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by Ken Schott

Parting Schotts

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

Union-Dartmouth Game 1 pregame report

Good evening from Messa Rink, where the road to Lake Placid and the ECAC Hockey tournament championship round begins for Union as the Cleary Cup-champion Dutchmen face Dartmouth in Game 1 of the best-of-three quarterfinals.

Here’s the outlook on the game.

The third-ranked Dutchmen (24-6-4) are the top seed in the tournament for the third time in four years. They had last weekend off, which gave them a chance to rest some nagging injuries and get school work done. Final exams for the second trimester start Monday.

Union has a chance to make history in this tournament, either good or bad.

On the positive side, the Dutchmen are seeking to become just the third team in league history to win three straight Whitelaw Cups. The two teams who have done it are Cornell and Boston University. Both won four straight — Cornell got its four from 1967 to 1970. BU won from 1974 to 1977.

On the negative side, it was three years ago when a team pulled off the Capital Region Daily Double. Colgate was the 12th seed in 2011 when it upset No. 5 RPI in three games at Houston Field House. A week later, the Raiders did the same thing to top-seeded Union. Dartmouth has taken care of phase one of that by eliminating RPI last weekend.

But the Dutchmen aren’t worried about making any kind of history.

“I don’t even think we focus on anything like that,” left winger Daniel Carr said. “Right now, we’re trying to focus on [tonight] with Dartmouth coming in here.”

As I mentioned, Dartmouth ousted RPI last weekend. The Big Green (10-18-4) not only rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the series, they overcame a 4-2 third-period deficit in Game 3 by scoring three times in the third period.

The Big Green struggled mightily for most of the season. At one point, there 3-15-3. But they got on a roll in February, going 5-1-1.

Junior forward Eric Neiley leads the team in scoring with 16 goals and 12 assists. He was named ECACH player of the week Tuesday after collecting three goals and two assists against the Engineers.

Sophomore goalie Charles Grant is 9-11-3 with a 3.05 goals-against average, but his play last month was a key factor in the Big Green’s turnaround. He was the conference’s goalie of the month for February after going ..

Season series
Union won the two games in the regular season. The contests couldn’t have been more different.

The Dutchmen rolled to a 7-2 win in Hanover, N.H., on Nov. 1. The rematch Dec. 11 at Messa was more typical of a Dartmouth-Union game. It was tighter checking, and the Big Green had a 2-1 lead going into the third before the Dutchmen rallied for a 3-2 victory.

Union lineup
The good news for the Dutchmen is that center Max Novak is back in the lineup after missing the final five games of the regular season. The bad news is that center Eli Lichtenwald is out.

Forwards (LW-C-RW):
Daniel Carr/Mike Vecchione/Daniel Ciampini
Matt Wilkins/Sam Coatta/Michael Pontarelli
Matt Hatch/Max Novak/Kevin Sullivan
Cole Ikkala/David Roy/Nick Cruice

Mat Bodie/Sebastien Gingras
Shayne Gostisbehere/Jeff Taylor
Noah Henry/Charlie Vasaturo

Colin Stevens starts in goal

Dartmouth lineup
Forwards (LW-C-RW):
Brandon McNally/Eric Neiley/Grant Opperman
Jesse Beamish/Tyler Sikura/Charlie Mosey
Brad Schierhorn/Nick Bligh/Tim O’Brien
Connor Dempsey/Kyle Nickerson/Nick Lovejoy

Rick Pinkston/Andy Simpson
Josh Hartley/Taylor Boldt
Brandon Kirk/Geoff Ferguson

Grant starts in goal.

The officials
Harry Dumas and Andy O’Brien are the referees. Jim Briggs and Joe Testa are the linesmen.

Twitter and hashtags
Follow me on Twitter @slapschotts. The hashtags for the game are #UnionHockey, #DartmouthHockey and #ECACHockey. If you have questions before, during and after the game, please ask. I will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please like the “Slap Schotts College Hockey Segment" page on Facebook by clicking here, as well as The Daily Gazette On Ice Facebook page here.

Enjoy the game!

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