Union-Dartmouth Game 1 postgame report (with 4 videos)
A recap of Union’s 3-0 win over Dartmouth in Game 1 of the ECAC Hockey tournament quarterfinals on Friday at Messa Rink.
Even though his team defeated the Big Green, Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett seemed agitated.
For the most part, the Dutchmen played well. They had plenty of opportunities to score. Dartmouth goalie Charles Grant was outstanding, making 39 saves.
Goalie Colin Stevens posted his second straight shutout with a 32-save effort. No save was bigger than the highway-robbery glove stop on Eric Neiley from the left circle during a Dartmouth power play. Neiley was all alone during the four-on-three that was created when Shayne Gostisbehere held Tim O’Brien, and then Mike Vecchione knocked down O’Brien for a roughing call with 7:55 left in regulation. The Dutchmen went from having a power play — Jesse Beamish went off for goalie interference at with 8:32 left — to being a man down and, eventually, two men down.
Maybe Bennett was unhappy about that. Or that he believed Union let up a bit after it Michael Pontarelli scored a power-play goal early in the second period. Dartmouth, which was outshot, 18-6, in the first, had a 15-13 shot advantage in the second.
But an innocent question about freshman center Eli Lichtenwald’s status seemed to send Bennett’s postgame press conference south. Lichtenwald missed the game an injury.
“Middle-body injury,” Bennett said. “Week-to-week, day-to-day, pick one.”
After a question about Daniel Carr’s penalty shot goal late in the third period, the question about the difficulty of eliminating a team came up.
“There a re lot of cliches about trying to finish off a team,” Bennett said. “I think we have a lot of experience in that department. But that is just experience, that’s all it is. We have to bring it tomorrow. We need to sharpen up. We need to be more detailed to give ourselves a chance to win.
“I don’t want to even talk about the win. I want to talk about us just being better. I just feel we need to be better. Once we got the power play goal, maybe it’s human nature [to let up]. You’ve got the 1-zip lead, but you stuck to it. A question that was asked of me earlier of sticking to it, and there you go. Yeah, we weren’t successful on the first four [power plays], but we got one there on the fifth. That’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to battle through that stuff. And we’ve got to learn to battle through that.”
For the record, Union had three power plays in the first period and scored on its fourth opportunity, which came in the second.
Bennett wasn’t done.
“We’re coming in with all these accolades and everything else. We’ve got to put that away. We’ve got to stop reading the press and all that jazz. We have to worry about Union hockey.”
And that was a wrap. Yes, Bennett didn’t seem pleased. But it’s that time of year that teams can be satisfied. Take a shift off, and it can cost you.
Bennett is keeping his team focused on the next goal, winning a third straight Whitelaw Cup. He wants them hungry. Judging by his words, he will have the players ready to eliminate the Big Green on Saturday.
Streaks and records
— Union extended its overall unbeaten streak to 10 games (9-0-1). It’s the longest in the nation.
— The Dutchmen have won 11 straight at Messa, also tops in the country.
— Stevens extended his shutout steak to 129:07, and the team’s to 189:07. Union posted three straight shutouts for the first time in Division I history.
— Stevens’ shutout was his sixth of the season, a club record. The old mark was five first set by Kris Mayotte in 2005-06 and tied by Troy Grosenick in 2011-12.
I have four postgame videos.
To see Carr’s penalty shot goal, click here.
To see Bennett’s press conference, click here.
To see the press conference with Carr, Stevens and Max Novak, click here.
To see Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet’s press conference, click here.
My three stars of the game:
1) Colin Stevens, Union goalie — Made 32 saves for sixth shutout of season and second in a row.
2) Daniel Carr, Union left winger — Scored twice, including one on a penalty shot.
3) Charles Grant, Dartmouth goalie — Stopped 39 shots.
That is all from Messa Rink. I’ll be back with you Saturday night for Game 2.
Good Night! Good Hockey!