March 7, 2006 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Longest Ever ...

by Ken Schott/Special to CHN

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — There were a wide range of emotions felt by the Union players as Game 2 of their ECAC tournament first-round series with Yale went on into the early hours of Sunday morning.

There was concern. Already down, 1-0, in the best-of-3 series, the Dutchmen knew that a loss would end their season.

After the third period ended tied, 2-2, there was nervousness. One mistake, and Union's season could be over, or one great Dutchmen play, and the series would be extended to a third game.

The nervousness then gave way to giddiness. No one could believe that this game was making history.

The final emotion was sudden sadness. At 1:10 a.m., six hours, 10 minutes after the opening faceoff, Union's season came to an end.

David Meckler redirected a Zach Mayer shot 1:35 into the fifth overtime for a shorthanded goal, giving the 11th-seeded Bulldogs a 3-2 victory over the No. 6 Dutchmen at Messa Rink.

"Tiredness has taken away a bit of the visible sadness," said Union senior forward Jason Visser, whose power-play goal with 8:01 left in the third period tied the score, and sent the game on and on. "Obviously, everyone's upset to end the season here. We wanted to keep going."

At 141 minutes, 35 seconds, the game became the longest played in NCAA men's hockey history. The old record was 129:30, set March 8, 1997, when Colorado College beat Wisconsin, 1-0, in Game 2 of the WCHA tournament first-round series.

It was also a record for the longest game played in the ECAC, and in both programs' history.

"That was one for the ages, right there," Yale coach Tim Taylor said. "It was a battle of guts, will and character for Union just as much as us."

It was Union's fifth straight playoff OT game. The Dutchmen played three OT games in last year's first-round series with Clarkson. Union lost Friday's game to Yale, 2-1, in one OT.

But no one could have foreseen what was going to happen when referee Peter Feola dropped the puck to start the game at 7 p.m. Saturday.

"After the first couple of overtimes, there's nothing you can do but just start joking around and try to have fun out there, because that's what the game is about," Union co-captain Scott Seney said. "It's good to see in the locker room that the guys could still be loose and have fun.

"When you go into the third period and the first overtime, there's a lot of nervous energy. Everyone's excited, but you're still gripping the sticks tight. By the end, it was organized pond hockey, almost. Everyone was just having fun, and not trying to make a mistake."

The goalies were excellent in the OT periods. Union's Kris Mayotte made 35 of his 58 saves in OT, while Yale's Alec Richards stopped 28.

The Dutchmen survived a five-minute power play that carried from the third OT to the fourth when Torren Delforte was ejected for a major hitting-from-behind penalty.

Union got a power play 1:15 into the fifth OT when Joe Zappala was called for hooking. But 20 seconds later, Meckler scored, setting off a wild celebration for the Bulldogs, while the Dutchmen sat in stunned silence.

"It was just a battle," Seney said. "Both teams left everything out on the ice. It felt like a game that could go on all night. It ended the wrong way for us, unfortunately."

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