Union Overwhelmed BC With Special Team, Mobile Defense
by Jill Saftel/CHN Reporter
PROVIDENCE, R.I. Union's power play wasn't that good heading into the East Regional. In fact, at 1-for-13 in as many chances, it was actually pretty bad.
But the Dutchmen scored three power-play goals Saturday night in their dominant 5-1 win over Boston College, one in each period — from Josh Jooris, Shayne Gostisbehere and Daniel Ciampini. There was nothing dramatically different about Union's power play here, but the team was long overdue for some success on the man advantage.
"Going into it, we were 1-for-13, so we needed some work there, and we got some puck luck tonight there," head coach Rick Bennett said.
And as if its three successful power plays, 3-for-7 on the night, weren't impressive enough, Union had more in their special teams bag of tricks: a penalty kill that shut BC down on all seven of its power-play opportunities. The Dutchmen were always in the right place at the right time on the PK, screening shots and completely eliminating offensive chances for the Eagles. Senior defenseman Greg Coburn probably saw the most ice time on the PK and he was, well, killer. In their seven chances, three shots was the most the Eagles could muster in a single power play, and that was during their last of the game at 17:32 in the final period.
Union held the Eagles to zero shots in two of their power plays, with two shots on one and a single shot on the other three chances.
"At times it wasn't pretty, they got some great players over there," junior defenseman Mat Bodie said. "They had us running around. I thought Troy [Grosenick] did a great job of smothering a lot of pucks on the power play. Our team, we were eating pucks out there with guys blocking shots and just wearing our hearts on our sleeves.
"We're just going to continue to do that, get in the shooting lanes. I thought it was just a good job executing on the penalty kill."
Union's game plan for special teams was executed so well thanks in part to its coaching. Bodie credited assistant coach Joe Dumais with excellent scouting of BC. The team's entire coaching staff has a hand in its special teams, and it's working.
"Our PK, Joe Dumais and Jason Tapp do an excellent job of getting these guys prepared for what's ahead," Bennett said. "And the power play, our volunteer assistant Joel Beal basically runs it and does a phenomenal job as well."
In terms of a game plan, they stuck with what worked against Yale in their 5-0 ECAC semifinal win. Using that as a building block, Bennett said Yale was a great test for his team, while knowing this Boston College team could bring it to a different level. So he met the Eagles' transitional offense with transition defense of his own to shut them down.
BC head coach Jerry York took notice, noting Union's mobile defensemen and their ability to both close gaps and open up opportunities. But he said the biggest hole in his Eagles' game was their failure to stop Union's power play. At 1-for-13 headed in, it certainly wasn't an aspect of Union's game at the top of their watch list, yet special teams was a key part of the equation.
That special teams success bought Union a place in Sunday's final game of the East Regional, against ECAC foe Quinnipiac. With Yale already having secured a place in the Frozen Four, regardless of the outcome two ECAC teams will be headed to the Frozen Four since 1983 when Providence and Harvard made the trip.
And that, in and of itself, is pretty special.