Union takes care of business
SCHENECTADY Trophies are nice.
They’re shiny and elegant.
They make for good photo ops, especially when you can skate around a hockey rink with one.
The Union Dutchmen did their trophy thing on Friday, and their senior thing on Saturday, after the final home game of the regular season.
The business of Saturday night, then, was securing something much more important than a piece of hardware for the display case.
And the No. 3 Dutchmen did so with a ruthlessness that will make them a very tough out in the postseason.
Union skated St. Lawrence off the ice in a 6-2 win that clinched the top seed in the ECAC Hockey tournament.
Even though revenge is fool’s gold when you’re trying to win championships, Saturday’s win had a taking-care-of-all-family-business element to it.
Instead of Barzini, Phillip Tattaglia … Moe Greene … Stracci … Cuneo … it was Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State, Yale … St. Lawrence.
Quinnipiac was the team that dispatched the Dutchmen in the East Regional final last year; Union beat them in the rematch this season, 6-4, on Dec. 7.
St. Cloud State was No. 1 in the country when Union scored a 4-1 win and a 3-3 tie on the road a week later.
Yale was the defending national champion when Union beat the Bulldogs, 5-3, two weeks ago.
And St. Lawrence is the last team to have beaten Union, 2-1, up north two weeks ago, when Union was missing suspended captain Mat Bodie, leading goal-scorer Daniel Ciampini and freshman Eli Lichtenwald in the aftermath of the Mayor’s Cup brawl against RPI at the Times Union Center.
With the Cleary Cup already on the shelf but the top seed still available, the Dutchmen blew away St. Lawrence before the Saints ever knew what hit them.
Sebastien Gingras and Nick Cruice scored 22 seconds apart early in the game, and the Saints were lucky to be down just 2-0 after one.
Daniel Carr scored back-to-back in the second for a 5-0 lead, and all family business was in order.
“You’re going to have to play like that if you’re ever going to go anywhere,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said. “It’s nice to play a strong game on Friday night, but you’ve got to bring it into Saturday if you want to keep going on.”
“The first period was pretty indicative of how badly we wanted it,” Bodie said.
Union has two road games left next weekend before a two-week break before the quarterfinal round.
Bennett rested Hobey Baker Award candidate Shayne Gostisbehere in the third period against St. Lawrence because he could, and will look for similar opportunities next weekend.
Still, as he preaches the process and staying in the moment, Bennett and the Dutchmen are determined to maintain the ruthlessness they showed this weekend.
“It’s the NCAA picture,” Bennett said. “That’s probably all the incentive we need going forward [into next weekend]. The big picture is we can’t let up.”