SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — After playing five straight one-goal hockey games, Union found itself in the position to win by a wide margin Friday against Findlay when it took a three-goal lead into the third period.
But the Dutchmen wilted. Despite being outshot, 44-18, the Oilers rallied for three third-period goals to earn a 4-4 nonconference tie at Achilles Rink.
Findlay (8-11-2) scored its goals on eight shots over the final two periods of regulation. Sloppy defensive play by Union was a factor in the Oilers’ final two goals.
“We had a complete meltdown of playing solid in our own zone,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “There’s no excuse for it. We were up a field goal, and all we have to do is tighten it up in our own zone and keep the game simple. I think we thought it was going to be easy.”
Second-period goals by Joel Beal, Marc Neron and Jeff Wilson gave the Dutchmen (8-7-4) a 4-1 lead. They outshot the Oilers, 17-2, in the second.
But the Dutchmen got into trouble right away in the third period. D.J. Vogt scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway 1:16 into the third.
“I thought we stunk in the second period, and our guys stopped working,” Findlay coach Craig Barnett said. “I told them that our backs are against the wall. We’ll see what they’ll do in the third — throw the white towel in and hang our heads?
“Or are we going to come out, play hard and see what happens.”
Just over four minutes later, Union goalie Kyle Loney’s clearing attempt off the left-wing glass stayed in the Dutchmen zone. Aaron Weegar sent the puck to Christian Olson, who put a backhander past Loney.
With four minutes left, Findlay got the tying goal. Again, the Dutchmen failed to get the puck out of their zone.
Mark Bastl made a diving attempt to keep the puck in at the right point. He passed to Rigel Shaw in the slot, and Loney stopped Shaw’s shot, but Brant Somerville put the rebound home.
“We were just soft in our own end,” Wilson said. “Against any team in the NCAA, when you do that, they’re going to strike against you. They just wanted it more all over the ice, and they proved it in the third.”
It was a disappointing performance by Union, which was coming off Wednesday’s 5-4 ECAC win over Capital Region-rival Rensselaer. The Dutchmen rallied from a 4-2 deficit to win that game.
The Dutchmen wasted an opportunity to build momentum off that win.
“I think we went into this game with too much confidence after the RPI win,” Neron said. “The main point is you’ve got to play 60 minutes in college hockey. We played 40 tonight.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.