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April 10, 2014 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Ejected, Dejected

Union Players Rally Around Hatch After Misconduct

by Avash Kalra/Senior Writer

See all of CHN's Tournament coverage: articles, brackets, history and more.

PHILADELPHIA — With 13 minutes to play in the third period of Thursday’s first national semifinal, with Union holding a 3-2 lead over Boston College at the time, the fans in the Wells Fargo Center stood. And they became loud.

With Boston College about to begin a five-minute major power play, Eagles fans cheered to rally their team – a team with the best offense in the country and a power-play unit that had converted 24 percent of its chances during the season.  Fans of the Dutchmen cheered too, in response, hoping to encourage a team that at the time was less than a period from heading to its first national championship game.

Yes, inside the Wells Fargo Center, for this entertaining semifinal, it was loud.

In the Union locker room, though, it was quiet. Its only occupant was Matt Hatch, the senior forward who had been sent off the ice after committing a checking from behind major penalty, giving Boston College its chance to tie the game. Hatch, a senior who was playing in his 147th game for Union, was left to watch alone from the locker room after his hit along the corner boards on Eagles junior center Michael Sit.

“It all happened so fast, that play,” recounted Hatch. “I was really going in hard in the corner there. He kind of turned, and at that point in time, I couldn’t stop. So I followed through with the hit. He was in a bad position, but it was definitely a penalty.”

Hatch had a four-game point streak entering the Frozen Four, including three goals at the NCAA East Regional last week. Among his teammates, only Matt Bodie and Daniel Carr have worn the Union sweater more often since the fall of 2010.

For the Dutchmen, the details of the penalty kill were that they held Boston College to eight attempted shots, but just three on goal. They did it at a critical time in the third period, while clinging to a one-goal lead. And they followed up the penalty kill with a dramatic goal that came just 22 seconds after the five minute major was killed.

Those are the what, when, and how for the penalty kill that will be long-remembered by fans in Schenectady, N.Y.

But Hatch was the ‘why.’

“When that happened, the team talked on the bench,” said senior captain Mat Bodie. “We said it’s time to bear down. It was an unfortunate play for Matt Hatch, but we’re a family here. He’s one of our brothers, and we didn’t want him to go out that way. We stepped up.”

“The PK was huge, the way they came together,” added the grateful Hatch. “I was able to watch it on the TVs in here, and that’s what Union hockey is all about. The team banded together. Everyone came in here and was talking to me after, telling me to keep my head up and picking me up. That was huge for me, and it’s a staple of our team – sticking together.”

It was Mike Vecchione who scored his 13th goal of his career just moments after Union’s inspired penalty kill. But even the freshman center, after scoring the biggest goal of his career, was more interested in talking about why it all meant so much – with one of their leaders alone in the locker room.

“He brings so much to the table for us,” said Vecchione. “He’s a senior. He’s worked four years to get to this spot. To see him go out like that was really upsetting, so everyone rallied around him. We pretty much did it for him. He’s done so much to get this program to where it is now. When that happened, we shook it off, killed the penalty, and we ended up scoring at the end of it.

“It was a huge moral victory, and I’m glad we did it for him.”

After the game, Hatch sat in a much louder locker room than the one he experienced less than an hour earlier – moments after he was ejected with a game misconduct.

Now, his teammates surrounded him, the same ones who killed a five minute major against one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses. And it wasn’t the what, when, how, or even the who.

It was clearly about the why – Hatch, who now gets the opportunity to play in one final game on Saturday night. For a national championship.

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©2014 Avash Kalra. All Rights Reserved.