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College hockey notes: Dutchmen won't change strategy

Friday, February 28, 2014
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With the Cleary Cup in its possession and the top seed for the ECAC Hockey tournament clinched, it would appear that regular season-champion Union has little to play for in the final two games of the regular season this weekend.

Guess again.

The Dutchmen (16-3-1 ECACH, 22-6-4 overall) have no intention of going through the motions when they face Yale (9-7-4, 14-8-5) tonight at 7 at Ingalls Rink, and Brown at 4 p.m. Saturday at Meehan Auditorium.

Union clinched the Cleary Cup and top seed last weekend with wins over Clarkson and St. Lawrence, and will host the best-of-three quarterfinal round March 14-16. The Dutchmen take a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) into tonight’s game.

“We’re going on this road trip to win,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “That’s exactly how we’re going to approach this road trip. If you start resting guys, or you just take it carelessly, I think it’s going to come back to get you.

“I’m not saying we’re going to go there and get two wins. I’ve never said that. But we’re going there to win. If you don’t go there to win, it sets a bad example.”

The Dutchmen want to preserve their spot in the PairWise Rankings for the NCAA tournament. The Dutchmen are tied for third with Ferris State and are on track to be the top seed for the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn. That is where they won the regional in 2012 to advance to the Frozen Four.

“Regardless of the standings, there is still a lot to play for,” Dutchmen defenseman Mat Bodie said. “Both of these teams are teams we could see down the line, so you don’t want to give them an inch. And there’s, obviously, the PairWise to consider. We’re just going forward, as usual.”

Bennett said that injured center Max Novak could play this weekend. Novak was hurt in the Cornell game Feb. 14, and has missed the last three contests.

HOME ICE ON LINE

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute seeks to wrap up home ice for the first round of the ECACH tournament for the second straight year when it faces Brown tonight at 7 at Meehan Auditorium.

The Engineers (7-8-5, 13-13-6) need a win or a loss by ninth-place St. Lawrence this weekend to assure themselves of at least two more games at Houston Field House next weekend. RPI is in seventh place, two points ahead of eighth-place Brown (8-11-1, 11-13-3). The Engineers are two points behind sixth-place Yale, and three in back of fifth-place Clarkson.

RPI beat Brown, 4-1, on Feb. 8.

Recruiting news

Union and RPI each got recruit commitments this week.

The Dutchmen received a commitment from Nanaimo Clippers forward Brendan Taylor for the 2015-16 season.

The 18-year-old Taylor is the team’s leading scorer with 23 goals and 32 assists in 55 games. He is tied for the team lead in power-play goals (seven) and short-handed goals (six), and tops the club with seven game-winning goals.

Taylor is in his third year with the Clippers. He had 15 goals and 12 assists in his first two seasons.

RPI received a commitment from St. Andrews College (Ontario) defenseman Austin Cho for the 2016-17 season.

The 16-year-old Cho has 13 goals and 30 assists in 49 games. He is 6-foot and weighs 170 pounds.

BOBCATS SLIDING

Quinnipiac, last year’s Cleary Cup champion and NCAA Frozen Four runner-up, is in the midst of a streak it hasn’t experienced in a couple of seasons.

The Bobcats were swept at home by Cornell and Colgate last weekend. Coupled with the Feb. 15 loss to Brown, the Bobcats have dropped three straight. The last time they did that was in the 2011-12 season, when they lost to St. Lawrence, Colgate and Cornell Nov. 12-19. That was part of a six-game winless streak (0-4-2) that started with a loss to Dartmouth, followed by ties to Harvard and Clarkson.

WOMEN’S PLAYOFFS

The ECACH women’s tournament best-of-three quarterfinals get underway today.

Clarkson, which needed a 2-1 overtime win over Union last Saturday to clinch the regular-season title and the top seed, will host eighth-seeded Dartmouth. No. 2 Harvard will host No. 7 Yale, sixth-seeded Princeton visits No. 3 Cornell and fourth-seeded Quinnipiac hosts fifth-seeded St. Lawrence.

LOCAL UPDATE

Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region did over the past week.

Union junior goalie Colin Stevens (Niskayuna) earned his fourth shutout of the season with a 20-save effort in last Friday’s 5-0 win over Clarkson. He stopped 24 shots in Saturday’s 6-2 victory over St. Lawrence.

Union freshman defenseman Jeff Taylor (Clifton Park) scored a goal in Friday’s win.

Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke (Albany) collected a goal and an assist in the Badgers’ 3-1 win over Minnesota State last Saturday.

Brown sophomore defenseman Hunter Davis (Clifton Park) saw the Bears’ season end last Saturday. She had three assists in 29 games.

 
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