Union-Clarkson postgame report (with 3 videos)
Everything Union needed to have happen to get a fourth straight ECAC Hockey tournament first-round bye came to fruition Saturday night.
And, after a roller coaster regular season, the Dutchmen deserved the bye. And they needed it, too.
The Dutchmen clinched the first-round bye with a 4-0 win over Clarkson before a standing-room only crowd of 2,371 at Messa Rink in the final game of the regular season.
Union came into the game in a three-way tie with Dartmouth and St. Lawrence for fourth place and the final bye spot. If the teams remained tied after the conclusion of Saturday’s games, the Dutchmen would have lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with Dartmouth, having earned just a point in the two meetings. Union would have had to play in he best-of-three first round next weekend.
But plenty of things broke the Dutchmen’s way. RPI took down St. Lawrence, 4-1. That was the same score that regular season-champion Quinnipiac won by over Dartmouth. By the time those games were over, Union was firmly in command against Clarkson.
Give big credit to sophomore goalie Colin Stevens and junior right winger Kevin Sullivan.
Stevens, the Niskayuna native, stopped 24 shots to earn his third shutout of the season. He got the start because Troy Grosenick wasn’t fully healed from the injury he suffered Friday against St. Lawrence. Stevens made 10 saves early on as Clarkson was buzzing.
Sullivan scored twice. He was in the right place at the right time — down low at the net — for both of his goals. He took a Matt Hatch pass and had his first shot stopped by goalie Greg Lewis. Sullivan got the rebound and backhanded it home at 5:27 of the second period.
He was in position for another rebound, this time off a Daniel Carr shot, that he put in for a power-play goal at 6:24 of the third period to make it 3-0. If Sullivan continues to play like that, and he’s had a good final month of the season, he will be a very effective player in the postseason.
And give credit to Wayne Simpson. Sure, the senior right winger scored a first-period power-play goal. But it was his backchecking midway through the third period that stood out to me. He caught up to TJ Moor, who was going in alone on Stevens. Simpson got enough of Moor’s stick to prevent a good scoring chance.
As I said earlier, Union needed the bye. Now, they can get some Grosenick and senior defenseman Shawn Stuart healthy. Stuart returned to the lineup after missing for games with an injured ankle, only because sophomore defenseman Charlie Vasaturo got hurt Friday. Vasaturo is on crutches, and his return this season looks doubtful.
Tickets for Union’s quarterfinal series will go on sale online starting today at noon at www.unionathletics.com. Click on the ticket link. Box office sales start Monday. The box office will be open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday this week. Next week, the box office will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. until game time Friday and 4 p.m. until game time Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets can also be purchased by phone (388-6020) or fax (388-6695).
All-session passes are $36 for adults and $18 for students. Individual game tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students.
Lost in the shuffle of clinching the bye and Senior Night was that Carr had two assists to reach the 100 career points. Carr got the 100th point when he assisted on Josh Jooris’ late third-period goal.
Carr becomes the 10th Union Division I player to reach 100 career points, and the second to do it in his junior season. Jeremy Welsh did it last year.
The Dutchmen are tied for 16th in the PairWise Rankings.
RPI, with its 4-1 win over St. Lawrence, is tied for 14th.
It’s getting interesting.
Here are the matchups for the best-of-three ECACH tournament first-round series. Games will be Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday.
No. 12 Harvard at No. 5 Dartmouth
No. 11 Colgate at No. 6 St. Lawrence
No. 10 Clarkson at No. 7 Brown
No. 9 Cornell at No. 8 Princeton
Kotyra hangs up whistle
Veteran referee Tim Kotyra called his final college game Saturday. He was a referee in the conference for over 20 years. He worked 15 ECACH playoffs and had two NCAA Frozen Four title games. Kotyra also worked the 1998 Olympics.
I have three postgame videos.
To see Bennett’s press conference, click here.
To see the press conference with Stevens, Sullivan and Simpson, click here.
To see Union’s Cole Ikkala get a penalty shot late in the game, click here.
My three stars of the game:
1) Colin Stevens, Union goalie — Stopped 24 shots for his third shutout of the season.
2) Kevin Sullivan, Union right winger — Scored twice.
3) Daniel Carr, Union left winger — Had two assists to reach 100 career points.
That’s all from Messa Rink. Look for my College Hockey Slap Schotts blog Monday, where I will break down the first round of the ECACH tournament.
Good Night! Good Hockey!