Union-St. Lawrence semifinal postgame report
Keith Kinkaid proved that he is a good bounce-back goalie. Now, Union needs to bounce back from a subpar performance against St. Lawrence in the ECAC Hockey tournament semifinal game Friday at the Times Union Center.
The Dutchmen looked a step slow over the final two periods. But thanks to Kinkaid's 29-save performance, the Dutchmen captured a 3-1 win to advance to the tournament final for the first time.
Union managed just eight shots on goal over the final 40 minutes. It looked like the toll of last weekend's marathon quarterfinal series against Quinnipiac, plus taking final exams for the second trimester, wore on the Dutchmen.
Union coach Nate Leaman wouldn't use that as an excuse.
"I thought St. Lawrence played a terrific game," Leaman said. "They came at us with a lot of energy, and a lot of jump and put us back on our heels a number of times in the game. I thought we bent, but didn't break. We, ultimately, found a way to win that game."
You can thank Kinkaid for that.
Kinkaid could have been depressed over losing last Friday's five-overtime marathon against Quinnipiac in Game 1 of the best-of-three quarterfinal series. He was on the bench for the final two games of the series while Corey Milan led the Dutchmen to the wins to advance them to the championship round for the first time in the team's 19-year Division I history.
But in a story I wrote earlier this week about the goalies, Kinkaid has shown an ability to overcome tough games.
"Keith's a bounce-back goalie," Union defenseman Mike Schreiber said. "We have full faith with him in the net, just like we do Corey."
Leaman said the decision on which goalie would start was tough. He ultimately went with Kinkaid because he beat the Saints twice this season.
"I wrestled with it all week, and I wrestled with it last night," Leaman said. "I'm not going to lie, it was a staff decision. I consulted everyone on the staff. Ultimately, what it came down to with me was Keith's strengths matched up against this team a little bit better, whereas Corey's strengths matched up against Quinnipiac a little bit better."
Kinkaid's ability to handle rebounds well was also a key factor in Leaman's decision.
"Keith does a good job, for a freshman goaltender, of holding rebounds," Leaman said. "That's something not a lot of freshmen goaltenders can do well. When you control your rebounds and hold your rebounds, there's not as many second-chance opportunities, and it's tough to score goals in college hockey without second-chance opportunities."
The Saints had few second-chance opportunities.
"He played very well, controlled the puck very well and, as a forward coming down, that makes it difficult," Saints forward Travis Vermeulen said. "You go to the net waiting for the puck to be sitting there a lot of times, and he was able to control it into the corner."
Adam Presizniuk's tip-in of a Jason Walters shot from the left-wing boards midway through the third period snapped a 1-1 tie. The Saints swarmed the Dutchmen, especially after pulling goalie Kain Tisi with 1:42 left in the game. But Kinkaid was cool.
And that is why the Dutchmen will play for a title tomorrow night.
Dutchmen forward Kelly Zajac played the final two periods of the game with a bad shoulder. He hurt it Sunday against Quinnipiac, and reaggravated it in the first period.
He went back to the locker room with trainer Cheryl Rockwood. When Rockwood came back, it looked like she gave the signal to Leaman that Zajac wouldn't return.
But there was Zajac was there at the start of the second period.
"' Zaj' is battling a couple of bumps," Leaman said. "He's a warrior."
My three stars of the game:
1) Keith Kinkaid, Union — Made 29 saves.
2) Adam Presizniuk, Union — Scored the game-winner.
3) Derek Keller, St. Lawrence — Scored the Saints' goal, and was solid.
That's all from the TU Center. I'll be back with you tomorrow night for the biggest game in its 19-year Division I history. If you have any comments, post them below, or e-mail them to me at email@example.com.
Good Night! Good Hockey!