Union Wins National Championship
Dutchmen Claim First Title
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA For the first time in its history, Union has won the national championship.
Built on the back of its shutdown defense all season, the Dutchmen exploded for seven goals in the title game, beating top-seeded Minnesota, 7-4, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
"It's unbelievable the growth this program has taken over the past probably eight year," Union senior Mat Bodie said. "I've only been here for four of them, but those championships for anyone that's ever had a hand in Union hockey because we wouldn't be here without all those players before us. We learned a lot from them, and they broke us into college hockey, and we're forever grateful for that."
Just 2:37 into the game the Gophers took a 1-0 lead. Nate Condon took a high shot on the rush that Colin Stevens was able to save with his glove up near his chest, but he couldn’t hang on to it, and as it trickled out of his glove Minnesota freshman Justin Kloos was able to get his stick on it and sweep it into the net.
The play was reviewed to determine if there was a man in the crease, or if Kloos had actually kicked the puck, but he made a strong play to keep his stick near his right skate.
Shane Gostisbehere tied the score just under eight minutes later. Carrying the puck through the neutral zone, he entered the zone and stickhandled through three Gopher defenders before firing a wrist shot from the slot that beat Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox on the glove side.
That’s started some rapid-fire goals.
Just 37 seconds after Gostisbehere tied the score, Minnesota reclaimed the lead. Kyle Rau attempted a wraparound that flew across the top of the crease and over to Sam Warning who was practically on the goal line. Warning immediately threw the puck back on goal and it appeared to deflect off a Union defenseman in front before finding space past Stevens.
After a short break, Union would score three goals in 1:54 span near the end of the period.
First, Mike Vecchione tied the game at 2-2 on the seventh shot attempt out of a scrum. Wilcox was sprawled to the ice and Rau had been playing the role of a makeshift goalie as the Dutchmen were finding chance after chance before Vecchione buried the puck between Rau and Wilcox.
“We stay calm," Vecchione said. "You saw it in the BC game. We went down really early. Whenever we go down, we just stick to our system. That’s just Union hockey. I think they came out flying and just like the BC game we came out a little flat-footed and they scored first but, like I said, the bench stays calm."
Exactly 57 seconds later Eli Lichtenwald gave the Dutchmen a lead they would never relinquish. After catching a sharp feed from Gostisbehere, Lichtenwald charged the net and snapped a shot that Wilcox was able to stop with his left pad. The rebound found its way back on Lichtenwald’s stick, however, and he beared down on the puck and lifted it over Wilcox, who had fallen to his stomach after making the initial save.
After another 57 seconds ticked off the clock, Union added to its lead. A shot from the point sailed wide off the lively Wells Fargo Center backboards. After collecting the puck Matt Hatch’s shot was blocked, Max Novak’s rebound attempt was stopped by Wilcox but Daniel Ciampini was about to score his fourth goal of the Frozen Four on the second rebound attempt.
"I think that's been a staple of our team all year that we come in ways," Bodie said. "You really felt that at the end of the first there. I thought we really carried the play for a stretch of time there. All three of those goals were pack of wolves goals where guys were on net, and second and third chances. I think that's probably one of the biggest staples of our team all year."
Minnesota cut the deficit to 4-3 at the 1:07 mark of the second period. Taylor Cammarata whacked at a loose puck in front that Stevens stopped with his pad, but Cammarata was able to corral his own rebound and lift the puck over Stevens’ left pad.
Union added to its lead at the 5:31 mark of the third period. Novak crossed the blue line and flipped a backhand pass to linemate Kevin Sullivan, who sent a low line-drive to the front of the net that Novak was able to tip with the back of his stick blade past Wilcox.
The Gophers again cut the deficit to one goal with 3:40 remaining in the third period. On the power play with Union’s Charlie Vasaturo on the box for roughing, Kyle Rau had the puck on the right side of the umbrella. He slid it to the middle man, Mike Reilly, who then setup the left-side forward, Travis Boyd, for a one-timer. Stevens was able to make the save on Boyd’s shot, but he wasn’t able to hang on to the puck. As it dropped to the ice, the net-front forward, Hudson Fasching, was able to punch it past Stevens.
"I definitely thought if I got to a 6-on-5 situation I was confident we could put something in in the last minute," Boyd said.
But the Dutchmen weren’t going to stand for any late-game heroics.
After Gostisbehere made a spectacular block, Mat Bodie flipped the loose puck to the middle of the ice where Kevin Sullivan carried it into the zone and beat Wilcox five-hole to make it 6-4.
Bodie added an empty-net goal with 44.2 left.
“It was amazing," Union defenseman Sebastien Gingras said. "I love the guys so much. We have such a great group of guys and we have guys who really want to make it and make it for this program. It’s just great to know these seniors were rewarded and that these guys were rewarded."