CARS HOMES JOBS

Taste of Frozen Four has Union back looking for more (with player profiles, video)

Friday, October 5, 2012
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Union goalie Troy Grosenick blocks a shot at goal by Michigan State during the NCAA East Regional last March in Bridgeport, Conn.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
Union goalie Troy Grosenick blocks a shot at goal by Michigan State during the NCAA East Regional last March in Bridgeport, Conn.

— The 2011-12 college hockey season was memorable for Union College.

The Dutchmen won their second straight ECAC Hockey regular-season title, captured their first ECACH tournament championship and went on to win the NCAA tournament East Regional championship and earn a berth in the Frozen Four. Numerous individual honors were won by the players.

So, what will the Dutchmen do for an encore this season?

They open their 22nd NCAA Division I campaign Saturday when they host Merrimack at 7 p.m. at Messa Rink.

While the Dutchmen accomplished a lot, second-year head coach Rick Bennett knows there is one thing missing — an NCAA title. The Dutchmen dropped a 3-1 decision to Ferris State in the Frozen Four semifinals.

“We met four of our five goals,” said Bennett, who guided the Dutchmen to a 26-8-7 record and won the Tim Taylor Award as ECACH coach of the year. “The last one, obviously, down in Tampa Bay wasn’t the outcome we desired. For us, we realized actually how far we were away. I know it’s only two games, but it was kind of a slap in the face because you’re there, but you’re really not.”

As a result, there is no reason for the Dutchmen to be complacent this year. The goals are the same: win a third straight another ECACH regular-season title — something that hasn’t been done sine Harvard from 1992-94 — capture a second consecutive ECACH tournament championship, win another NCAA tournament regional title and not only get to the Frozen Four again, but also bring home the trophy.

The Dutchmen can’t afford to relax because they have a target on their backs after being selected to win the league by the coaches and media in the preseason polls. Union is ranked fifth in the USCHO.com/NCAA

top-20 and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top-15 polls.

“If you really want to avoid com­placency, that comes from the coaching staff on down,” Bennett said. “It’s holding those guys accountable every practice. It isn’t just every game, it’s every practice, every day. If you want to get better than you were last year, then that will curb complacency pretty quickly.”

And junior goalie Troy Grosenick said the coaching staff does a good job of keeping the team grounded.

“There’s a quote that says complacency is the nemesis of greatness,” Grosenick said. “Coach Bennett does a really good job of making sure we don’t get complacent, but a lot of it is the character in the locker room. A lot of guys are battling for lineup spots, and they’re going to be pushing the guys who were established last year. It’s great to have that competition on the team.”

SOLID DEFENSE

The Dutchmen, who led the nation in scoring defense last year with an average of 1.83 goals allowed per game, should be strong defensively again this season.

It starts in goal with Grosenick. In his first season as the No. 1 goalie last year, Grosenick posted a 22-6-3 record with a 1.65 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage and five shutouts. He was named the Ken Dryden Award winner as the ECACH’s top goalie after going 11-3-1 with a 1.60 GAA, a .940 save percentage and four shutouts. Grosenick was also a first-team All-ECACH, a first-team All-America and was the Dutchmen’s first-ever Hobey Baker Award top-10 finalist.

When Grosenick missed some games because of injury, Colin Stevens admir­ably filled in. Stevens, a Niskayuna native, was 4-2-4 with a 2.25 GAA and a .913 save percentage.

The defensive unit is strong. It is led by junior Mat Bodie, who was a first-team All-ECACH pick and a second-team All-America selection after collecting eight goals and 21 assists in 39 games last season.

Sophomore Shayne Gostisbehere had an impressive first year with five goals and 17 assists in 41 games. He made the ECACH All-Rookie team. Gostisbehere was selected in the third round of June’s NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, and then played well at the U.S. Development Camp in early August in Lake Placid to give him a chance at making Team USA for the World Junior Championships later this year.

Joining them will be seniors Greg Coburn, Shawn Stuart and Ryan Forgaard. Coburn had five goals and 10 assists in 40 games. Stuart had a goal nine assists, but more impressively, had just four penalty minutes in 41 games. Forgaard had two assists in 20 games.

Also back is sophomore Charlie Vas­aturo, who appeared in 12 games.

“It’s nice to have six guys back there that have played here,” Bennett said. “It’s nice to have an All-America back there, a guy who is back there and all that fun stuff. Ultimately, and the same with Troy, they have to realize it’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be a target on them from the other teams.”

Two players who could make an impact on defense are freshmen Tim Boyle and Sebastien Gingras.

Boyle had nine goals and 37 assists in 53 career games at Noble and Greenough prep school. He was selected in the fourth round (106th overall) by the Ottawa Senators in the NHL draft.

Gingras was the Brockville Braves’ top defensive scorer with 12 goals and 31 assists. He had 17 power-play points for the Central Canada Hockey League club. He’s a right-handed shot, something Union didn’t have on its power play.

OFFENSIVE QUESTIONS

The big question mark surrounding the Dutchmen is their forwards and the offensive attack. They lost their top two scorers in Jeremy Welsh and Kelly Zajac.

Welsh, who had 27 goals and 17 assists, gave up his senior season when he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes shortly after the Dutchmen’s Frozen Four semifinal loss to Ferris State. Zajac graduated after collecting eight goals and 34 assists.

But the Dutchmen aren’t exactly hurting. The team’s No. 2 and 3 goal scorers return. Junior Daniel Carr had his second straight 20-goal season last year, while senior Wayne Simpson had a career-high 18.

After getting just 22 points in his first two seasons, senior Kyle Bodie had a career-best 30 points last year. Junior Josh Jooris, who struggled early and dealt with a couple of injuries, had a strong second half and finished with eight goals and 20 assists.

“It was the same thing as last year going into the season about our goaltending. It’s up front now,” Bennett said. “Hopefully, it’ll be a pleasant surprise like the goaltending was last year. There’s our hurdle right there — can our depth up front chip in to replace those 30-something goals from Kelly and Jeremy?”

Returning players who will be expected to pick up their games include juniors Matt Hatch (7-10-17), Kevin Sullivan (6-7-13) and Cole Ikkala (2-3-5), and sophomores Max Novak (9-5-14), Sam Coatta (3-5-8), Daniel Ciampini and Trevor Mingoia (3-3-6 each) and Mark Bennett (1-3-4).

“We’re losing two key components in Welsh and ‘Zaj,’ ” Jooris said. “But it was a four-line team last year. You saw that in the playoffs. All lines, from the fourth line to the first line, they all stepped up.”

A couple of freshmen could make an impact.

Matt Wilkins of the Brooks Bandits led the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s in scoring with 34 goals and 65 assists, and was a finalist for league MVP. In his two years with the Bandits, Wilkins had 64 goals and 122 assists. He scored 28 career power-play goals.

David Roy of the Central Canada Hockey League’s Brockville Braves was the team’s second-leading scorer last season with 32 goals and 37 assists. Roy led the Braves in power-play goals (12), power-play points (19) and short-handed goals (three).

PLAYER PROFILES

1 Troy Grosenick (Goalie)

PERSONAL: 23 years old, 6-1, 190 pounds, catches left. HOMETOWN: Brookfield, Wis. CLASS: Junior. MAJOR: Managerial Econ­omics.

Grosenick had an incredible sophomore season. He posted a 22-6-3 record with a team-record 1.65 goals-against average, which ranked second in the country, a .936 save percentage and five shutouts. In ECAC Hockey play, Grosenick was 11-3-1 and led the conference with a 1.60 GAA and a .940 save percentage. Grosenick was named the Ken Dryden Award winner as the league’s best goalie. He was also named first-team All-ECACH, and was named to the ECACH and NCAA East Region tournament teams. He was also a Hobey Baker top-10 finalist, becoming the first Dutchmen to ever earn that honor. He was also a five-time ECACH goalie of the week. Grosenick won two team awards: the Ned Dukehart Award for the highest grade-point average, and the Most Improved Player. He also captured two other awards: the Harold R. Moore Soph­omore Athletic Prize, which is presented to a sophomore male athlete for attitude, ability, participation, and achievement in intercollegiate sports, and the Sophomore Scholar Athlete of the Year. Grosenick was named to the ECACH Preseason All-Conference team by the coaches and media.

3 Ryan Forgaard

(Defenseman)

PERSONAL: 22 years old, 5-11, 180 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Fairbault, Minn. CLASS: Senior. MAJOR: Economics.

A lower-body injury kept Forgaard out for most of the second half of the season. He had two assists in 20 games last season. One of those assists came on Jeremy Welsh’s goal against Harvard that tied the score, 1-1, in the third period of the ECACH tournament championship game March 17.

4 Tim Boyle (Defenseman)

PERSONAL: 19 years old, 6-2, 185 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Hingham, Mass. CLASS: Freshman. MAJOR: Economics.

Boyle comes to Union from Noble and Greenough prep school. He helped the team to a 21-5-1 record and a berth in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference Open tournament for the first time. Boyle had nine goals and 37 assists in 53 career games at Noble and Greenough. He was selected in the fourth round (106th overall) by the Ottawa Senators in the NHL draft in June. Boyle is the brother of New York Rangers center Brian Boyle.

6 Charlie Vasaturo

(Defenseman)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 6-2, 210 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Sewell, N.J. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Liberal Arts.

Vasaturo played in 12 games last season and had two assists. He picked up his first career point against RIT on Oct. 22.

7 Josh Jooris (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 22 years old, 6-1, 190 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Burlington, Ont­ario. CLASS: Junior. MAJOR: Psychology.

Jooris had eight goals and 20 assists last season. He battled through injuries during the first half of the season, and then had a great second half. He scored an empty-net goal that sealed Union’s 5-3 victory over Colgate on March 16 that clinched the Dutchmen’s second straight ECACH reg­ular-season title. He had another big empty-net goal that helped Union to a 3-1 win over Harvard that gave the Dutchmen their first ECACH tournament title on March 17. In the prev­ious night’s semifinal, Jooris had a goal and three assists in a 6-2 win over Colgate. Jooris scored the game-winning goal in the Dutchmen’s 4-2 victory over UMass-Lowell in the NCAA tournament East Regional final, putting Union in the Frozen Four.

8 Nick Cruice (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 19 years old, 6-0, 190 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Dresher, Pa. CLASS: Freshman. MAJOR: Economics.

Cruice joins the Dutchmen from the South Shore Kings of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. He had 19 goals and 34 assists as the Kings won the Southern Div­ision title with a record of 37-8 and reached the EJHL semifinals. In two seasons with the Kings, Cruice had 37 goals and 68 assists in 87 games.

9 Daniel Carr (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 20 years old, 6-0, 190 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Sherwood Park, Alberta. CLASS: Junior. MAJOR: Economics.

Carr had his second straight 20-goal season last year, scoring it in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinal against Ferris State on April 5. He became the first Dutchmen in the Div­ision I era to have two straight

20-goal seasons. Carr also had 20 assists, and finished third on the team in scoring with 40 points. He is the team’s top returning scorer. Carr scored the game-winning goal against Harvard in the ECACH tourn­ament championship game. Carr had a pair of hat tricks last season. He led the team with five game-winning goals. He is 25 points away from 100 for his college career. He led the team with three short-handed goals. Carr was named to the ECACH Preseason All-Conference team by the coaches and media.

10 Mark Bennett (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 6-0, 195 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Oakville, Ont­ario. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Liberal Arts.

Bennett, who is no relation to Union coach Rick Bennett, had a goal and three assists in 20 games last season. He got his first career point, an assist, against Clarkson on Nov. 5. Bennett scored his first

career goal against Clarkson Jan. 27 at Messa Rink.

11 Sam Coatta (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 22 years old, 5-9, 175 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Minnetonka, Minn. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Liberal Arts.

Coatta played in 40 games last season, most among the first-year players. He had three goals and five assists. Coatta picked up a point in each of his first two collegiate games. He had an assist in Union’s 8-1 rout of Army Oct. 8, and got his first goal six days later against Western Michigan.

12 Kyle Bodie (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 24 years old, 6-0, 180 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: East St. Paul, Manitoba. CLASS: Senior. MAJOR: Economics.

After collecting just 22 points his first two seasons, Bodie had a breakout junior season with six goals and 24 assists in 38 games. The 24 assists and 30 points were career highs. He was fifth on the team in scoring. Bodie was very effective on the power play, finishing second in scoring with four goals and 13 assists. He had a goal and four assists in the two-game sweep of RPI in the ECACH tournament quarterfinal. Scored the empty-net goal that gave Union a 4-2 in over UMass-Lowell in the NCAA East Reg­ional championship game March 24.

13 Theo DiPauli (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 19 years old, 5-9, 180 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Downers Grove, Ill. CLASS: Freshman. MAJOR: Bioengineering.

DiPauli comes to the Dutchmen from the U.S. Hockey League’s Chicago Steel, where he played the last three seasons. A team captain the last two seasons, DiPauli was limited to 47 games over that span because of injuries. He had 17 goals and 18 assists during that time. DiPauli was a member of the 2010 USA Under-18 Select Team that won a silver medal at the Ivan Hlinka Mem­orial Tournament.

14 Shayne Gostisbehere

(Defenseman)

PERSONAL: 19 years old, 5-11, 160 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Margate, Fla. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Engineering.

Gostisbehere parlayed a strong freshman season, including a great second half, into some major attention. He was drafted in the third round by the Philadelphia Flyers in the June draft. Gostisbehere played in the U.S. National Development Camp in Lake Placid in August, and gave himself a great chance to make the World Junior team by collecting two goals and two assists in four games. He had five goals and 17 assists in 41 games. He was named to ECACH All-Rookie team after getting three goals and 11 assists. Gostisbehere had a career-high four points, all assists, against Cornell on Feb. 4. His plus-18 defensive rating was tied for second on the team.

15 Matt Hatch (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 22 years old, 5-11, 185 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Massena. CLASS: Junior. MAJOR: Liberal Arts/-­Sciences.

Hatch had seven goals and 10 assists last season. He started the year with a goal and two assists in Union’s season-opening 8-1 win over Army Oct. 8. He also had a goal and two assists against RPI Jan. 14, and had two goals and an assist two weeks later against St. Lawrence. Hatch was tied for second on the team with a defensive rating of plus-18.

16 Kevin Sullivan

(FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 6-0, 180 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Darien Conn. CLASS: Junior. MAJOR: History.

Sullivan had six goals and seven assists in 36 games last season. Four of the goals were game-winners, including one of the two he scored in the Dutchmen’s 4-2 over RPI that clinched the ECACH tournament quarterfinal series March 10.

17 Daniel Ciampini

(FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 6-0, 175 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Concord, Ontario. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Liberal Arts.

After playing sparingly in the first half of the season, Ciampini became a regular late in the year. He had three goals and three assists in 16 games. Ciampini scored Union’s first goal against UMass Lowell in the NCAA hockey tournament East Regional champ­ionship game March 24.

18 Max Novak (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 5-11, 180 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Oak Ridge, N.J. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR:

Economics.

Novak had nine goals and five assists in 34 games last season. He opened his college career in style with a two-goal effort in the season-opener at Army. After collecting four goals and four assists in his first 13 games, Novak slumped in mid-season. But he bounced back nicely, especially in the postseason, by scoring three goals. He scored Union’s first goals in the first ECACH quarterfinal game against RPI, and the NCAA East Regional semifinal against Michigan State.

19 Matt Wilkins (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 5-11, 190 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Kimberley, British Columbia. CLASS: Freshman. MAJOR: Econ­omics.

If there is someone who could step in and replace the departed Jeremy Welsh, Wilkins could be that player. Playing for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits, Wilkins led the AJHL in scoring with 34 goals and 65 assists, and was a

finalist for league MVP. In his two years with the Bandits, Wilkins had 64 goals and 122 assists. He scored 28 career power-play goals.

20 Greg Coburn

(Defenseman)

PERSONAL: 24 years old, 6-0, 175 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. CLASS: Senior. MAJOR: Man­agerial Economics.

Coburn had five goals and nine assists in 40 games last season. He led the Dutchmen with a defensive rating of plus-19. Coburn scored the eventual game-winning goal against RPI in Game 1 of the ECACH tourn­ament quarterfinals March 9. He had a pair of two-point games last season.

21 Wayne Simpson

(FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 22 years old, 5-11, 195 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Boxborough, Mass. CLASS: Senior. MAJOR: Man­agerial Economics.

Simpson had the best season in his three years with 18 goals and 13 assists. He tied for the team lead in power-play goals with nine, and was tied for second with four game-winners. Simpson opened last season in grand style, getting three goals and an assist in Union’s 8-1 win over Army Oct. 8. He had 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) during a 12-game stretch Dec. 31-Feb. 10.

22 Mat Bodie

(Defenseman)

PERSONAL: 22 years old, 6-0, 165 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: East St. Paul, Manitoba. CLASS: Junior. MAJOR: Liberal Arts.

Bodie had eight goals and 21 assists in 39 games last season. In ECACH play, he was third in scoring among defensemen with six goals and 10 assists. Bodie was named to the All-ECACH first team. He scored the game’s first goal against Harvard at Fenway Park on Jan. 13. Bodie was named to the ECACH Preseason All-Conference team by the coaches and media. Bodie is the team captain.

23 Cole Ikkala (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 22 years old, 6-0, 205 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Romansville, Pa. CLASS: Junior. MAJOR: Economics.

Ikkala had two goals and three assists in 36 games. He opened the season with a two-assist game against Army. Ikkala scored his first collegiate goal in Union’s 6-3 win at Michigan Nov. 27. His other goal came against Dartmouth on Jan. 7.

24 Sebastien Gingras

(Defenseman)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 6-2, 185 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Pierrefonds, Quebec. CLASS: Freshman. MAJOR: Neuroscience.

Gingras comes to Union from the Brockville Braves of the Central Canada Hockey League. He was Brockville’s top defensive scorer with 12 goals and 31 assists. He had 17 power-play points. Union lacked a right-handed shot on the point, so Gingras should provide that. He is the son of Gaston Gingras, who played 12 seasons in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues.

25 Tyson Fulton

(FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 6-0, 185 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Brooklyn Park, Minn. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Liberal Arts/Sciences.

Fulton saw action in three games last season, and none after Dec. 3 against Prince­ton. He didn’t record a point. Fulton came to Union from the U.S. Hockey League’s

Waterloo Black Hawks. He had 11 goals and 17 assists in 57 games in 2010-11.

26 David Roy (FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 20 years old, 6-3, 205 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Cumberland, Ontario. CLASS: Freshman. MAJOR: Neuro­science.

Roy joins the Dutchmen from Brockville, where he was a teammate of Sebastien Gingras. Roy could be another player that helps pick up the offensive slack with the loss of Welsh and Zajac. He was the Braves’ second-leading scorer last season with 32 goals and 37 assists. Roy led the Braves in power-play goals (12), power-play points (19) and short-handed goals (three).

28 Shawn Stuart

(Defenseman)

PERSONAL: 23 years old, 6-1, 200 pounds, shoots left. HOMETOWN: Calgary, Alberta. CLASS: Senior. MAJOR: Managerial Economics.

Stuart had a goal and a career-high 10 assists in 41 games last season. He is as steady a defenseman as they come. He had just two penalties last season, and none of them were stick or obstruction fouls. Stuart had a plus-12 defensive rating.

29 Trevor Mingoia

(FORWARD)

PERSONAL: 20 years old, 5-10, 175 pounds, shoots right. HOMETOWN: Fairport. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Liberal Arts/Social

Sciences.

Mingoia had three goals and three assists in 18 games last season. His best game came Jan. 7 against Dartmouth, when he had two goals and an assist in a 7-1 victory. He scored his first collegiate goal

Dec. 3 against Princeton.

30 Colin Stevens (Goalie)

PERSONAL: 19 years old, 6-2 170 pounds, catches left. HOMETOWN: Niskayuna. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Managerial Economics.

Stevens, who was a Union fan while growing up in Niskayuna, had a good freshman season, going 4-2-4 with a 2.25 GAA and a .913 save percentage. He filled in nicely in three February games, when Grosenick was out with an injured ankle, going 2-0-1.

Stevens earned his first collegiate win

Oct. 29 against American International.

31 Dillon Pieri (Goalie)

PERSONAL: 21 years old, 6-0 180 pounds, catches left HOMETOWN: Needham, Mass. CLASS: Sophomore. MAJOR: Economics.

Pieri didn’t play a game last season. He posted a 13-12-6 record with the Boston Advantage Midget Major team in 2010-11. He had a 3.30 GAA, a .907 save percentage and four shutouts.

 
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