SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — The crispness with which Union played during the first four months of the season has disappeared. And so has the offense.
Saturday night, Ray DiLauro scored the game’s only goal, and Kevin Ackley made 30 saves to give St. Lawrence a 1-0 ECAC victory over the struggling Dutchmen at Achilles Rink.
Everything that could go wrong for Union (6-7-3 ECAC, 11-9-6 overall) has in the last three games, in which it is 0-2-1. The Dutchmen are having problems getting the puck out of their own zone, and when they do manage to clear, they can’t create any offense. At one point in the first period, Union was outshot, 16-6, by St. Lawrence (7-9, 9-17).
“It’s a lot of the small things that we aren’t doing right, like fighting along the boards, or getting it deep or getting it out,” Union captain Jeff Wilson said. “We’re just not working hard enough in those areas. If you do enough of the small things wrong, you get a big thing against you.”
Union is now tied for sixth place with Rensselaer. Both teams trail fifth-place Colgate by three points for the final home-ice playoff spot. There are six games left in the regular season.
“We played against two very good teams,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I thought both Clarkson and St. Lawrence played with a greater sense of playoff urgency. We let them come into our building and dictate how things were going to go. That’s not the way this team is capable of playing.”
The final minute was a microcosm of how things have gone wrong for the Dutchmen of late. Goalie Brandon Snee, who had another strong performance in stopping 30 shots, was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:03 left. With the extra skater, Union had the puck in St. Lawrence’s zone for the first five seconds.
The Saints got the puck out of the zone, and the Dutchmen couldn’t get it back in again. Jim Hackewill nearly scored an empty-net goal for the Saints, but his shot hit the post.
“I take responsibility for that,” Sneddon said. “I had the wrong six guys on the ice, tonight anyway.”
The Saints scored the game’s only goal on a second-period power play. The Dutchmen penalty-killing unit of Jason Kean, Glenn Sanders, Max Seel and Charles Simard were on the ice the entire power play. They struggled to clear the puck out of their zone, and when they did get it out, it never made it past center ice. DiLauro took advantage and fired a low slap shot from the left point past Snee at 7:28.
“They were tired, and they got running around,” Sneddon said. “We needed a change there, and they were out there for too long.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.