SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — The Union Dutchmen were 15.8 seconds away from not only having their winless streak extended to 13 games by Sacred Heart — they were about to become the first ECAC team to lose three times to an Atlantic Hockey team.
But the Dutchmen found a way to prevent those things from happening Friday at Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center.
Matt Vagvolgyi scored in the dying seconds of regulation, and Jordan Webb scored his third goal of the game at 2:58 of overtime, giving the Dutchmen a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Pioneers.
Webb’s hat trick, the first by a Union player since Kris Goodjohn did it against Colgate March 1, 2002, ended the Dutchmen’s 12-game winless skid (0-10-2), which was the longest in the nation. The Pioneers (4-13-3) now have the nation’s longest winless streak at nine games.
“It was a weird one, but we’ll take it,” said Webb, who had scored just three goals in his first 23 games this season. “We’ve had a couple of tough losses were the game should have gone our way, but didn’t. Maybe it should have went their way at the end. But we battled hard, and maybe got a couple of lucky bounces. We deserved it in the end.”
Despite the win, Union coach Nate Leaman wasn’t happy with his team’s effort. The Dutchmen (8-12-4) blew a 2-0 lead, and were down, 3-2, after Rocco Molinaro scored with 1:56 left in the third period.
“[Sacred Heart] came to battle tonight, and we were losing a lot of the one-on-one battles,” Leaman said. “We came to the rink thinking the game was going to be easier than it was. We saw them on tape, and we knew how hard they worked. Come that third period, they were winning a lot of the one-on-one battles.”
Webb scored the game’s first two goals, one late in the first period and the other midway through the second. Marc-Andre Fournier made it 2-1 at 10:09 of the second, and Noel Henck tied it early in the third.
Shortly after Molinaro’s goal, goalie Tim Roth, who started in place of the flu-ridden Kris Mayotte, was pulled for an extra attacker. It paid off when Vagvolgyi, who was at the left of the net, fired a pass from Joel Beal past goalie Kevin LaPointe.
“I was looking at ‘Webber,’” Beal said. “Jordan was coming down the slot. I tried to fire it out to him, and it just bounced over his stick. I guess the hockey gods were smiling on us.”
Beal set up Webb’s game-winner by knocking down a Sacred Heart clearing attempt in the slot. He sent the puck to Ben McManama, who then gave it to Webb at the bottom of the right circle. Webb fired it home.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.