Dutchmen fly to ECAC title in Lake Placid
LAKE PLACID – Union College kicked off Lake Placid’s three-year run of hosting the Eastern College Athletic Conference men’s ice hockey championships by winning its third straight league title with a 5-2 victory over Colgate Saturday at the Olympic Center.
In front of a crowd of 4,850 at Herb Brooks Arena, the top-seeded Flying Dutchmen scored four unanswered goals starting in the second period to grab a 4-0 lead, and then sealed the win with an empty-netter after the Raiders tallied twice late in the third period.
With the win, Union became the third team to win at least three consecutive titles in the 53-year history of the ECAC championships. Cornell and Boston University were the other two squads that achieved the feat, both stringing together four straight crowns. The Big Red did it from 1967-1970 and the Terriers’ run lasted from 1974-1977.
Colgate came out firing and held a 16-5 edge in shots on goal in the first period, but failed to get any pucks past Union netminder Colin Stevens. Colgate put the game’s first eight shots on net, with Union not getting its first shot on goal until midway through the opening period.
The Dutchmen made the Raiders pay for coming up empty early by netting three straight goals in the second period and adding another at the 7:30 mark of the third to put the game out of reach.
“If we got one or two in the first, it might have played out differently,” Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said. “Obviously, they came out hard in the second.”
Once Matt Hatch opened the scoring at the 11:17 mark of the second period, the goals came quickly for the Dutchmen, who improved to 28-6-4 and are ranked second in the NCAA Division I standings.
Hatch, who also had an assist in the game, started a three-goal outburst for Union in a span of less than five minutes that ultimately proved to be the beginning of the end for the Raiders.
Hatch gave Union its 1-0 lead when he stuffed a pass from Kevin Sullivan into an open right side of the net past Colgate goalie Charlie Quinn, and Daniel Carr upped the Union edge to 2-0 with a power-play goal at the 13:51 mark. Carr’s goal came on a shot from the right faceoff circle just nine seconds after Colgate’s Darcy Murphy went to the penalty box on a high-sticking call.
Less than two minutes later, Daniel Ciampini converted a pass from Carr to put the Dutchmen in command with a three-goal lead.
Mike Vecchione gave Union a 4-0 lead when he scored at the 7:30 mark of the third period.
Colgate made a little run late, with Spiro Goulakos finally putting the Raiders on the board with a goal at the 12:49 mark of the third period. With Finn pulled from the nets, the Raiders scored again when Murphy buried a shot with 2:46 remaining to make it a 4-2 contest. But Colgate, which advanced to the title game following a dramatic 3-2 double-overtime win over Quinnipiac Friday, saw its last glimmers of hopes disappear when Union’s Max Novak scored the game’s final goal when he slid a puck into an empty net with 2:13 left in the game.
“We had to weather the storm,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said. “I thought Colgate came out with a little bit of jump. I think that fed off from the night before. They were on a big high, and I think that carried through to the first period.”
Stevens, a junior from Niskayuna who has recorded six shutouts this season, made 31 saves to earn the win in goal for Union. Finn recorded 24 saves in goal for Colgate, which dropped to 20-13-5 with the setback.
With the win, Union improved to 13-0-1 in its last 14 games. The Dutchmen outscored their two opponents over the weekend by a 10-4 margin. They defeated Cornell 5-2 in Friday’s first semifinal.
“I want to congratulate Union, not only on the championship but on the season they had and the run they had recently,” Vaughan said. “They proved again tonight how good they are.”
Five of the six players named to the ECAC championship all-tournament team were from Union. Carr, who finished with a goal and two assists in the final was a selection at forward as well as the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player. Vecchione was a pick at forward, Stevens was named the tournament’s top goaltender and Mat Bodie and Shayne Gostisbehere were defensive picks. Sophomore forward Tyson Spink of Colgate was the third forward named on the list.
Despite falling in the championship game, Colgate did receive some good news Sunday when it was awarded an at-large bid to the 16-team NCAA Division I championship tournament. The Raiders were one of three teams competing over the weekend in Lake Placid that advanced into the tourney, with Quinnipiac also moving on.
Union is the top seed in the East and takes on Vermont Friday at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. Quinnipiac, which owns a 24-9-6 record, is the East’s second-seed and will square off against Providence in a game also being played Friday in Bridgeport.
Colgate will head to Cincinnati, Ohio as the third seed in the Midwest region. The Raiders will take on Ferris State Friday.
Minnesota is the top overall seed and will stay home to play in the West Regional in St. Paul, Minn. Boston College is the Northeast Regional No. 1 seed and Wisconsin is the fourth No. 1 seed.