Hockey: Dutchmen await Stevens' return
Union goalie Colin Stevens didn’t get out of the first period in the Dutchmen’s season-opening game against Bowling Green.
The junior from Niskayuna is hoping to last a lot longer in his next start, whenever that is.
That start could come as early as tonight, when the Dutchmen (1-2-2) open ECAC Hockey play at 7 against Dartmouth (0-2), the team they eliminated in last season’s ECACH tournament quarterfinals, at Thompson Arena in Hanover, N.H.
Stevens was steamrolled by Falcons forward Bryce Williamson 6:21 into the Oct. 11 game. Williamson skated hard from the right wing with the puck and drove the net. He had no intention of stopping.
“It’s part of the game,” Stevens said. “It was a one-on-one play coming from the side [and] down the wall. It was tough to tell what exactly happened. . . . It is what it is.”
Freshman Alex Sakellaropoulos replaced Stevens as the starter. Sakellaropoulos went 1-2-2 with a 3.45 goals-against average. Junior Dillon Pieri replaced Sakellaropoulos during the second period of the Oct. 19 game against Lake Superior State and stopped all six shots he faced.
Stevens served as the backup goalie to Sakellaropoulos in last Friday’s 2-2 tie at UConn. He is feeling like he is ready to get back in the net.
“I’ve skated a few times, been back on the ice and I felt really good,” Stevens said.
Union coach Rick Bennett is hoping that Stevens is ready to go. However, a decision won’t be made until after today’s morning skate.
“He’s looked a lot better in practice,” Bennett said. “The wind’s coming back. He’s had a good week of practice, so far. He’s been very good with [assistant coach] Jason Tapp. But, sometimes, the air
capacity needs a little work.”
While Stevens awaits his chance to get back in net, the Dutchmen are hoping to snap out of a two-game goal-scoring funk.
In the last two contests, the Dutchmen have fired 97 shots on goal. They only have four goals and an 0-1-1 record to show for it.
Bennett wants to see more traffic in front of the opposition’s net.
“Activity versus achievement. These guys know that,” Bennett said. “I picked it up this summer listening to some coaches. I thought it was a great term. We look pretty out there, we look good, smell good, but at the end of the day, we’re not finishing. We need to buckle that up. We have to pay the price in front of the net.”
The Dutchmen aren’t frustrated with getting the shots on goal. But they are not happy with the inability to score more.
“We’re doing what we want. We’re getting pucks to the net,” Union left winger Matt Hatch said. “It’s just a matter of getting guys to the area where you’re going to score goals.”
Union may be without freshman forwards Michael Pontarelli, the team’s leading goal scorer (four), and Alex Gonye. Bennett said the two were nicked up in practice this week.
“Practice has been a little tougher,” Bennett said. “Sometimes, the new guys coming in aren’t prepared for that. . . . If we want to be successful, it’s going to take bumps and bruises.”
The Dutchmen visit Harvard at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Tenth-ranked Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will face Harvard for the second straight game, this time at Bright Hockey Center in Boston tonight at 7.
The two teams opened ECACH play Tuesday at Houston Field House. The Engineers (4-1-1) jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead, but the Crimson (1-0-1) rallied with a goal in the second period and two more in the third to earn a 3-3 tie.
RPI will visit Dartmouth at 7 p.m. Saturday.