SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union had a couple of surprises up its sleeve for Clarkson Friday at Messa Rink at Achilles Center. Dutchmen senior captain Glenn Sanders, who has his spleen removed in mid-November and was expected miss the rest of the season, returned to the lineup.
Meanwhile, Union’s leading scorer, Joel Beal, was not in uniform and he wasn’t injured. But to the surprise of no one, goalie Kris Mayotte was superb again. Mayotte stopped 29 shots, including an incredible one in the final minute that even fooled the goal judge, helping the Dutchmen to a 3-1 ECAC victory.
But the talk after the game was of Sanders’ return and Beal’s benching. Sanders suffered a lacerated spleen on the first shift of the Nov. 14 game against Dartmouth. After the spleen was removed, Sanders had a blood clot in his liver. He was placed on blood thinners. This week, Sanders had been approved by the NCAA for a medical redshirt, which would have given him a fifth year of eligibility.
“I didn’t have any plans to come back,” Sanders said. “I was looking into redshirting. But I went to the doctors two weeks ago, and got the OK [to play]. The blood clot’s gone.”
Sanders looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. He started the game, and took regular shifts. His only weakness was on faceoffs, losing 16 of 21 draws.
“You can’t say enough about Glenn and how much we missed him in our lineup,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “It speaks mountains of the kid because he decided to come back and help the team for eight games instead of having 34 for next year. That’s the type of person Glenn is, he’s selfless, and he’s a hard worker.”
Leaman wasn’t saying much about Beal. The junior forward, who has six goals and 13 assists, was suspended for two games for what Leaman said was a violation of team rules. Leaman wouldn’t comment further, and Beal was unavailable to the media.
As for Mayotte, he wasn’t busy through the first two periods, facing seven shots. Union (4-9-2 ECAC, 10-13-4 overall) had a 2-0 lead, thanks to a Olivier Bouchard’s first-period goal and a Scott Seney’s second-period power-play tally.
Clarkson (6-7-2, 11-11-5) got rolling in the third, firing 20 shots on Mayotte. John Sullivan’s power-play goal with 4:08 left cut Union’s lead to one.
With goalie Dustin Traylen out for an extra attacker, Jay Latulippe thought he had scored the tying goal on a one-timer from the right circle with 51.5 seconds left. The goal judge turned on the red light, but referee Scott Hansen waived it off, saying Mayotte’s glove wasn’t over the goal line when he caught the puck.
“If I can put doubt into the ref’s mind if it’s a goal or not, I’ll take it,” Mayotte said. “It was close. I don’t know it if was over or not. The whole puck has to go over the line.”
Latulippe thought it went in. “His glove was in the net,” Latulippe said.
Bouchard sealed Union’s second straight win with an empty-net goal with nine seconds left.
“I’m certainly disappointed in our effort for the 40 minutes,” Clarkson coach George Roll said. “We were completely outclassed and outworked by Union. I don’t care if that we only played 20 minutes, they deserved to win tonight.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.