BURLINGTON, Vt. — Union’s Bryant Westerman was tired of seeing Vermont’s Chris Hills take runs at his teammates all game Saturday night.
Hills ran at goalies Marc Wise and Brandon Snee. He knocked defenseman Kurt Goodjohn out in the second period with a possible concussion, and defenseman Jason Kean with a concussion in the third of the Catamounts’ 6-3 ECAC win at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Westerman had seen enough. The senior forward hunted down Hills, pummeling him even when the assistant referees tried to break up the fight.
Westerman earned himself 32 penalty minutes — a minor for roughing, two fighting majors and two game disqualifications, which earns him a three-game suspension. With a roughing minor in the second, Westerman finished with a team- and ECAC-record 34 penalty minutes. The old league mark was 30, first set by Cornell’s Rob Levasseur against Colgate Jan. 21, 1987, and equalled by Union goalie Leeor Shtrom against Cornell Dec. 4, 1998.
Westerman and Hills were unavailable for comment after the penalty-filled game. The teams, who meet again Friday at Achilles Rink, combined for 29 penalties totalling 102 minutes.
“He [Hills] was taking shots at us,” said Union’s Jason Ralph, who had two goals and took a charging penalty before Westerman took over. “We just want to send a message, ‘That’s not going to be allowed, especially not our goalies.’ ”
Union coach Kevin Sneddon said he didn’t send Westerman after Hills. But Sneddon was proud of the way Westerman handled the situation.
“He did the right thing,” Sneddon said. “I’m not going to get mad at him for it. He’s a tough kid. When our guys are taken advantage of, guys should stick up for each other. We all felt that [Hills] was taking advantage of our guys. He had three pretty dangerous hits. To Westy’s credit, he’d seen enough.”
Hills received a fighting major and game DQ, which means he’ll miss the rematch. Vermont coach Mike Gilligan didn’t think that Westerman was ordered to get Hills.
“That staff would never do that,” Gilligan said.
Union (7-12-3, 3-8-1 ECAC) also lost Alex Todd to a game DQ for a major butt-ending penalty in the second period. It’s his second DQ of the season, which means he has a two-game suspension.
The Dutchmen took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Ralph and Jeff Wilson. But two goals by Patrick Sharp and one by Billy Kelly against Wise late in the first gave Vermont (10-10-1, 6-6-1) a 3-2 lead.
Snee replaced Wise at the start of the second. Ryan Cox scored a shorthanded goal at 13:11 of the second, but Ralph got that back when he tipped a Charles Simard shot past goalie Andrew Allen with three seconds left.
J.F. Caudron’s shorthanded goal 1:49 into the third gave Vermont a two-goal lead. John Longo added a power-play goal just under four minutes later.
The win snapped Vermont’s seven-game winless streak, including five straight losses, all in the league. The Catamounts had started the ECAC season 5-0-0 until the skid hit. It also moved Gilligan within one win of 400 for his career.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.