Union-Minnesota Duluth postgame report
The power play was a big reason why Union had such a great season. Coming into the NCAA hockey tournament, the Dutchmen were clicking at 31.1 percent.
And when you get nine opportunities in a game, you would think that Union would have gotten at least a couple of power-play goals.
But against Minnesota Duluth on Friday afternoon at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard, the Dutchmen were denied deposits on their power-play chances (sorry, bad bank humor). Nine times, the Dutchmen were on the power play, and nine times, they couldn't score.
And, in a cruel irony, the Bulldogs cashed in twice on eight power-play opportunities, and that proved to be the difference in their 2-0 victory over the Dutchmen. UMD gets to play Yale in Saturday's regional championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Union went home.
It was a stunning conclusion to what was an outstanding year for the Dutchmen. I fully expected Union to be able to convert its power-play chances, especially when it got four in the first period. The Dutchmen were playing against an UMD team that led the WCHA in penalty minutes.
When Mike Connolly took a hitting after the whistle penalty 31 seconds into the game, the Dutchmen had a great chance to take control. But they couldn't score.
And that would become a recurring theme throughout the night. And as the game wore on, they became discombobulated. On the Dutchmen's fourth power play of the first, they went offsides several times. Then there were times they wouldn't shoot. A bad line change on a second-period power play nearly led to a short-handed goal.
"I don't think they were doing anything too significant," Dutchmen center Jeremy Welsh said. "They weren't pressuring us too hard. We had a tough time getting pucks below the goal line, and getting them up top. We had a couple of power plays where we couldn't get set up."
Adam Presizniuk had a different take.
"I thought that they did a good job at fronting shots and getting in lanes," Presizniuk said. "They forced us to go offsides a few times, which is definitely frustrating."
And it was a very frustrating way for the Dutchmen's season to end.
Dutchmen sophomore goalie Keith Kinkaid, the subject of whether not he would leave for an NHL contract, said after the game that he plans on coming back for his junior year.
"Right now, I'm with the Dutchmen, and that is all that's on my mind," Kinkaid said.
I hope he does. He had an outstanding season, but I believe he needs one more year in college.
Union coach Nate Leaman hopes he stays, too.
"He's our rock," Leaman said. "He was terrific in the third period. I thought he was terrific in the game. I think it's the right decision. I haven't spoken with him yet. If that's his decision, that's the right decision. I think it's going to be a tough decision, to be honest, because I think there's going to be a lot of people pulling him in different directions."
My three stars of the game:
1) Kenny Reiter, UMD — Goalie made 32 saves, with 17 of them coming on Union's nine power plays.
2) Kyle Schmidt, UMD — Scored first goal.
3) Justin Fontaine, UMD — Scored last goal.
That is all from Bridgeport, Conn. Look for my College Hockey Slap Schotts blog on Monday. It could be the last one of the season, depending on what RPI does Saturday in the Midwest Region semifinal against North Dakota.
Good Night! Good Hockey!