SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union defenseman Jason Kean slammed his helmet on the bench last Saturday after he was knocked out of the game with a concussion on a hit by Vermont’s Chris Hills.
On Friday, Kean and his teammates earned some revenge in the rematch at Achilles Rink. Kean’s empty-net goal with 1.4 seconds left sealed a 3-1 ECAC victory for the Dutchmen.
“That’s big for him,” said Union forward Jeff Hutchins, whose second-period power-play goal proved to be the game-winner.
“It’s just a little sweet revenge, knowing that a couple of [Vermont] guys made some hits they shouldn’t have. He’s been hurting lately. This is good for him.”
The victory ended a nine-game winless streak in ECAC play for the Dutchmen (8-12-3, 4-8-1 ECAC) and also moved them two points ahead of Colgate for the final playoff spot.
It also prevented Vermont coach Mike Gilligan from winning his 400th career game.
With Vermont goalie Shawn Conschafter lifted for an extra attacker as the Catamounts (10-11-1, 6-7-1) attempted to get the tying goal, Dutchmen defenseman Randy Dagenais pushed the puck out of the Union zone. Kean, determined to get to the puck that was slowing down at center ice, vigorously shook off a Vermont defender. He skated over the red line and fired the puck into the net.
“It could have been anybody,” Kean said. “I was so tired, I almost fell. I knew I had one guy to beat, but I was so tired that I wanted to get it deep. Then the guy fell, and I had an open shot.”
Even though there were 15 penalties for 30 minutes, there wasn’t any of the chippy play that was on display in last Saturday’s game, a 6-3 Vermont win. That game featured 29 penalties for 102 minutes, including Bryant Westerman’s ECAC-record 34 penalty minutes that earned the Union forward a three-game suspension.
“What happened, happened. Now, we’ve moved on,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I think our guys are committed to playing a much more disciplined brand of hockey, and it’s going to pay off.”
Doug Christiansen gave the Dutchmen a 1-0 lead at 6:06 of the first period. He was trailing the play when he put in the rebound of a Paul Kilfoy shot past Conschafter.
The Dutchmen could have been up by at least 4-0 after the first. They had three breakaways during the period, including two shorthanded. Conschafter stopped Hutchins and Jason Ralph, and got a break when the puck bounced on Jeff Wilson as he was ready to shoot.
“They could have three or four [goals] in the first,” Gilligan said. “I thought Shawn was fabulous, especially on the breakaways.”
Hutchins made it 2-0 late in the second when he one-timed a Wilson feed past Conschafter. J.F. Gamelin scored Vermont’s only goal, a power-play tally, midway through the third period.
“It was amazing that we stayed out of the box,” Union co-captain Clark Jones said. “We played a skilled game, and we got the better of them.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.