SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — The Mercyhurst Lakers withstood a late charge by Union to earn their first point vs. a member of the “Big Four” conferences after a 2-2 tie with the Dutchmen on Friday evening.
“I’m as happy as you could be with a tie,” Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said. “This particular team, I can’t speak for other MAAC teams, but this team, the learning curve is getting smaller for us. Back a year ago when we went to Ohio State and we lost 5-3, we were awful. We’ve gotten better each time we played one of the major conference teams and we got better tonight.”
“It was one we expected to win,” Union captain Bryan Yackel said. “We worked hard in practice this week and we should have won this one, so we’re not happy at all, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles some nights.”
“I’m sure they are happy with the point they got, I’m sure not happy with the point we got,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We couldn’t make a tape-to-tape pass for two periods. Guys were standing around and not moving their feet. We played very nonchalant and we didn’t play our style of hockey at all.”
The Dutchmen got off on the right foot, though, as a power play less than a minute into the game gave the Dutchmen an opportunity and they capitalized. Seamus Galligan sent a pass across the mouth of the crease to a waiting Jeff Wilson. Wilson had enough time to settle the puck down and put it past Laker goaltender Peter Aubry as he was coming back across the crease from his left.
The game remained that way until the second period, when a faceoff win by Laker Jeff Gould saw him take the puck towards Dutchmen goaltender Brandon Snee. He quickly fed the puck across to his left and Adam Tackaberry tapped the puck into an open net to tie the game at 1.
Nine minutes later, the Lakers took the lead on the power play. Louis Goulet received the puck at the blue line, deked a few Dutchmen and walked right into the bottom of the right circle. He quickly snapped a shot that clanged off the post and past Snee on the short side.
Minutes later, the Dutchmen tied the game at 2 when Glen Sanders fired from the blue line and Jeff Hutchins redirected the puck past Aubry.
“We were starting to dump the puck, but we couldn’t get to the dumps and we finally found a way to get in and pressure their defensemen and cycle with the puck and that created chances for us,” Gotkin said about the turnaround in the second period.
The Dutchmen pressured the Lakers with shot after shot in the last five minutes of the third period and the overtime, but could not push the puck past Aubry for the game-winning goal.
“I thought we looked real sluggish and I don’t think we played hard at all,” Sneddon said. “I thought they outworked us for two-and-a-half periods. We started to show life at the end but if we played that way for 60 minutes the result would have been different.”
“Any time you get a chance to come in and play the No. 13 team in the nation, you never know what is going to happen,” Gotkin said. “We wanted to play them hard to finish our checks. There were some scary moments for us down there, but there were some scary moments for them too.
“I really like the way we played and [I'm] disappointed that we didn’t find a way to win this game. And if we’re going to be a good team, we have to find a way to win these games.”
“I don’t think we took them lightly because we pounded it home all week that they were coming in here but I don’t think we realized how hard they were going to come,” Sneddon said. “They outhit us for two-and-a-half periods and they deserve all the credit.
“They really deserved the point they got tonight and we didn’t deserve the point we got. They’re an up-and-coming program and the MAAC is doing a nice job, especially the top programs.”
Mercyhurst (5-1-2) is 1-0-1 lifetime against Union, with a 5-4 win coming in the 1990 Division III West playoffs, and will head across the river to play Rensselaer on Saturday night. Union (5-1-1) will head to UMass-Lowell for a non-conference game.
“We’ve got some thinking to do on the bus, that’s for sure,” Sneddon said.