SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — The defensive effort was much better. But the result was the same for Union.
The Dutchmen made a conscious effort to play a stronger game in front of goalie Brandon Snee on Friday against St. Lawrence at Achilles Rink than they did Tuesday against UMass-Lowell. Although they dropped a 5-2 ECAC decision to the Saints, which extended their winless streak to 10 games (0-8-2), the Dutchmen, sporting their new black and maroon 10th anniversary jerseys, played a much more physical game than they did three nights earlier.
And that pleased Union coach Kevin Sneddon.
“I’ve got nothing negative to say about [the effort],” Sneddon said. “I’m proud of them. We were warriors tonight.”
That wasn’t the case during their 5-3 loss to UMass-Lowell. The Dutchmen (6-9-3, 3-5-1 ECAC) allowed four of the River Hawks’ five goals from five feet in front of Snee. Sneddon wasn’t happy about the effort in that game, and he made lineup changes against the Saints (6-7-3, 3-1-2).
Defensemen Randy Dagenais and Charles Simard were scratched from the lineup. Senior Alex Todd, who has been playing forward all season, was shifted to defense, the position he had been playing for the first two years of his college career.
Those changes, and a hard two days of practices, seemed to get the message across to the players.
“We focused on playing strong in our ‘D’ zone,” Union defenseman Doug Christiansen said. “That same intensity carried over tonight.”
St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh agreed. He also believes the Dutchmen will be a dangerous playoff team.
“They’re a good team,” Marsh said. “They work so hard. Our guys have a tremendous amount of respect for Union. They finish every check.”
But the Saints’ offense proved too much for the Dutchmen to overcome.
The Saints took a 1-0 lead on Matt Desrosiers’ power-play goal at 13:44 of the first period. Jeff Wilson tied it for Union at 4:20 of the second period with a power-play goal, ending an 0-for-13 streak with the man advantage.
Mike Gellard broke the tie with 4:53 left in the second, one-timing an Allie Skelley pass from behind the goal line past Snee. Russ Bartlett’s power-play goal less than three minutes later gave the Saints a two-goal lead.
Todd cut the lead to one at 5:50 of the third period when his wrist shot from the right point beat goalie Jeremy Symington under the crossbar. But Charlie Daniels regained the two-goal cushion when he scored with 4:08 left.
Alan Fyfe, who had three assists, added an empty-net goal with 6.4 seconds left.
“In terms of preparation, that’s one of the best games we’ve had in a long time,” Union co-captain Bryan Yackel said. “We came out and we played them hard for 60 minutes. We never like to take a loss, but we can walk away from this knowing we gave our best effort. We’re encouraged by that, and it’s back to work tomorrow against Clarkson.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.