SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union wanted to generate momentum heading into its first two ECAC games next weekend.
Instead, the Dutchmen will be spending the week leading up to the contests against St. Lawrence and Clarkson trying to get over the embarrassment of their 4-1 nonleague loss to the MAAC’s Holy Cross on Saturday at Achilles Rink.
Union (2-3-2) not only became the second ECAC team to lose to a Metro Atlantic Athletic conference school for the second time — Colgate is the other — but it is the first team to lose two home games against MAAC opponents. The Dutchmen’s other loss to a MAAC team at Achilles came Dec. 3, 2000, a 3-2 decision against Quinnipiac.
The Dutchmen, who are 0-2-1 in their last three games, avoided another first — being shut out by a MAAC team. Jason Kean’s power-play goal with 5:56 left in the game prevented Union from getting blanked.
“I don’t think we came ready to go from the beginning,” said Union center Kris Goodjohn, who assisted on the goal. “I think it opened a lot of guys’ eyes that we can’t just come out and play with anyone and come out with two points. We’ve got to have all 26 guys ready to play every night.
“We’ve got a long week of practice, that’s for sure.”
For the Crusaders (5-2), who are in their fifth year of NCAA Division I play, the victory is an important step in the program’s progress.
“This is obviously a big win. We don’t want to overstate it,” Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl said. “But at the same time, when you’re trying to build up a Division I program similar to what Union was doing, you take certain benchmarks. Coming into tonight, we wanted to play well. We thought if we played well, we’d have a chance.”
The ECAC, considered to be one of the “Big Four” hockey conferences along with the CCHA, Hockey East and WCHA, shouldn’t have problems with upstart leagues like the MAAC and the CHA.
But the Crusaders, who are in second place in the MAAC, were the better team. Three of their four goals came on the power play, and they didn’t give the Dutchmen too many scoring opportunities.
“Anytime we lose in our building is embarrassing,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We have pride in this building. When a team comes in and takes it to us, we should be embarrassed.”
Jeff Dams opened the scoring for the Crusaders with a power-play goal at 5:39 of the first period. They held on to the 1-0 lead heading into the third, and then took a two-goal lead on Pierre Napert-Frenette’s power-play tally at 2:32.
Forty-four seconds after Kean’s goal, Goodjohn was called for obstruction-tripping. Brandon Doria made him pay at 15:02, blasting a slapshot from outside the blue line along the right wing, past goalie Marc Wise.
“Two years ago, we would have folded up the tent when they scored to make it 2-1,” said Dams, who added two assists. “We would have shut it down. This year, and even last year, it’s a different team, it’s a different mindset in the room. We’re confident in ourselves.”
Dams put the game away with 3:03 left, tapping in Doria’s pass on a two-on-one break for Holy Cross’ only even-strength goal.
“I certainly don’t want to take anything away from Holy Cross,” Sneddon said. “They buried the chances that they needed to bury. Unfortunately, the puck wasn’t going in for us tonight. They played an overall great game.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.