SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — After Friday’s loss to Clarkson, Union coach Nate Leaman said his team was good at coming back from adversity.
Unfortunately for Union, the Dutchmen proved Leaman wrong.
The Golden Knights came out flying in the first period Saturday, scoring three times en route to a 5-2 victory over the Dutchmen and a sweep of their ECAC tournament first-round series at Messa Rink at Achilles Center.
The Knights (15-16-5), playing in their first road playoff series since 1988, advance to the quarterfinals against second-seeded Cornell next weekend in Ithaca. The Dutchmen, who have lost 13 straight playoff games since winning Game 1 of the 1994 quarterfinals against Rensselaer, end their season with a 14-17-5 record.
Union will have plenty of time to contemplate a home-ice playoff failure for the second straight year. The Dutchmen lost to RPI last year.
“It’s tough to go out in the first round, no matter how we played,” Dutchmen captain Glenn Sanders said.
Instead of coming out with fire, the Dutchmen were tight. The majority of the first 10 minutes was spent in the Union zone. Clarkson had the first 10 shots on goal of the game. Union didn’t get its first one until 9:03 was left in the period.
By then, the Knights had a 2-0 lead. Mac Faulkner scored 3:33 into the game on a shot from the bottom of the right circle. Chris Blight scored a power-play goal at 7:20. Tristan Lush made it a three-goal margin with 4:45 left, converting a Jean Desrochers pass on a two-on-one.
“I don’t think we were scared,” Leaman said. “I think we came out flat the first 20 minutes. They got a couple of soft goals. The third goal was a good goal, but the first two were kind of soft. It dug us in a hole.”
But it was a beautiful sight for Clarkson coach George Roll.
“I thought it was our best period of the weekend,” Roll said. “I thought in the first period, we were on top of things. We executed on the specialty teams. Our power play was moving. Our penalty killing did an awesome job.”
Blight credited the Knights’ defense with making life miserable for the Dutchmen.
“They did a good job stepping up not giving them time to get their feet moving,” Blight said. “They stepped up in the neutral zone and broke up a lot of passes. They took away their transition game.”
Jordan Webb had two shots hit the crossbar in each of the first two periods. The first one came with 7:48 in the first, and it could have pulled the Dutchmen to within one. The second one came 55 seconds into the second.
Webb finally found the back of the net 44 seconds into the third period when he fired a wrist shot from the slot over goalie Dustin Traylen’s glove.
“Obviously, it was frustrating [hitting the crossbar],” said Webb, who led the Dutchmen with 30 points. “If [the first one] goes in, it could change the game. I think it’s going to be in the back of my mind for the rest of the summer and until next season.”
Chris Brekelmans’ power-play goal at 8:30 of the third made it 4-1. After the goal, goalie Kris Mayotte was given a 10-minute misconduct for arguing with referee Tim Kotyra. Jason Visser cut it two with 6:06 left, but Jay Latulippe beat Tim Roth on a two-on-one break 1:02 later.
“Clarkson brought a very high intensity into the playoffs,” Leaman said. “We weren’t able to match their intensity.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.