should have counted. The puck appeared to cross the goal line just as the net was lifted off its moorings by Josh Jooris. It's impossible to know what the officials conferred on in the box (for quite a long time), but in the end, the call on the ice stood. I imagine if the red light had gone on, they would have overturned it.
  • Rent-A-Band: There's no secret to the tunes that wafted down from one of Union's sections yesterday. They were fun, peppy, and loud, but weren't strictly Kosher. See, Union had hired the Sacred Heart Band instead of bussing down the Nott Noisemakers for the contest. This smacks of a bad PR move for Union Athletics, which has done everything else right. Let the band that has played every game at Messa Rink play in Bridgeport. This should not an indictment of a lack of interest from Union fans. The head of Union's pep band is rightfully infuriated. This is, instead, a cost-efficiency move. The faux-U-Crew was good last night, but it certainly struck the wrong chord with Union fans. Let an integral piece of the hockey team travel with them; they certainly deserve it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Post Game Reaction: Union 3 - MSU 1

"The Ghost" (Patrick Dodson)

  • "Grosenick, Welsh lead Union past Michigan State" -- USCHO
  • "Union Beats Michigan St. in Men's Hockey Tournament" --Times Union/NY Times (AP)
  • "Michigan State Bows Out of NCAA Tournament After 3-1 Loss to Union" --MLive
  • "Union Defeats Michigan State, 3-1 to Advance to NCAA East Regional Title Game" --Union Athletics
  • Ken Schott's Wrap-up (and discussion/videos about MSU's non-goal) --Schenectady Gazette
  • "Disallowed Goal Weighs on Michigan State After Regional Loss" -- USCHO
  • "Despite Loss, Anastos Offers Hope for Upcoming Seasons" --The State News
  • "Union Rides Its Blueprint To Victory" --College Hockey News
  • Box Score 
  • Further Reading:
  • "A Plan To Get More NCAA Games On Live TV"--BC Connection  
  • ...And for tomorrow's opponent: "Eventually Massachusetts-Lowell tops Miami" --USCHO

  • Game Time: Michigan State vs. Union

    Well, folks: today's game is a big one.
    Union
    15 Matt Hatch - 19 Kelly Zajac (A) - 21 Wayne Simpson
    9 Daniel Carr - 27 Jeremy Welsh (A) - 7 Josh Jooris
    16 Kevin Sullivan - 12 Kyle Bodie - 17 Daniel Ciampini
    23 Cole Ikkala - 18 Max Novak - 11 Sam Coatta

    22 Mat Bodie - 28 Shawn Stuart
    2 Nolan Julseth-White (C) - 3 Ryan Forgaard
    14 Shayne Gostisbehere - 20 Greg Coburn
    Union practicing at Arena at Harbor Yard Webster Bank Arena
    • The good people over at the Official Blog of Union Hockey posted a great pre-game reading list for today's game. There's a lot there from a lot of sources.
    • If you haven't seen it, check it out. Union gets some well deserved ink in the New York Times.
    • As a Norwalk, CT native, it's nice to see Kevin Sullivan--a Darien, CT kid (our neighbors)--get some press. Like me, it'll be easy for his family to get to the game today in Bridgeport.
    • Speaking of which, if you can't make it, the game will be broadcast on ESPNU starting at 3:00.
    • SB Nation says that Union and UMass-Lowell will bring legions of fans. 
    • The New Haven Register also prints a story about Union.
    • UMass-Lowell and Miami will play the game following Union's if you'd like to stick around.
    • Sort of off topic: Michigan State was bounced from the NCAA basketball tournament.
    • The Michigan State Spartans have won the NCAA tournament 3 times: 1966, 1986, and 2007. This marks their 24th appearance in the tournament. They've made the Frozen Four nine times.
    • We'll be updating the blog throughout the day, but in the meantime follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates. We'll be back with lines. You can follow Michigan State Hockey on Twitter, as well. And of course, follow Union Hockey and Ken Schott.

    The inimitable Jeff Weinstein posted two press conference videos on the Official Blog of Union Hockey:







    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Looks Like We've Got Ourselves a Program

    -This isn't about one season, we are building a program here.

    While paraphrased, that has been the team mantra for the past few seasons. Those words ring true now more than ever.

    For the past few seasons, the Dutchmen have been having a lot of "firsts." First playoff series win, first ECAC Finals appearance, first Cleary Cup, and first D-I NCAA Tournament appearance.

    Last season seemed to be the peak. They had won the Cleary Cup despite Yale seeming like the class of the ECAC all season, and they received an at-large bid into the national tournament as a 2-seed.

    Then, at season's end, they lost their Penrose award-winning head coach, their All-American goaltender, and one of the best senior classes they have ever had, including the program's career leader in points, Adam Presizniuk. There was no way they would be able to duplicate that success.

    Yet, somehow they did. More surprisingly the team didn't seem to miss a beat. They lose a Penrose award-winning coach, and a Ken Dryden award-winning goalie...and they replace them with a Penrose award-winning coach, and a Ken Dryden award-winning goalie.

    And in the process they stopped looking like a team of "firsts" and instead, a team that has been there and done that. Sure they added a few more milestones this season, including winning the Whitelaw Cup last weekend, and being awarded one of the four 1-seeds for this weekends regional, but these Dutchmen aren't satisfied with just making it to the dance...they want to bring home some hardware.

    In twenty years, I hope to look back and remember this time as Union's coming out party, not the highlight of the program. And now, more than ever, it looks like the case.

    Let's Go U!

    Video from Atlantic City--Updated

    Update 3: Scott Wykoff '85 provides us with some fantastic footage from AC. Enjoy!





    Update 2: RPI TV posts highlights from the ECAC Championship Final. You can watch the entire game for free here. You will also be able to buy copies (blu-ray and DVD) of all the games from this weekend from RPI TV, which did an excellent job. Give them a follow on Twitter if you'd like to thank them for beaming this weekend's heroics into our homes (or computers).



    Update: Our own Evan Slavit was in the stands in Atlantic City (lucky...) and he took some video of Union's post game festivities. Watch for Josh Jooris and Troy Grosenick's patented handshake at ~30 seconds.



    Avid Union fan (and craft brew connoisseur) Chad sends this video our way. Check it out--it's got some great shots of Atlantic City and Union's win:

    NCAA Selection Show

    Union, as expected, secured the number one seed in the east regionals, which will take place on the 23rd and 24th in Bridgeport, CT.  The #3 Dutchmen (!) will face #15 Michigan State on Friday, March 23rd.

    Courtesy of College Hockey News

    We taped (albeit with some bootleg overtones) today's selection show, which actually showed precious little footage of Union. I'll chalk that up to the fact that a) the ECAC Championships were not televised outside of RPI TV's outstanding coverage online and b) ESPNU didn't like any of the non-HD quality footage from Time Warner Sports. But enjoy--Barry Melrose (awesome to begin with) becomes even more awesome when he declares himself a "Union guy." He offers high praise for our Whitelaw Cup Champion Dutchmen. He also predicted a Boston College-Union final.

    Update: There's higher quality video (not purloined surreptitiously) over at ESPN NY.



    More reaction/analysis/general hysteria from last night's thrilling win over Harvard will be posted soon...for now, enjoy the good vibes from last night (and perhaps nurse that St. Patrick's Day hangover). Oh yeah, we'll post ticket information. Let's see a horde of Union supporters at Bridgeport for the second straight year!

    Related Links

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    WHITELAW CUP CHAMPIONS!

    If everything holds, the Dutchmen will be the third seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Third Seed! They'll play close to home next weekend as the first seed in Bridgeport. The First Seed! Behind only Boston College and Michigan.

    There are no words. What a day for the program; what a day for the Dutchmen!

    So go enjoy the rest of St. Patrick's Day and be sure to toast your Guinness to the Dutchmen! Tune into ESPNU tomorrow at 1:00 for the NCAA selection show.


    The Whitelaw Cup!


    Courtesy Adriano Manocchia









    UHB Founder Dan Greene with the Whitelaw. Lucky...


    Union 6-Colgate 2: Bring on the Crimson!

    Last night, both Union an Colgate played to their strengths: Union took advantage of power plays and generally played shut down defense. It was what Coach Bennett might have called quintessential Union Hockey. Daniel Carr opened the scoring only 1:35 into the frame. Josh Jooris, who would later add the back breaking third goal, fed Carr. While Union appeared over anxious within the first few minutes (not unlike the first game of the ECAC Quarterfinals agains RPI), they settled in fast. Aided by a quick lead, Union was able to gain their composure. Lost in Union's offensive explosion was their defensive poise. The defensive corps shut down Colgate's two most potent weapons--Chris Wagner and Hobey Baker contender Austin Smith. Although the two picked up assists on Joe Wilson's goal early in the second that brought Colgate within one, that would be it. Wagner, section Q's archenemy, was stymied by a stellar Troy Grosenick. Union's first Hobey Baker finalist added another notch in his belt with a brilliant breakaway stop on top of a level-headed, composed performance. Grosenick, perhaps more than any Union goalie in recent memory, is poised beyond his years. While Keith Kinkaid's outstanding 2010-2012 campaign secured him a pro contract with the New Jersey Devils, even he didn't provide the same level of confidence day in and day out that Grosenick has.

    Max Novak, who has showed he has a future as a sniper ahead of him, continued his well rounded freshman campaign with a beautiful goal that sizzled over Mihalik's left shoulder to make it 2-0. After Jooris' power play tally pushed Union ahead 3-1 in the second, they never looked back.

    Daniel Carr sounded the death knell for Colgate with a short handed goal, Union's fourth and his second. Jeremy Welsh added the fifth goal, passing Mario Valery-Trabucco as the single season scoring leader in the Division I era.

    Colgate answered as Matt Firman deked his way past Grosenick on a breakaway to push the Raiders within three. But Defenseman Shawn Stuart scored on a slap shot from the high slot to ice the game, beating Colgate's backup Alex Evin, who had replaced Mihalik. Jooris picked up an assist for his third point of the night.

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Let's Forget Last Year

    150

    As the suddenly award-heavy Dutchmen take on the the Colgate Raiders in the ECAC Semifinals, they face more than just the best player in the ECAC (and perhaps in all of college hockey). Austin Smith's senior year has been one to remember. After securing the ECAC Player of the Year award last night, Smith is entrenched as a heavy Hobey Baker Award favorite. With an astounding 56 points in only 37 games (36g/20a), Smith leads a powerful, hungry Colgate crew.

    Stored not especially deep in the collective memory of Dutchmen fans is last year's upset in the ECAC Quarterfinals. After the most successful season in their history--and on the heels of the program's first Cleary Cup--Union faced Colgate in a best of three series at Messa Rink. Colgate had been predicted to excel, but fell flat during the regular season, posting a meager 11-28-3 record overall. Much of that changed that weekend at Messa Rink.

    My mind returns to that final game like a skipping record. It wasn't so much Colgate's overtime winner that deflated the crowd at Messa Rink. Nor was it shoddy officiating. It was Chris Wagner taunting the student section following Colgate's win. As the Colgate forward saluted Section Q, which had been loud all game, boos cascaded down. But even making veiled threats toward Wagner or official Bryan Hicks couldn't satisfy an altogether despondent campus. People told Union fans to "look for the silver lining." I couldn't get the bad taste out of my mouth.

    Post-Colgate, the program continued to surpass expectations. Following the program's first Division I appearance in the NCAA tournament, a loss to the eventual champions, Minnesota-Duluth, Union hasn't looked back. Playing an outdoor game at Fenway Park, beating Michigan on their home ice, sweeping RPI in the ECAC quarterfinals, boasting a Hobey Baker Award finalist(!), 2011-2012 has been a remarkable campaign. But that bad taste still lingers. Colgate's tremendous upset--capped by Wagner's salute--is indelibly etched in the minds of the fans and the players.

    On the flip side, the Raiders fulfilled the premonitions of regular-season success that last year's team should have. Buoyed by Smith and Wagner (17g/33a), Colgate's high powered offense amounts to exciting hockey. It also amounts to a great deal of consternation for Union fans.

    Regardless of last year's results, today's contest has all the makings of a tremendous affair. This is a part of the beauty--and trickiness of hockey. As any goaltender will tell you, forgetting the past is paramount to success.

    Remember, you can watch today's game online here for $9.95. I'd say it's worth it.
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    Game Time: Colgate Vs. Union-ECAC Semifinals

    Our own Evan Slavit's view from the stands
    Union
    15 Matt Hatch - 19 Kelly Zajac (A) - 21 Wayne Simpson
    9 Daniel Carr - 27 Jeremy Welsh (A) - 7 Josh Jooris
    16 Kevin Sullivan - 12 Kyle Bodie - 17 Daniel Ciampini
    23 Cole Ikkala - 18 Max Novak - 11 Sam Coatta

    22 Mat Bodie - 28 Shawn Stuart
    2 Nolan Julseth-White (C) - 3 Ryan Forgaard
    14 Shayne Gostisbehere - 20 Greg Coburn

    1 Troy Grosenick
    30 Colin Stevens
    31 Dillon Pieri
    *Award winners demarcated by italics. 


    Colgate


    Lineups to come.


    Game Notes, Etc. 



    Follow Along

    Union Takes The Ice, via Ken Schott.
    • Remember, you can watch the game online here for $10. 
    • You can also listen to the game through the radio broadcast online here
    • Eschew the computer and listen on real radio: 1160 WABY or 1240 WKVZ.
    • Follow Ken Schott, Colgate Athletics, Union Athletics.
    • Get your live stats here!
    • There's a live blog going on over at USCHO.com, so check that out.



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    Union's Shiny New Hardware

    From Atlantic City last night, we were treated to quite a show.


    Shayne Gostisbehere - All ECAC Rookie
    Kelly Zajac - All ECAC 3rd Team; Best Defensive Forward
    Jeremy Welsh - All ECAC 2nd Team
    Mat Bodie - All ECAC 1st Team
    Troy Grosenick - All ECAC 1st Team; Ken Dryden Award (Best ECAC goalie); Hobey Baker Award Finalist (vote early, vote often)
    Rick Bennett - Tim Taylor Award (ECAC coach of the year)


    Congratulations, Union Hockey.
    Reactions and more on the way.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Dutchmen Details: TV Coverage? Fuhgeddaboudit.

    • Union moves up to #6 in both the USCHO.com and USA Today polls. 
    • Union remains at #2 in the INCH rankings, sandwiched between #1 Boston College and #3 Minnesota. INCH has this to say about the Dutchmen:
    After suffering a first-round upset as the top seed in the quarterfinal round last year, the Dutchmen left little doubt this time around. Union trailed for less than six minutes the entire weekend and swept RPI.
    Senior Molly Kate Devin
    • The Dutchwomen visited Van Corlaer Elementary school, where they answered questions from students about the rigors of being student-athletes before playing a game of floor hockey. What I'd like to know: can Union install intramural floor hockey? I hear Kate Gallagher has some garnet and white Mylec floor hockey pads just in case...
    • In case you missed it, Andy Stinchfield (of club hockey notoriety) published a piece in the Concordiensis about the Dutchwomen. 
    • With a dearth of deals at the NHL trade deadline, a college free agent could be a nice boost for a team looking to add a good player at the right time. Or to build for the future. NHL.com has a list of NCAA free agents who might have those in the pro ranks salivating. Kelly Zajac and Troy Grosenick make the list. Brian O'Neill of Yale is the only other ECACer on the list. Don't be surprised if Jeremy Welsh gets some serious looks, either. We'll touch more on this later in the week.
    • As always, the Official Blog of Union Hockey has some pertinent information and interesting stats.
    • Vote on the Times Union's poll on where Union will end up Atlantic City. Too bad "teach Sam Coatta to count cards" isn't an option.
    • grosenick
      This photo comes up when you search "Grosenick," for some reason. 
    • Don't expect Coach Bennett's squad to coast into Atlantic City, especially given the volatile nature of the NCAA selection process. From USCHO's ECAC Blog:
    ...This is to say that there are scenarios out there (play with them yourself!) that have the Dutchmen and Big Red on the wrong side of the bubble, should either fail to win the Whitelaw Cup. That may seem remarkable given Union’s current status as D-I’s sixth-ranked team in the PWR, but such is the case. 
    Not surprisingly, Harvard and Colgate – each ranking in the low 20′s – will probably need to win the title in order to gain entry to the national tourney.
    • Troy Grosenick was named a finalist for the ECAC Goaltender of the Year Award, aptly named after Ken Dryden. Last year, Keith Kinkaid won the Ken Dryden award. Let's compare their stats:
      • Kinkaid (2010-2011) 38 GP; 3 SO; 1.99 GAA; .920 SV%
      • Grosenick (2011-2012) 29 GP; 2 SO; 1.66 GAA; .936 SV%
      • The major discrepancy here is the games played--if Troy had not missed time due to a nagging lower body injury, those numbers would most likely be more even. Now, let's take a look at the other goalies nominated for this year's Dryden Award, Cornell's Andy Iles and Clarkson's Paul Karpowich:
      • Iles: 31 GP; 2 SO; 2.08 GAA; .920 SV%
      • Karpowich: 37 GP; 5 SO; 2.46 GAA; .921 SV%
    • It turns out that the ECAC championships will not be covered on network TV--the only such league championship series that is being left off the air. At the very least, fans of the four teams can kvetch together. 
    • But it looks like RPI's TV station will be there. You'll have to pay to watch, but you probably would have had to do that anyway. Kudos to those Rensselaer-ians for keeping everyone in the loop. Stay tuned (pun intended) for more news on this.
    Around the NCAA
    • We haven't mentioned it here yet, but best of luck to Joe Marsh, who recently retired from his post as St. Lawrence head coach. Marsh's 26 year stint as head coach is impressive enough, but he was one of the true gentleman of the game. Best of luck to him in retirement and to St. Lawrence in the future. It will be strange to see the Saints come to town without him behind the bench.
    • Minnesota-Duluth, reigning champs, purveyors of bleach blond hair and victors over Union in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, get some press in the New York Times.
    • If you haven't already, be sure to check out the work of Luke Devoe over at From The NIP to the Bank, the excellent Quinnipiac Blog. While you're at it, follow the equally excellent RPI blog, Without a Peer. While we're at it, keep the page hits coming for Dan's brilliant ECAC blog. 
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    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Dutchmen Details: Monopoly Mania

    Kevin Sullivan: Two Goal Kinda Kid

    • Honorable mention goes to Brian Yanovitch, who breathes a collective sigh of relief with most of the senior class:
              cya thesis #niceknowinya #notreally
              --Brian Yanovitch (@BYans26) 

    College Hockey Video of the Week: Big Red, Frozen Four

    When two teams wearing Red Wings home and away sweaters Cornell and Boston University faced off earlier on Saturday night, few expected the final score to be 8-7. Even fewer expected a thrilling 3OT affair. But who expected Lauriane Rougeau to pull a Mario Lemieux?

    Then this happened:




    Congratulations to Cornell, who is heading to the Frozen Four. On March 16th, Cornell will play Minnesota and Wisconsin will play Boston College.

    The Dutchwomen were 0-2 this year against Cornell and 0-1 against Boston University.
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    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    To Atlantic City

    I know nothing has technically been won. I know that if they lose Friday in Atlantic City, this win will mean very little. Still, I can't help but be excited.

    As I walked out of Messa last night, I couldn't help but remember the scene from just a season before. I remember the buzzer going off as Colgate scored the winning goal in overtime. I remember jumping up and down with the rest of the student section seconds earlier, still convinced Union would pull out the win. I remember, vividly, Chris Wagner waving at us, taunting us. I remember that feeling.

    So, again, while they still have to win two games to get the Whitelaw trophy, I can't help but be excited.

    Another thing that kind of hit me as I was leaving the rink, was how the players reacted. They celebrated and seemed happy with the victory, but they all seemed to remain focused.

    Two and three years ago, when Union won their home playoff series, the players went nuts. They were jumping into the boards, diving on top of each other, screaming, and pumping their fists. There was an overwhelming sense of joy. There wasn't that feeling this year.

    In a weird way, that is just another illustration of how far this program is coming. These players aren't excited by one series, they want to win it all.

    You get the same sense from them when they talk about the Cleary Cup. They will gladly admit it was a great accomplishment, but they will instantly follow that up by saying it is just one of the three trophies they are looking to win.

    The tempered celebration shows that the players have fully bought that. A quarterfinal win isn't enough for these guys. They want, and expect, to win the Whitelaw trophy next week. Ditto for the Frozen Four in April.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    Atlantic City

    Our friend Ryan suggests this as an appropriate song for tonight's 4-2 win that advanced Union to the ECAC semifinals.


    Second Intermission Thoughts

    RPI does not want to go easy.

    Down 2-0 and 40 minutes from elimination, RPI fought hard to get back into the game.

    RPI was able to take advantage of their opportunities this period tallying an even strength goal, and scoring on the one power play chance they had in the period.

    The good news for Union: they still managed to head into the locker room with a lead. With less than three minutes in the period Kevin Sullivan tallied his first goal of the series off a nice backhander.

    So the score at the end of 2 is 3-2 Union.

    Some Stats:
    -Union outshot RPI by a modest amount (11-to-9)
    -Union also won the faceoff battle 13-to-7
    -RPI was 1-for-1 on the power play in the period, and Union was 0-for-1

    And then there is this:
    RPI is 0-15-1 when trailing after 2

    First Intermission Thoughts

    At the end of the first, Union leads 2-0.

    Despite what the score says, this was a pretty even period for the two rivals. They both had seven shots in the period, and the faceoff tilt was a pretty even 12-to-10 in Union's favor.

    The difference was Union took advantage of its opportunities. Awarded a power play in the first, Union took very little time to score. Kyle Bodie got the goal for Union, giving Union at least one power play goal in every game they have played against the Engineers.

    The second goal was an even strength tally for the Dutchmen. Jeremy Welsh scored the goal after a beautiful feed from Daniel Carr. The goal gives Welsh 23 goals on the season, which ties him with Mario Valery-Trabucco for most single-season goals in Union's Division-I history.

    Here are a few numbers to chew on as we enter the second period:
    RPI is 1-21-3 when allowing more than a goal
    RPI is 0-12-1 when trailing after 1

    LET'S GO!

    Game Time: Union vs. RPI: Quarter Finals Game 2

    It's make or break for RPI tonight--win or go home. Expect a great game tonight at Messa Rink.


    Tonight's Lines:



    Union
    15 Matt Hatch - 19 Kelly Zajac (A) - 21 Wayne Simpson
    9 Daniel Carr - 27 Jeremy Welsh (A) - 7 Josh Jooris
    16 Kevin Sullivan - 12 Kyle Bodie - 29 Trevor Mingoia
    18 Max Novak - 10 Mark Bennett - 11 Sam Coatta

    22 Mat Bodie - 28 Shawn Stuart
    2 Nolan Julseth-White (C) - 3 Ryan Forgaard
    14 Shayne Gostisbehere - 20 Greg Coburn

    1 Troy Grosenick
    30 Colin Stevens
    31 Dillon Pieri

    RPI
    22 CJ Lee - 21 Mark McGowan - 27 Marty O'Grady
                               Low Res Image RPI Puckman Logo

    19 Patrick Cullen - 23 Brock Higgs - 28 Matt Tinordi
    9 Matt Neal - 15 Jacob Laliberte - 39 Ryan Haggerty
    18 Alex Angers-Goulet (A) - 13 Joel Malchuk (C) - 12 Johnny Rogic

    10 Curtis Leonard - 8 Mike Bergin (C)
    3 Guy Leboeuf - 29 Nick Bailen
    5 Luke Curadi - 11 Bo Dolan

    32 Bryce Merriam
    34 Scott Diebold



    More updates to come. 


    Follow Along:

    Union 3-RPI 2: Who Needs Nail Clippers?

    Greg Coburn, Natural Born Killer.
    It's sometimes easy to forget that Rick Bennett, well, was this Rick Bennett. Despite the facial cues that are a reminder of his days as a hockey player, you'd be hard pressed to label him as a traditional coach. He is soft spoken and the owner of a demeanor that is nothing if not reassuring.

    Not on Friday night.

    On the heels of Union's nailbiting win over rival RPI in game one of the ECAC quarterfinals, Bennett entered the Garnet Room in the bowels of Messa Rink. He strode in with a purpose.

    Although Union's consistently level-headed coach praised his team's quick rebound following an RPI goal only 42 seconds into regulation, he told the gaggle of reporters:


    “That was a team that looked very rusty. That looked like a team that was still at the library...We calmed down a little bit, and played pretty good hockey. But we just didn’t bring it fully.”


    But just as quickly, Bennett regained his trademark composure. He heaped praise on RPI's effort--Head Coach Seth Appert said that his team needed to win more puck battles to beat the Dutchmen--while critiquing his own squad. Union was a team--not unlike RPI--that appeared to have firecrackers attached to their skates. As a physical game progressed, Union appeared to be a tad too excited. Bennett attributed the overzealousness that led to uncharacteristic penalties to the bye week. The Dutchmen had to temper their game, and quickly settled in. 


    But not to be outdone, RPI came out flying in the second period. Evidently energized after a very controversial Greg Coburn goal, the Engineers showed why the discrepancy between #1 and #10 in the ECAC playoff seeding can be marginalized within seconds. Although just falling short, the nailbiter at Messa on Friday proved not only that the Engineers can --and should be-- a legitimate playoff threat, but that the schizophrenia of the ECAC playoffs may already be in full swing.


    So prepare for more warring chants, more dueling pep-bands, and at least one more game of some of the most exciting hockey you'll see all year. Let's hope that Messa Rink can withstand the palpable (and sometimes frightening) energy that quite literally rattled its floorboards last night.
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    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Post Game Videos: 3/9/12

    Following Union's 3-2 nailbiting win in game one of the ECAC quarterfinals, both sides react.

    Bryce Merriam, C.J. Lee, Head Coach Seth Appert, and Alex Angers-Goulet talk to the media:



    Greg Coburn, Max Novak, Kelly Zajac and Troy Grosenick talk to the media:



    Rick Bennett talks to the media following the game:

    Second Intermission Thoughts

    RPI battled back in the second, but it didn't show on the scoreboard. At the end of the second Union had the 3-1 advantage

    Union took advantage of the power play they had to start the period, with Coburn stuffing the puck in right before the official whistled the play dead.

    With the goal, Union has now scored two power play goals in three of the four games they have played RPI this season.

    There was another power play opportunity in the second that Union couldn't capitalize on, but 2-for-3 is still pretty darn good.

    Troy Grosenick had a good period as well. RPI outshot Union 12 to 10 in the period, but thanks to some nice stops by Grosenick, they didn't tally a single goal.

    Union is 19-0-3 when leading after two. A good sign going into the third...knock on wood.

    First Intermission Thoughts

    Like a bunch of crazed dogs. That is the only way I can describe the play of the Dutchmen tonight. From the second the puck dropped they have been flying all over the place.

    The excitement might have gotten the better of them to start the game. They took two penalties within the first five minutes of the game, something uncharacteristic of this usually disciplined team. They more than made up for it, though, outshooting RPI 13-6, and outscoring them 2-1.

    Union only had one power play opportunity in the period (the second penalty came with seven seconds left in the frame), but scored mere seconds into the opportunity (nine to be exact). Kelly Zajac made a great play to set up the scoring chance. While being checked, Zajac was able to keep his balance and get off a beautiful pass to Kyle Bodie, who set up Wayne Simpson for a shot in the slot.

    The other goal in the period came earlier, when Max Novak took the puck into RPI's zone, beat his defender, and shot the puck in past Bryce Merriam.

    The crowd has been outstanding tonight too. The place is packed with both RPI and Union fans. Both sides are really into it, and it honestly has felt like the building has shook at certain points.

    In the second, Union will start with 1:53 left in their power play. If they keep up the intensity, they should not only win their game today, but they'd have a good chance of taking home the Whitelaw trophy in a week as well.

    LET'S GO!

    Game Time: RPI vs. Union: Quarter Finals Game 1

    Union
    15 Matt Hatch - 19 Kelly Zajac (A) - 21 Wayne Simpson  
    16 Kevin Sullivan - 12 Kyle Bodie - 17 Daniel Ciampini
    9 Daniel Carr - 27 Jeremy Welsh (A) - 7 Josh Jooris
    23 Cole Ikkala - 18 Max Novak - 11 Sam Coatta

    22 Mat Bodie - 28 Shawn Stuart
    2 Nolan Julseth-White (C) - 3 Ryan Forgaard
    14 Shayne Gostisbehere - 20 Greg Coburn

    1 Troy Grosenick
    30 Colin Stevens
    31 Dillon Pieri

    RPI
    22 CJ Lee - 21 Mark McGowan - 27 Marty O'Grady
    Low Res Image RPI Puckman Logo

    19 Patrick Cullen - 23 Brock Higgs - 28 Matt Tinordi
    9 Matt Neal - 15 Jacob Laliberte - 39 Ryan Haggerty
    18 Alex Angers-Goulet (A) - 13 Joel Malchuk (C) - 12 Johnny Rogic

    10 Curtis Leonard - 8 Mike Bergin (C)
    3 Guy Leboeuf - 29 Nick Bailen
    5 Luke Curadi - 11 Bo Dolan

    32 Bryce Merriam
    34 Scott Diebold

    Union Game Notes

    • The Student section is full as of 6:25. Expect them to be loud tonight. The Nott Noisemakers are behind them. 
    • Sean Martin of the Times Union has a nice piece here.
    • So does Ken Schott, of the Gazette.
    • Union wears their black alts.


    RPI Game Notes

    Follow Along

    • As always, follow us on Twitter.
    • Also be sure to check out Dan's fantastic 1989 and Still Waiting--he's consistently got some great stuff.
    • The game will be televised locally on Time Warner Sports, channel 3. 

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