Union-Yale postgame report (with 3 videos)
The focus this week in Union’s practices was to stick to the process and keep firing pucks on the opposing goalie. Sticking to the process had been a struggle for the Dutchmen, having scored just 18 even-strength goals in their last 17 games.
Max Novak and Matt Hatch listened intently. And, thanks to them, the Dutchmen got the offense going.
The goals Novak and Hatch could be under consideration for The Not Top 10 highlights on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” because they were certainly ugly. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for the Dutchmen, the goals were beautiful, indeed.
Novak and Hatch got great results simply by throwing pucks to the net. Yale goalie Nick Maricic should have stopped the shots, but he let in two bad goals. To me, that turned the tide of the game. A 1-0 Yale advantage became a 2-1 Union lead, and the Dutchmen went on to a 4-2 ECAC Hockey victory over the 10th-ranked Bulldogs at Messa Rink.
“We’ve been harping about taking the puck to the net hard all week and just throwing the puck to the net, and good things will happen,” Novak said after the Dutchmen fired 42 shots on goal. “We started doing that more.”
That’s exactly what Novak and Hatch did in the second period, and that chased Maricic from the game.
Novak tied it midway through the second. With teammate Shayne Gostisbehere in the penalty for indirect contact to the head-elbowing, Novak skated down the left wing.
“I had a little bit of room on the PK to skate it up, and I heard guys on the bench yelling, ‘Drive him wide,’” Novak said. “I just took it to the net, and threw it on net.”
Novak’s backhanded flip hit the inside of Maricic’s left pad and trickled in to tie the score, 1-1, with 11:35 left in the second.
“I thought Max Novak’s goal was one of the biggest goals of the year,” Union coach Rick Bennett said, “just for the fact that it got us going, but it’s what we’re all preaching, — drive wide, put pucks on net and good things are going to happen. By sticking with it, it finally happened.”
Novak’s goal was a thing of beauty compared to Hatch’s tally.
Hatch was standing behind the goal line to the right of the net. He didn’t have a good angle to shoot the puck, but he threw it to the net anyway.
Somehow, the puck hit the inside of Maricic’s right pad and caromed into the net with four minutes left in the second.
“Our line had a good forecheck going,” Hatch said. “‘Sully’ [Kevin Sullivan] passed the puck to Jooris. I was putting it on net, just trying to hit [Maricic’s] stick and get some guys crashing the net. He put it in himself. It was a pretty lucky goal. I was pretty shocked, but it was a good-time goal and our line deserved the goal.”
That goal would be the last Maricic allowed. He was taken out of the game, though not until nearly 90 seconds later, and replaced by Connor Wilson. With No. 1 goalie Jeff Malcolm out because of an injured arm, Yale’s goaltending is shaky.
Wilson made 17 saves, but he didn’t look confident. The Dutchmen has to continue to fire pucks at Wilson, and they did.
“Just stay with the process,” Bennett said. “What’s changed? Just a new goalie. You get as many pucks on him as you possibly can. Hopefully, we can catch rebound goals.”
The Dutchmen got a rebound goal during two-man advantage 31 seconds into the third period. Wilson kicked a rebound of a Kyle Bodie shot onto the stick of Wayne Simpson, who deposited it into the net.
Daniel Carr scored Union’s second even-strength goal of the game later in the third to make it 4-1. It’s the first time it had more than one even-strength tally since Jan. 22 against Harvard. The Dutchmen had two even-strength goals in that game.
“It isn’t like we have 27 goal scorers sprinkled throughout our lineup, and I say that number for a reason and you guys know why,” said Bennett, who was referencing the player who wore No. 27 for three outstanding seasons, Jeremy Welsh. “It was good to get Max, Matt, get ‘Carsie’ back on the board and, obviously, Wayne. Some of our big-time goal scorers came through, and some secondary scoring [as well].”
Union gains in PairWise
The win helped the Dutchmen move up in the PairWise Rankings. They went form 19th to a tie for 16th with Merrimack and Notre Dame.
RPI, with its 5-1 win over Brown, is 19th.
Dutchmen help Quinnipiac
Union's win helped Quinnipiac clinch its first ECACH regular-season title.
The league-leading Bobcats had their 21-game unbeaten streak snapped with a 2-1 loss to St. Lawrence. They needed Yale to either tie or lose, and they would win the Cleary Cup. The two-time defending Cleary Cup-champion Dutchmen obliged.
Mat Bodie sets record
Dutchmen junior defenseman Mat Bodie has the secondary assist on Simpson’s goal, and that helped him take over the top spot as the team’s all-time scoring defensemen with 80 points. He broke the tie with Lane Caffaro, who had 79 points from 2005-09.
“I haven’t though too much about it,” Bodie said. “I guess, looking back on it right now, it’s an achievement I’ll appreciate more in the future. It’s a testament to the guys I play with. I’ve had some real good goal scorers that I give the puck to, and they can do a lot with it.”
Carr closing in
Carr’s goal gives him 97 career points. When he reaches 100, Carr will become the 10th Union Division I player to reach the mark, and the second to do it in his junior season. Welsh did it last year.
Union goalie Troy Grosenick was pulled from both starts last weekend on the North Country trip. After the 4-2 loss to St. Lawrence last Saturday, Bennett declared open competition for the start against Yale.
Grosenick responded. He made 37 saves in the victory.
“I thought he, basically, played like he practiced,” Bennett said. “He practiced extremely well, came prepared all week, worked really hard on his goalie ice [sessions] with [assistant coaches] Jason Tapp and Joe Dumais and he got rewarded for that.”
I have three postgame videos.
To see Bennett’s press conference, click here.
To see the press conference with Bodie, Hatch and Novak, click here.
To see Yale coach Keith Allain’s press conference, click here.
My three stars of the game:
1) Matt Hatch, Union left winger— His even-strength goal snapped the 1-1 tie.
2) Max Novak, Union center— Made a great rush to score a short-handed goal.
3) Troy Grosenick, Union goalie — Makes 37 saves.
That’s all from Messa Rink. I’ll see you Saturday night when Union hosts Brown.
Good Night! Good Hockey!