College hockey: Depth in crease a plus for Union
SCHENECTADY It’s nice when a team has the luxury of having not one, but two quality goalies, especially when one of them goes down with an injury.
Junior Troy Grosenick and sophomore Colin Stevens have complemented each other well this season. When Grosenick has gone down with an injury, Stevens, a Niskayuna native, has filled in very well. That was evident March 2, when Stevens got the start against Clarkson a night after Grosenick suffered a lower-body injury against St. Lawrence. Stevens shut out the Golden Knights, 4-0, to help the Dutchmen earn the fourth and final first-round bye for the ECAC Hockey tournament.
The 19th-ranked Dutchmen (17-12-5) begin defense of their ECACH tournament title Friday when they host fifth-seeded Dartmouth (15-12-5) in Game 1 of the best-of-three quarterfinals at Messa Rink.
“Two goaltenders of that ability is very nice to have,” Union coach Rick Bennett said Tuesday at a press conference at Messa.
“It’s definitely huge for any team,” Stevens said. “Having guys that you can rotate, and having either guy in net and the guys having confidence is huge. Troy and I have the utmost confidence in each other.”
Grosenick, who is 12-9-5 with a 2.22 goals-against average, a .920 save percentage and one shutout, said his lower-body injury is feeling better, and he hopes he can make the start Friday. Grosenick left midway through the third period of Union’s 5-1 win over St. Lawrence after allowing Chris Martin’s goal.
“I feel I’m back to 100 percent,” Grosenick said. “It’s a matter of getting back to practice and battling hard, and preparing for this weekend.”
Injuries have been a pain to Grosenick. In November, he hurt his right leg against Harvard. Last season, when he won the Ken Dryden Award as the league’s top goalie, Grosenick missed a few games because of an ankle injury.
“It doesn’t bother me so much that I have to play through that,” Grosenick said. “It bothers me when I have to miss a game. Any competitor is not going to like missing out on a game, especially because of an injury. You always want to contribute what you can to the team, especially when you feel like you have a lot to contribute.”
Stevens is 5-3 with a 1.62 GAA and a .931 save percentage. Three of his wins have been by shutout.
“Getting the freshman year under my belt, that helped a lot,” Stevens said. “Getting any game time helps. The only way you can get better is from playing. You need game experience. It’s invaluable. And I feel a lot more confident this year.”
Grosenick and Stevens have an excellent relationship.
“We push each other in practice, and we feed off of each other a lot,” Stevens said. “We both benefit from that.”
“It’s been an awesome experience being here two years with him,” Grosenick said. “And he’s a great guy on and off the ice. You can’t ask for a better goalie partner than that.”
Bennett hasn’t decided on a starter yet. He will make that decision Friday.
“Both goaltenders look very good in practice,” Bennett said. “It’s been very nice balance there.”
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet will have an interesting decision to make in goal, too.
Junior Cab Morris and freshman Charles Grant have shared playing time. Morris has appeared in 18 games and has an 8-7-3 record with a 2.10 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and one shutout. Grant has played in 14 games, and he is 7-5-2 with a 2.62 GAA, a .914 save percentage and one shutout.
Morris was 8-3-1 after a 5-1 win over Clarkson on Jan. 26, but is 0-4-2 in his last six games, including Friday’s 2-1 loss to Harvard in Game 1 of the first-round series. He made 22 saves.
Grant has had the better record, going 4-1-1 in his last six games. He was in goal for the Big Green’s victories over the Crimson Saturday and Sunday.
“Cab Morris played a great on Friday night against Harvard,” Gaudet said. “I thought he was outstanding. It’s going to be a tough choice, actually. They’ve both been playing good hockey for us. I like them both.
“Chuck came in and did a nice job. It was a little bit of change of momentum.”
Morris played in both games against Union this season. But it doesn’t matter to the Dutchmen who will be in goal for the Big Green.
“There’s a lot of good goalies in this league,” Union senior forward Kyle Bodie said. “We’ve got a pretty good advantage. We face two pretty good ones in practice. One of the goals for us will be get a lot of pucks on net, and see how [Grant] plays through traffic.”