SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union did its part Friday at Achilles Rink. But it couldn’t clinch an ECAC playoff berth because St. Lawrence and Yale didn’t cooperate.
Sparked by Kris Goodjohn’s hat trick, the Dutchmen cruised to a 5-2 victory over Colgate to keep control of their own destiny in the ECAC playoff race.
In snapping a three-game losing streak, the ninth-place Dutchmen (8-10-3 ECAC, 13-12-6 overall) have a one-point lead over St. Lawrence and Yale, who are tied for 10th. The Saints beat Dartmouth, 3-2, while the Bulldogs scored two late goals to beat Harvard, 4-3.
It all comes down to the final night of the regular season. All three playoff contenders are home. Union hosts regular-season champion Cornell, St. Lawrence has Vermont and Yale takes on Brown. Colgate, meanwhile, saw its home-ice chances damaged. The Raiders now stand in a fifth-place tie with Brown, as Rensselaer stands just one point back.
“We can’t do anything about it,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “That’s the tough thing about this league right now. We have to go into the [Cornell] game knowing that anybody can beat anybody on any given night. Our guys are excited about the challenge.”
If the Dutchmen get another performance like they did from Goodjohn, they will be playing next weekend. Goodjohn, who added an assist, became the first Union player to record a hat trick since Ryan Campbell did it against St. Lawrence on March 10, 2000.
All three goals Goodjohn scored were a result of going to the net. He took advantage of Colgate goalie David Cann’s failure to cover the puck and pushed it into the net for his first goal 4:22 into the game.
Goodjohn got his second goal during a delayed penalty at 6:56 of the second period. Joel Beal came on to the ice as the extra attacker, skated down the left side and took a cross-ice feed from Jeff Hutchins. Beal fired the puck to Goodjohn at the right of the net, and he put it home.
The third goal came 1:33 later from the same spot, and Cann was replaced by Jason Lefevre.
“If you don’t finish those chances, there’s something wrong with you,” Goodjohn said.
The critical goal came with 10.9 seconds left in the first period. With the score tied, 1-1, Union was on a power play. The Dutchmen were in the middle of a line change when Nathan Gillies carried the puck from the left-wing boards to the blue line. He cut to his right and fired a wrist shot from just inside the blue line at the top of the slot.
The puck hit Cann’s stick, rolled behind him and into the net, giving Union a 2-1 lead.
“It was a weak goal for the goalie,” Gillies said. “He kind of put his head down between his legs and couldn’t stop much after that.”
Down, 4-2, Colgate had two goals waved off. One was kicked in late in the second period. The other, in the first minute of the third period, was ruled to have gone in the side of the net when the net was lifted up during a scrum to the right of goalie Brandon Snee.
“They came out, and had a couple of good shifts,” Hutchins said. “Had that goal stood, we would have had to work hard to get the momentum back.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.