BURLINGTON, Vt. — A decade’s worth of frustrating losses at Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse ended in a special way for Union Friday.
The Dutchmen scored all of their goals on special teams — three power-play tallies and one shorthanded — and killed off all eight Catamount man advantages to record their first-ever ECAC Division I win in 11 tries at Gutterson, a 4-0 triumph.
“I’m just happy for the seniors,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “Obviously, they’ve had three tough years in this building.”
Jordan Webb, Randy Dagenais and Jeff Hutchins scored the power-play goals, and Nathan Gillies had the shorthanded one as the Dutchmen (6-5-2 ECAC, 11-7-5 overall) extended their unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2). They also took over sole possession of fifth place, which is the final home-ice playoff slot, when Yale lost to Clarkson, 7-5.
Goalie Brandon Snee made 28 saves against Vermont (3-9-1, 3-17-2) to record his third career shutout.
Gutterson was the last building that Union had not recorded a win in since becoming a Division I program in 1991.
“It’s big,” the senior Snee said. “A lot of people said that we couldn’t do it. We’re just playing well right now. That’s all we’re concentrating on instead of milestones like this.”
Past Union teams have struggled on Gutterson’s ice surface, partly because it is 200 feet long by 90 feet wide, five feet wider than Achilles Rink.
But this year’s Dutchmen have more skilled players. That was evident on all their goals.
Union received a power play 14 seconds into the game. Six seconds later, Dagenais fired a wrist shot from the top of the slot. Webb, named ECAC rookie of the week on Monday, tipped it past goalie Shawn Conschafter to give the Dutchmen a 1-0 lead.
“It was important,” Sneddon said. “We wanted to establish ourselves right away. These guys didn’t believe in the hype that we couldn’t win in this building. All week, they were very confident, and it showed tonight.”
The Dutchmen used the power play to break the game open in the second period.
Dagenais’ wrist shot from the top of the right circle deflected off a Vermont player and past Conschafter at 13:46. Jeff Hutchins made it 3-0 when he redirected a Charles Simard shot into the net.
“When the ice is this big, you get so much room to move the puck,” Dagenais said. “But the big thing is we outworked them in the corners. We got the puck out. If you come out with it, most of the time you’ve got a good chance on the power play like this.”
With Hutchins in the penalty box for hooking, Gillies knocked the puck away Patrick Sharp at the left point. He headed up the ice and blasted a slapshot through Conschafter’s pads at 9:04 of the third period.
“This is a very, very good Union team, as good as I’ve seen in the years since they’ve been in the league,” Vermont coach Mike Gilligan said.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.