SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Shoot the puck and something good might happen. Hockey coaches always preach that to their players, but sometimes, they’d rather make the pretty pass.
Union defenseman Matt Vagvolgyi listened to his coach Nate Leaman’s advice. It paid off in the third period.
Vagvolgyi’s right-point shot deflected off a Dartmouth defender and into the net for a power-play goal midway through the third on Friday, helping the Dutchmen to a 1-1 ECAC tie with the Big Green at Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center.
The Dutchmen (1-1-1 ECAC, 6-2-2 overall) weren’t generating many shots in the first two periods. They managed just 12, including three in the first period.
Meanwhile, Dartmouth (1-0-2, 2-0-2) had 21 shots after two periods.
“I thought the difference in the game is that they were shooting on their opportunities, and we weren’t,” Leaman said. “For the most part, I didn’t think we took the shots when we had them. That’s something we obviously spoke about between periods.”
But neither team scored until Mike Wheelihan fired his second goal of the season past Union goalie Kris Mayotte 5:56 into the third.
“We weren’t getting a lot of shots,” Vagvolgyi said. “Coach came in during the break before the third and said, `You’ve got to get shots.’ That’s exactly what we did.”
Vagvolgyi never saw the puck after he shot it. It sailed in the air, started descending as it reached goalie Dan Yacey, who also never saw the shot, and landed behind his back in the net at 9:50.
“When I took the shot, the guy coming at me finished me,” Vagvolgyi said. “I had to turn around. When I turned back, I saw that the puck went in.”
Union almost won it with 1:51 left in overtime. Brent Booth’s right-point shot beat Yacey, but it hit the inside of the right post.
“It was a good, intense game,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “It was up and down. I thought both teams played well.”
The Dutchmen did a good job of shutting down the Big Green’s top scoring line of Hugh Jessiman, Mike Ouellette and Lee Stempniak. Ouellette had three shots on goal, Jessiman two and Stempniak none.
“That’s what we were hoping for going in,” said Mayotte, who made 31 saves. “Coach was telling us how they’re just going to be out there non-stop. That’s all you’re going to see. They were our main focus, and our team handled them very well tonight.”
Notes: Union hosts Vermont and former Dutchmen coach Kevin Sneddon Saturday at 7. The Dutchmen have won five straight over the Catamounts. … Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute may have had Black Friday, but Union had the blackout. The start of the second period was delayed 16 minutes when the lights went out just as the puck was being dropped. … The Dutchmen have scored at least one power-play goal in eight of their 10 games. … Yacey made 21 saves.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.