SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Niagara came at Union in a purple rage during the first few minutes of Friday’s non-league game. But the Dutchmen nicely weathered the Purple Eagles’ storm in their Achilles Rink opener.
Flexing their offensive muscle, the Dutchmen scored three first-period goals, and received a good performance from freshman goalie Kris Mayotte in a 5-2 win.
Even though the Dutchmen (1-1-1) took a 1-0 lead on Marc Neron’s goal 2:04 into the game, they were running around at times in their own zone, trying to stop the Purple Eagles’ pressure.
“We had a lot of emotion going into this game,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It was the first home game for a lot of the younger players. Even our veteran players were a little bit antsy at the beginning. Niagara came at us with a lot of firepower in terms of their forecheck. Our defensemen had a tough time all night because they had a purple jersey in their face.”
Mayotte, who made 30 saves, gave up a bad goal to Chris Sebastian at 5:09 of the first that tied the score, 1-1. Mayotte stopped Matt Ryan’s shot, but couldn’t control the rebound. Sebastian put it home.
“It was a weak shot from the point,” Mayotte said. “I had it. I tracked it in my glove, and it just hit the solid part of my glove and hopped out.”
Shortly after that goal, the Dutchmen took control of the game. Scott Seney broke the tie with a power-play goal at 9:33. Kris Goodjohn, who had three assists, sent the puck to Chris DiStefano at the right point. DiStefano made a diagonal pass to Seney, who got behind the Niagara defense at the left of the net. Seney redirected the puck past goalie Rob Bonk.
“It gave us the lead and let us relax a little bit,” Goodjohn said.
Chris Konnick gave Union a two-goal lead just over four minutes later when he put the rebound of his own shot past Bonk. Brian Kerr made it 4-1, 3:50 into the second period when he fired home a wrist shot from the left circle.
Niagara (2-3) cut Union’s lead to 4-2 when Ryan scored with 7:02 left in the third period.
In the past, the Dutchmen might have panicked and start to do too much. But they maintained their composure and regained their three-goal lead 1:20 later when Joel Beal forced Bonk to turn the puck over. Bonk was out of position when Nathan Gillies fired home his second goal of the season.
“Our team is calm and relaxed,” Gillies said. “It all comes down to having fun.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.