Union-Quinnipiac postgame report (with videos)
I believe Union coach Rick Bennett is going to have an interesting decision to make over the next few days.
He will have to weigh what is more important — winning the Cleary Cup or having a healthy Troy Grosenick for the ECAC Hockey tournament.
I don't want to be in Bennett's shoes. I know fans want to see the Dutchmen take home a second straight Cleary Cup next weekend. And to beat second-place Cornell at Lynah Rink and skate their with the Cup would be lot of fun for the fans.
But does Bennett want to risk another injury to Grosenick?
The sophomore netminder reinjured his left ankle late in the second period of the ECAC Hockey-leading and eighth-ranked Dutchmen's 5-2 win over Quinnipiac on Saturday in the final regular-season game at Messa Rink. Grosenick, the nation's top goalie with a 1.52 goals-against average, was hurt when Spencer Heichman, who was hooked by Wayne Simpson, crashed into him. Grosenick stayed down, favoring his left ankle. He was helped off the ice by trainer Cheryl Rockwood. He didn't return to the bench for the third period.
"It's the same ankle," Bennett said. "It probably scared him a little more than anything. In talking to the sports [training] staff, he's going to be fine."
It's unclear if Grosenick will be available for the Cornell game.
"I'm not really sure right now," Bennett said. "We'll see how he is and evaluate him on Monday. We'll see if he can make it out for practice. We'll just have to wait and see."
The worst Union can finish is second. With Union getting a first-round ECACH tournament bye, Bennett could decide to give Grosenick two weeks off before the best-of-three quarterfinals start March 9 at Messa.
"It definitely helps," Bennett said. "But at the same token, you want to have the practice time, the game time going into the playoff series. It's a setback, but at the same token, if Colin Stevens has to go, we are more than happy to play him."
Stevens, the 18-year-old from Niskayuna, filled in admirably, just like he did earlier this month when he went 2-0-1 after Grosenick first injured the ankle.
"I try to just prepare for every game as if I was starting," Stevens said. "I just prepare for every game the same way, so that's all there is to it."
Stevens improved to 4-2-4 with a 2.25 GAA. In ECACH play, he is 3-1-3 with a 1.93 GAA.
"All the adversity he has faced this year, being out at Denver, being in the Colgate-Cornell series," Bennett said. "All of that stuff kind of prepared him for tonight. This was a different test. He came in and did a great job."
Winning the Cleary Cup would be nice. But having a healthy Grosenick ready for the ECACH tournament may be more important. If Grosenick's not 100 percent this coming week, give him the time off and play Stevens.
Standings, Pairwise updates
With two games left, the Dutchmen (13-3-4 ECACH, 19-6-7 overall) maintain their two-point lead over second-place Cornell, which beat St. Lawrence, 4-3, in overtime. Union visits Cornell on Friday.
A tie or Dutchmen win gives them their second straight Cleary Cup title. If the game ends in a tie, the season series with Cornell would be 0-0-2, rendering the first tiebreaker, the season series, moot. The second tiebreaker is league wins, and Union is up two on Cornell.
"Anytime you can clinch, it's always fun," Union center Jeremy Welsh said. "Last year, it was one of the best nights of the year when we clinched at home, and we had everyone's parents down. It's a tight race, so we're going to have a chance to do it in Cornell's barn. It will be an intense game, so that will be a lot of fun, too."
And, as of 11:50 p.m., Union is seventh in the Pairwise Rankings.
Tickets for the ECACH tournament quarterfinals at Messa March 9-11 will on sale Monday. All-session passes are $36 for adults, and $18 for students. Individual game tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students.
Online tickets sales will start Wednesday at http://unionathleticstickets.universitytickets.com/user_pages/event_listings.asp.
Call the ticket office at 388-6020.
Rough second period
Quinnipiac stepped up its physical play in the second period. That led to Union taking too many penalties.
"It's a frustrating brand of hockey," Bennett said. "It was the same way when we were down there. We just had to keep our heads tonight. We got caught up in a game that is not our style of game."
It was a strange sight to see Kelly Zajac take two penalties in a game. That happens as often as a leap year. Zajac had just two penalty minutes coming into the game.
Welsh scored his 20th goal of the season, an empty-net tally with 1:44 left in the game. He is the fourth Union Division I player to reach 20 goals, joining Chris Ford (20 in 1993-94), Mario Valery-Trabucco (23 in 2009-10) and Daniel Carr (20 last season).
Zajac had an assist on Greg Coburn's first-period power-play goal. It was 125th career point, moving him within six points of Adam Presizniuk's Union Division I record of 131 career points.
I have three postgame videos.
To see the press conferences with Stevens, Welsh, Kevin Sullivan and Coburn, click here.
To see Bennett's press conference, click here.
To hear Zajac talk about Senior Night, click here.
My three stars of the game:
1) Jeremy Welsh, Union center — Got his 20th goal of the season and had two assists.
2) Colin Stevens, Union goalie — Makes seven saves in relief of Troy Grosenick.
3) Daniel Carr, Union left wing — Had a goal and an assist.
That's all from Messa Rink. Look for my College Hockey Slap Schotts blog on Monday.
Good Night! Good Hockey!