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by Ken Schott

Parting Schotts

A Daily Gazette sports blog
Ken Schott blogs about college hockey & more

Union-Dartmouth pregame report

Good evening from Messa Rink, which will get a chance to shine in the national spotlight as it hosts and ECAC Hockey game between 18th-ranked Union and visiting No. 16 Dartmouth.

Tonight’s game is being televised by NBC Sports Network, Union’s second appearance on the channel this season. On Jan. 11, the Dutchmen won a 3-2 game at Princeton on NBCSN. An interesting note that Union sports information director Eric McDowell provided on Thursday. The last time NBC had a live broadcast of any kind from the Union College campus was in 1936, when the Union College Glee Club had a nationwide broadcast on NBC Radio.

The Dutchmen seem to have snapped out of their mid-season slump. They have won three straight. Quite frankly, the Dutchmen should be on a six-game ride. Blowing those leads against Quinnipiac and Cornell in consecutive games hurt.

Union dropped a 3-2 decision to Dartmouth on Nov. 10 in Hanover, N.H. The Dutchmen trailed, 3-0, after two. They scored two goals in the first 2:10 of the third period, but couldn’t get that tying goal.

The Dutchmen’s special teams have been outstanding. The power play has been one of the best in the country for the last three years. But the penalty kill is getting the attention now. It’s tied for second in the country with Quinnipiac at 91.2 percent.

“It’s something that we work on every week,” said Union senior center Kyle Bodie, one of the key members of the penalty kill who leads the team with two short-handed goals. “The guys have bought into the system that has been in place for two years now. We’ve got guys on the PK who have been in that situation before. We’ve got enough guys on this team that, when we get into penalty trouble, we’re not tiring everyone out.”

After missing the last four games because of a shoulder injury, senior defenseman Shawn Stuart returns to the Union lineup. Stuart was injured in the first period of the Jan. 12 game at Quinnipiac. When he missed the Cornell six games later, it ended Stuart’s consecutive games played streak at 100.

The last game he missed was Oct. 9, 2010, Union’s second game of the season against Sacred Heart. Stuart was a healthy scratch for that game. He only missed two games his freshman season.

“It’s definitely frustrating, especially senior year,” Stuart said. “But it gives you a different perspective of the game seeing it from up top. You see a lot of things that you miss when you’re on the bench and on the ice. Hopefully, I can use that to my advantage.”

Stuart replaces freshman Sebastian Gingras. Also, defenseman Charlie Vasaturo returns to the lineup, replacing Tim Boyle. One change on the forward line as Sam Coatta replaces Nick Cruice.

Here is the Union lineup, starting with the forwards (LW-C-RW):
Daniel Ciampini/Kyle Bodie/Wayne Simpson
Matt Wilkins/Max Novak/Daniel Carr
Matt Hatch/Josh Jooris/Kevin Sullivan
Cole Ikkala/David Roy/Sam Coatta

The defensive pairings are:
Greg Coburn/Shayne Gostisbehere
Mat Bodie/Shawn Stuart
Ryan Forgaard/Charlie Vasaturo

Troy Grosenick starts in goal.

Dartmouth is 3-5 in its last eight games. The Big Green snapped a two-game slide last Saturday with a 5-1 win over Clarkson.

The Big Green is led by sophomore forward Tyler Sikura with nine goals and 16 assists. Junior forward Matt Lindblad is second with nine goals and 14 assists. Another junior forward, Eric Robinson, leads the team with 10 goals. Junior goalie Cab Morris has been solid net, posting an 8-3-1 record with a 1.99 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage and one shutout.

Dartmouth will be without sophomore forward Brandon McNally, who was injured in the Jan. 18 game at Brown. This will be the fourth game McNally has missed.

Here is the Dartmouth lineup, starting with the forwards:
Matt Linblad/Tyler Sikura/Eric Neiley
Dustin Walsh/Brett Patterson/Eric Robinson
Brad Schierhorn/Nick Bligh/Jack Barre
Jason Bourega/Alex Goodship/Tim O’Brien

The defensive pairings are:
Mike Keenan/Ryan Bullock
Geoff Ferguson/Taylor Boldt
Rick Pinkston/Nick Lovejoy

Morris starts in goal.

The referees are Tom Steinel Jr. and Andy O’Brien. Jason Shattie and Bill Bredin are the linesmen.

I’ll have updates on the on Twitter. If you’re not following me, my Twitter handle is @slapschotts. The hashtags I will use for this game are #UnionHockey, #DartmouthHockey and #ECACHockey. If you have any questions during the game, feel free to ask.

If you are watching the game on NBCSN, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the broadcast.

I’ll update my Parting Schotts blog after each period, and have more description of the game.

If you haven’t done so, please like two Facebook pages — The Daily Gazette on Ice and the Slap Schotts College Hockey Segment. Of course, you can also friend me on Facebook.

Enjoy the game!

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