TAMPA, Fla. — Union’s attitude all season long was all business. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses have been failing lately — most recently, Dutchmen Hockey Inc.
“I don’t necessarily think they outplayed us, but obviously we didn’t do the things we needed to do,” sophomore wing Daniel Carr said after Union’s 3-1 loss to Ferris State in Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinals.
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The Bulldogs blocked 24 shots, outshot the higher seed 37-28 and served only two minutes in the box despite averaging 15.8 penalty minutes per game. Union, on the other hand, took four minors, allowing 12 shots on those penalty kills and one big goal.
“Penalties caught up to us again,” coach Rick Bennett said. “We had some jitters here and there. It’s one of those things: If you keep it simple, it takes care of the nerves. One thing we never really got in the game was finishing our hits. If you really want to get in the game, you’ve got to finish your hits. That’s something that we pride ourselves on, and tonight — maybe that [is on account] of some nerves as well.”
It’s easy to justify tentativeness, jumpiness, a little stick-strangling on the part of the Dutchmen. This was far and away the most successful season in the program’s Division I history, in front of the biggest crowd many of the players had ever entertained. But apologies and excuses were never permissible for the Schenectady club before Thursday, and it’s safe to say that they won’t be harbored in the future, either.
“We were pretty confident with the puck tonight, but unfortunately sometimes a little casual, I guess, in the slot areas. We had our chances, just didn’t get our shots off. Didn’t get ‘em where we wanted,” said star junior Jeremy Welsh.
“It was a little bit of a blend” of poor execution and poor composure, Bennett said. “I thought the second period, we were really going to go on a roll there … and then you take penalties, and you take yourself right out of the game.”
Union earned its way to the Frozen Four, but as so many teams have learned before, a ticket to the party only gets you in the door. Business is a whole lot fiercer when you’re finally on the floor.