SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — It was a historical night Saturday in many ways for the Union hockey team. Start with the Dutchmen’s first-ever season sweep of Capital Region rival RPI. Then there’s the Dutchmen’s best start in ECACHL play. And senior center Jordan Webb moved up Union’s Division I all-time scoring list.
And one other thing — Union’s 3-2 victory before a standing-room only crowd of 2,317, coupled with Vermont’s 1-1 tie at Clarkson, puts the Dutchmen (4-0 ECACHL, 5-5 overall) all alone in first place. The Dutchmen, who beat the Engineers, 5-4, Friday at Houston Field House, did their best to try and keep things in perspective after winning their fourth straight.
“It’s a big win because of the rivalry,” said Webb, who scored twice to give him 97 career points, moving him into second place past Chris Albert, who had 95 points from 1991-95. “But more importantly, it gets us out of the block early in league play.”
Junior forward Scott Seney, who had two assists, agreed with Webb. “The most important thing is the 4-0 start, not who we beat and when,” said Seney, who assisted on Olivier Bouchard’s game-winning goal late in the second period. “First place is huge for us. That’ll be a good building block going into next weekend with Princeton and Yale.”
RPI coach Dan Fridgen, who broke up his top scoring line of Kirk MacDonald, Nick Economakos and Kevin Croxton during the second period, was blunt in his assessment of Union’s sweep.
“They’ve been in the league long enough. They’ve been in Division I long enough. It’s going to come around sooner or later,” Fridgen said. “I can remember when they tied us and beat us in the [2002-03] season. They had the playoff series over here [which RPI won]. We’ll see who’s there in the end.”
Webb broke a scoreless tie 1:54 into the second period when he tipped a Joel Beal shot past goalie Andrew Martin on the power play. Then at 14:02, Webb scored his 10th goal of the season, and seventh on the power play, when he beat Martin from the right of the net.
Just like it did in the second period Friday, Union burned RPI with a goal in the final minute. Seney won a faceoff from Oren Eizenman in the RPI left circle. Seney drew the puck back to Bouchard, who fired a low wrist shot past Martin’s left pad with 12.6 seconds left in the second.
“Me and ‘Bouch’ have been trying to do that for two years,” Seney said. “It finally worked. It was a relief for us, and it was a big boost for us going into the locker room.”
After that goal, Union was penalized for delay of game when oranges were thrown on the ice for the second-straight goal. RPI took advantage of that early in the third period when Kevin Broad scored a power-play goal.
Shortly after that, Andrew Lord, who replaced MacDonald on the right wing, took a pass from Croxton and beat goalie Justin Mrazek to cut Union’s lead to a goal.
RPI (1-3, 5-5-1) had the Dutchmen running around. Economakos hit the crossbar during an RPI power play with 8:39 left in the game.
“It was frustrating taking that penalty when the oranges came on the ice,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “It’s frustrating because you have 20 guys on the bench that are working their hardest for the school, and you have one fan that maybe gets a little carried away and throws an orange on the ice, and we get penalized for it.
“It changed the momentum of the game.”
But not enough for RPI to come all the way back.
“I told the guys to enjoy this tonight,” Leaman said. “Tomorrow, it’s studying [for exams], and Monday’s it’s Princeton. We start thinking about Princeton.”
– Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.