Daily Gazette fantasy draft: Union men’s hockey

Clockwise: Mat Bodie, Shayne Gostisbehere, Mike Vecchione and Daniel Carr.
Clockwise: Mat Bodie, Shayne Gostisbehere, Mike Vecchione and Daniel Carr.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

Union College men’s hockey is developing a rich history.

The run the Dutchmen had last decade was a great ride. Four consecutive ECAC Hockey regular-season titles (2011-14), three consecutive ECACH tournament championships (2012-14), four NCAA appearances (2011-14), two Frozen Fours (2012 and 2014) and one NCAA title in 2014.

Just like with last Sunday’s boys’ high school basketball draft, we decided to have a Union hockey fantasy draft. For this draft, we focused on Union’s Division I years, which started in 1991-92. The participants selected three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie.

A quick introduction on the selectors:

Ken Schott: Currently The Daily Gazette’s Associate Sports Editor and host of “The Parting Schotts Podcast,” Schott covered the Dutchmen for 25 years, beginning with the start of the program’s Division I life. He saw a lot of Dutchmen losses in the early years, but then saw the program become elite, culminating with the 2014 NCAA title.

Mike MacAdam: Staff writer and columnist, MacAdam has covered Union since the 2016-17 season.

Josh Seguin: Covers ECAC Hockey for College Hockey News (collegehockeynews.com), and is a frequent guest on “The Parting Schotts Podcast.”

Brian Unger: A 1993 Union College graduate, Unger is the analyst for the Dutchmen’s ESPN+ telecasts. He has been the analyst since 2005, and called games when he was a student on the college’s radio station.

With all the introductions out of the way, here we go. Seguin gets the first pick.


Seguin takes . . . Shayne Gostisbehere, defenseman (2011-14)

When picking great players to be part of a team, having guys that will come through in the biggest moment is paramount. Gostisbehere’s +7 rating in the 2014 National Championship game is a mark that will never, ever be touched again, unless of course the game of hockey changes in a way that one doesn’t anticipate. His championship game performance will probably go down as one of the better ones in my lifetime.

The period he manned the blueline for the Dutchmen was the best period in the program’s history. Obviously, the national title was sweet and capped off a great career, but from 2012-2014, the Dutchmen won a three-peat of Whitelaw Cups, as the tournament champion, won a pair of Cleary Cups, as the regular season champion and made a pair of Frozen Fours. Not a bad run of three years for any player.

Gostisbehere had 22 goals and 60 assists in his time in Schenectady. Not only is he arguably the best player in the history of the program, he has also played in 340 career NHL games, all with the Flyers. He has more NHL games played, goals (51), assists (148) and points (199) than any other player in Union’s program history.

Unger takes . . . Daniel Carr, forward (2010-14)

He is no longer the leader in all-time points for Union, but plain and simple, he is the greatest winner and hardest competitor the team ever had. There is no national championship without him.

Carr collected 157 points on 78 goals and 79 assists. He scored 20 or more goals in three of his four seasons. And he was durable; Carr missed just three games his entire career.

He had a memorable NHL debut for the Montreal Canadiens, scoring on his first NHL shot Dec. 5, 2015, against the Carolina Hurricanes.

MacAdam takes . . . Mike Vecchione, forward (2013-17)

He was a Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalist in 2016-17 after finishing his career with a 29-34-63 senior year that is a school single-season record for goals and points. Those totals also boosted his career numbers to school records, with 176 points and 105 assists.

I’m not just being a stat rat here: Vecchione’s four short-handed goals that year are a single-season record, and his seven game-winners on a team that went 25-10-3 ties him for second-most in a season. One of those was a penalty shot in overtime to eliminate Princeton in the ECACH quarterfinals — his last game at Messa Rink — for which he made SportsCenter’s nightly top-10 highlights.

Bonus points as a freshman for scoring the goal that tied Minnesota 2-2 in the 7-4 national championship victory.

Schott takes . . . Mat Bodie, defenseman (2010-14)

Bodie was the unquestioned leader of the Dutchmen during their streak of three straight ECAC Hockey tournament championships. He served as team captain his junior and seniors seasons, and helped lead the Dutchmen to the 2014 NCAA title.

Bodie is the program’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 124 on 28 goals and 96 assists. He was also a super defenseman who never seemed to be out of position. It was appropriate that he scored the final goal, an empty-netter, to seal the 7-4 win over Minnesota in the 2014 NCAA title game.

And how’s this for being cool under pressure: He did a live interview on the morning edition of “SportsCenter” the day of the championship game.


Schott takes . . . Daniel Ciampini, forward (2011-15)

After not doing much his first two years, Ciampini blossomed during his junior and senior seasons, collecting 91 points on 49 goals and 42 assists. He led the team in scoring his senior year with 50 points on 26 goals and 24 assists. Ciampini finished his career with 118 points on 63 goals and 55 assists.

Ciampini was a rock in the 2014 Final Four. He had a hat trick, including the game-winning goal, in the 5-4 semifinal win over Boston College. In the title game against Minnesota, Ciampini’s goal capped an three-goal outburst in 1:53 late in the first period that gave the Dutchmen a 4-2 lead.

MacAdam takes . . . Jeremy Welsh, forward (2009-12)

It came as little surprise when Welsh left Union for the pros after his junior season.

He was named Most Outstanding Player for the ECACH semis and final in Atlantic City in 2012 while in the midst of a five-game goal-scoring streak that helped carry the Dutchmen to the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida. In the NCAA East Regional, Welsh scored the game-winner in a 3-1 victory over Michigan State and had a goal in a 4-2 win over UMass Lowell to send Union to the Frozen Four.

Still stands seventh in career goals (53) despite playing just three seasons.

Unger takes . . . Spencer Foo, forward (2014-17)

Foo’s career was highlighted by his junior season, when he scored 26 goals and 36 assists for 62 points, one behind Mike Vecchione.

An absolute dominant and unstoppable force on the wing. Neck and neck the best player in all of college hockey with his teammate Vecchione that season.

Foo finished with 112 points on 49 goals and 63 assists. He left after his junior year to sign with the Calgary Flames.

Seguin takes . . . Wayne Simpson, forward (2009-13)

Like many of the others near the top of this list, Simpson was a key piece to the Union glory years. He finished his career 10th on the Union all-time scoring charts with 115 points in 119 games, and he is fifth in goals with 56. Simpson was a part of the first Union team to make the NCAA tournament, in 2011, and was a part of Union’s ECACH championship teams in 2012 and 2013.

He was never a flashy player, like say a Daniel Carr, Mike Vecchione or Daniel Ciampini, but he was a consistent player that you knew would perform at his highest level every night. He had over 15 goals and 30 points in each of his final three years in Schenectady, never having the standout season that others in the Leaman/Bennett eras used to propel them higher on this list. Simpson was a journeyman in the AHL and ECHL, playing five years in the AHL and another pair in the ECHL. He now plays in the German DEL for Ingolstadt and has never played in the NHL, which is quite surprising given his many good years in the ECHL and AHL.


Seguin takes . . . Troy Grosenick, goalie (2010-13)

Picking a goaltender for this team was one of the most difficult decisions, because there are two that are clearly above the rest. Grosenick won my pick because he won two ECAC championships (2012, 2013), made the NCAA tournament in each of his years at the helm and was a Hobey top-10 Finalist in 2012. Grosenick, despite only playing two seasons, finished as one of the more decorated players in program’s history, as along with his league championships, he was the Ken Dryden Award winner in 2012, was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 ECAC tournament and was a first team All-American in 2012.

He had 49 wins over two years and was one of the best goaltenders in the country over his two seasons. He was never a mainstay in the NHL, only playing two games, but has played seven seasons in the AHL. He won the AHL’s best goaltender award with the San Jose Barracuda in 2017-18.

Unger takes . . . Keith Kinkaid, goalie (2009-11)

Perhaps more famous for his post collegiate career in the NHL, Kinkaid brought Union to the promised land, a berth in the NCAA tournament and started a string of goaltending at Union that is unparalleled.

In his two years, Kinkaid posted a 37-18- 6 record with a 2.18 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and four shutouts in 63 career games.

MacAdam takes . . . Jeff Taylor, defenseman (2013-17)

A Capital Region product via Clifton Park and Albany Academy, Taylor was assistant captain as a junior in 2015-16 and as a senior in 2016-17, and fit the prototype of Union defensemen who are mobile and contribute on offense.

As a sophomore, he was fifth in the NCAA in points per game (0.91) among blueliners and finished his career at 18-74-92, the second-highest point total by a defenseman in team history and tied for seventh in career assists at any position. He was named to the ECACH All-Rookie team as a freshman in 2013-14, and had the primary assist on Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal to tie Minnesota 1-1 in the national championship game.

Schott takes . . . Andrew Will, defenseman (1993-97)

Will was part of two of Union’s most successful teams in the 1990s. In his freshman year, the team’s third at the Division I level, the Dutchmen finished sixth to make the ECACH tournament for the first time (back then, 10 of the 12 teams made the postseason). He was the captain of the 1996-97 squad which, under first-year head coach Stan Moore, finished a then program-best fifth place.

Will was a solid defenseman who had some offensive talent. He was recognized as the co-winner of the ECACH Best Defensive Defenseman Award in 1997.


Schott takes . . . Colin Stevens, goalie (2011-15)

A Niskayuna native, Stevens was the netminder for the team’s national championship. He came to Union a year early following sophomore Keith Kinkaid’s departure to the New Jersey Devils after the 2010-11 season.

After spending his first two years backing up Troy Grosenick, Stevens became the No. 1 goalie for the 2013-14 season after Grosenick left following his junior year to sign with the San Jose Sharks. In that championship year, Stevens was 28-4-2 with a 2.05 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and six shutouts.

Stevens finished his career with a 53-24-6 record, a 2.58 GAA, a .909 save percentage and 11 shutouts.

MacAdam takes . . . Kelly Zajac, forward (2008-12)

Zajac was a consistently productive player for four seasons, during which the program improved from an ECACH quarterfinal appearance to the Frozen Four.

He ranks third in career assists (91) and fourth in points (128) while having played 159 games, tied for second-most in program history, in part a testament to the postseason runs Union made during his time there. Had at least 20 points in all four seasons.

Capital Region bonus points for signing with the Albany Devils right out of college.

Unger takes . . . Adam Presizniuk, forward (2007-11)

An underrated player who played a crucial role through his four years from transitioning Union hockey from a run-of-the-mill program (at best) to a national power.

He had 131 points in four years and was a main cog in Union’s first-ever playoff series victory, first-ever trip to the ECAC Hockey finals, first-ever Cleary Cup and first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament.

Presizniuk won the league’s Best Defensive Forward in 2010-11.

Seguin takes . . . Mario Valery-Trabucco, forward (2006-10)

Another player in the transitional years of the Union program, Valery-Trabucco had a monster 2009-10 season, which helped the Dutchmen to its first 20-win year in program history.

Valery-Trabucco is fourth on Union’s all-time goal scoring list with 59 and is 12th in points with 114. During the aforementioned 2009-10 season, Valery-Trabucco scored 23 goals, assisted on another 22, generated 152 shots and was a +22 on the season. He was seventh in the country in goals that season.


Seguin takes . . . Josh Jooris, forward (2010-13)

Jooris only played three seasons at Union, but his impact was significant on some very good Dutchmen teams. His impact, like Keith Kinkaid, has largely been made in pro hockey. Jooris is second among former Union players in games played in the NHL with 213 and has also spent time in the AHL. He is also second in NHL goals and points, to Shayne Gostisbehere, among former Union players.

Jooris was a key cog to the 2012 and 2013 ECAC championship teams. While he was never explosive, he was consistent from night to night. He scored the eventual game-winner to send the Dutchmen to the 2012 Frozen Four. He had 29 goals and 59 assists in 117 games in Schenectady and was a plus player in each season, finishing a +26 in his career.

Unger takes . . . Lane Caffaro, defenseman (2005-09)

Flashy? No.

Highlight-real material? No.

Classic stay-at-home, no-nonsense defensemen who infused grit and passion throughout his entire team? Yes.

A top-tier defensemen who was an anchor on the blueline for those Union teams that helped transitioned the program into the national spotlight. First Team All-ECACH in 2009 and Second Team All-ECACH in 2008. One of the nastiest defensemen I’ve seen don a Union jersey. Nobody liked playing against him.

MacAdam takes . . . Nick DeSimone, defenseman (2014-17)

Would’ve been nice to see what he could’ve done if he had stuck around for his senior season, but DeSimone was a smooth blueliner with good offensive production (15-33-48) for three seasons and didn’t miss a game as a sophomore and junior.

Has been playing with the AHL San Jose Barracuda the last four seasons, and right out of Union saw action in 13 Calder Cup Playoff games as San Jose reached the Western Conference finals.

Schott takes . . . Jason Walters, forward (2006-10)

A consistent point producer during his four years, Walters had a career-high 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points in 2009-10, when the Dutchmen reached their first ECAC Hockey tournament championship game. He led the team that season with four game-winning goals.

Probably Walters’ most memorable goal occurred Nov. 28, 2009, when he scored the overtime game-winner, tipping a Stephane Boileau pass past goalie Allen York, for a 5-4 victory over RPI in the championship game of the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament. It was his second goal of the game, to go along with two assists, and came with 1:21 left in OT. It came a day after he served a one-game suspension for violation of team rules, one of seven players who were penalized by head coach Nate Leaman. Walters earned the tournament’s most valuable player.


Schott takes . . . Jordan Webb, forward (2001-05)

Webb was the first top forward of the 21st century for the Dutchmen. He is tied for ninth with Mario Valery-Trabucco in all-time scoring among Union Division I players with 114 points on 55 goals and 59 assists. Formed a good 1-2 punch with Joel Beal, another 100-point man.

Webb led the team in scoring three straight seasons (2003-05). He scored 17 goals in a season twice. Webb is third all-time in power-play goals for Union with 22.

MacAdam takes . . . Alex Sakellaropoulos, goalie (2013-17)

Sakellaropoulos compiled a 40-22-13 record and even played in eight games during the 2013-14 national championship season as a freshman.

Ranks fourth (.914) in career save percentage and fifth in goals GAA (2.54) all-time at Union and compiled a sparkling 22-6-2 record as a senior, when the Dutchmen reached the NCAAs as an at-large.

Unger takes . . . Brock Matheson, defenseman (2007-11)

D-men are often noticeable for offensive impact (Ghost, Bodie, Taylor, etc.), but with my final pick, I’m going the stay-at-home and leadership route. Nobody personifies this better than Matheson.

A two-year team captain, Second Team All-ECACH in 2010 and winner of the ECACH Defensive Defenseman of the year award in 2011 (only one of three Union players to ever win this award).

Another key player who did the heavy lifting of elevating Union to a national power, and a guy Nate Leaman never hesitated to put on the ice when the game was on the line.

Seguin takes . . . Mike Schreiber, defenseman (2006-10)

With the final pick in the draft, I will choose defenseman Mike Schreiber, who was a mainstay on the Dutchmen blueline in the late 2000s.

A key player in the turnaround under Nate Leaman, the undersized, shifty defender had a great 2010 season, which saw him contribute 29 points. That season, Schreiber was a +26 blueline and helped lead Union to its best season, ever, at the time, where they picked up 20 wins for the first time in program history.

The Alberta native played in 147 games for the Dutchmen, collected 17 goals and contributed 61 assists. He is now fifth in scoring, among defenders, in Union’s hockey history.

Editor’s note: In future weeks, we plan to conduct more Daily Gazette fantasy drafts covering other regional sports, programs and athletes. If readers have any suggestions for topics they’d like to see examined, please send them to [email protected].

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