Union Shows Old Form
Semifinal Rout Leaves Yale on the Edge
by Joshua Seguin/Staff Writer
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Union had its share of post-Frozen Four-hangover ups and downs this season. But things have come together, and Friday, the Dutchmen appeared to be on the kind of mission they were on last year. The 5-0 trouncing of Yale was arguably Union's best game of the season, and it looked like a team poised for another deep run into spring.
“I thought tonight was a great team effort,” said Union coach Rick Bennett. “We had a great game and (goalie) Troy (Grosenick) kind of settled things down for us when we needed it.”
Of course, it's still possible it will be for naught. Union is still squarely on the NCAA bubble, and a loss to Brown in Saturday's game could leave the Dutchmen on the outside looking in. So there is still work to do.
“We still have segments where we were running around, but I think we got the job done tonight which shows we are maturing,” said Union forward Daniel Carr. “It starts with our captains, as they did a great job tonight settling us from running around a bit.”
Union was picked first in most preseason polls and had the expectations of a team that made the Frozen Four last year. Unfortunately it struggled mightily for consistency and was never able to string a run together. But the Dutchmen won their final two games of the regular season against Clarkson and St. Lawrence, and they haven’t looked back since.
On this night, Union played a complete 60 minute game and did not give Yale a shot of life. An early goal by Wayne Simpson just three minutes into the game gave Union all the life and momentum going forward. It was 2-0 after one, and the backbreaker came 21 seconds into the second period.
“It has been nice to string a few wins together here,” Grosenick said. “We are playing with a lot of confidence but also we are playing relaxed. We are peaking at the right time, but we played a good game tonight.”
In the last three weeks, the Dutchmen have outscored their opponents 23-4 in five wins. It has been a mantra with the team that maybe they are peaking at the right time.
“You go through ups and downs on the season,” said Bennett. “These guys have been resilient and through those peaks and valleys they have learned a lot. The last few weeks have been a byproduct of their hard work.”
Yale, on the other hand, laid an egg, and may need a win now in Saturday's consolation game to make the NCAA tournament. The swings in the Pairwise right now are enough to make a team dizzy. Tomorrow will be very important for the Bulldogs, but they will play a hungry rival Quinnipiac, which had a similar struggle in its semifinal. Both teams will be playing for confidence heading into the national tournament.
“I don’t think we had five grade-A scoring chances tonight,” said Yale coach Keith Allain. “You don’t win many games doing that.”
Defensive breakdowns also plagued the Bulldogs, as turnovers, poor coverages and poor defensive positioning led to almost every Union goal. Getting an all-around better performance heading into the NCAA tournament may be the most important goal for Yale.
“I am surprised at tonight, because I know we are better hockey team than we showed tonight,” said Allain of his team, which dismantled St. Lawrence in two games last week. “I think you have to give Union credit but I know we are going to be better tomorrow.”
“We are playing one of the best teams in the country,” said Yale forward Andrew Miller. “They are also a team that is 15 minutes from our school. It will be a big game for us and a big game for them and we will try to get a win.”