SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — After scoring 29 goals in its first six ECACHL games, all victories, Union is struggling to get pucks past opposition goaltenders. The Dutchmen suffered their second shutout in the last two weeks, and third in the last month. Colgate became the latest team to blank Union as Raiders goalie Steve Silverthorn stopped 21 shots in a 1-0 victory Saturday at Messa Rink. It is the second straight 1-0 victory for the Raiders (9-1 ECACHL, 17-5 overall) at Messa Rink. They won by the same score Feb. 20 of last year.
“We knew coming that it would be [a tight game],” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “We prepared our guys for it all day long. We had a very similar game in here last year. We know we’re going to get a huge effort from this Union hockey team every time we come in here.”
Union (7-5, 10-12-1) played the game without senior captain Jordan Webb. The Dutchmen’s second-leading scorer suffered a charley horse in the third period Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Cornell.
Since its 6-0 league start, Union has gone 1-5 in its last six ECACHL games. During that span, the Dutchmen have scored three goals. Besides Colgate, Brown and Vermont have kept the Dutchmen off the scoreboard. The Dutchmen went a team-record stretch of 190 minutes, four seconds of scoreless hockey in ECACHL play, from the final 17:03 against Harvard Dec. 3 to Jake Schwan’s goal at 13:01 of third period against Dartmouth last Saturday. In between, Union was blanked by Brown and Vermont.
“We have to get to the net,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “To score goals, you have to pay a price. Right now, in my estimation, our second effort around the net isn’t good enough to score goals. It’s something we’ve talked about all year. Until we learn it, we’re going to struggle.”
When Union did get a chance to score, it ran into some bad luck. Joel Beal almost tied it for the Dutchmen with 12 minutes left in the third period when his shot from the left side got through Silverthorn. However, the puck rolled across the crease and out instead of going in the net.
“It might have caromed off his glove and just by the post,” Beal said.
Silverthorn believed he was fortunate.
“I actually thought I squeezed it,” Silverthorn said. “I thought I had it. It was a nice shot by Beal.”
Leaman pulled goalie Justin Mrazek for an extra attacker with 1:59 left. The Dutchmen had several chances to score, but came up empty.
“I’ve always thought that you’ve got to pull [the goalie] early because one chance isn’t going to be enough,” Leaman said. “You need to try to get three or four. I thought we had our chances at the end.”
The Dutchmen also have to improve a slumping power play. The Dutchmen were not only 0-for-3 against the Raiders, they didn’t even get a shot on goal on their opportunities. That would hurt.
The Raiders, ranked 10th in the USCHO.com/CSTV NCAA poll, scored the game’s only goal on a power play midway through the first period. Jon Smyth took a Tyler Burton pass and beat Mrazek from the left side with 8:34 left in the first. In its last six ECACHL games, Union has one power-play goal in 34 chances.
“When our power play goes out there right now, we don’t have too much confidence,”
Union leading scorer Scott Seney said. “We’re not working hard to earn those goals. It all stems from the special teams. Once we start realizing that’s where the offense comes from, our team will build off momentum from the power play when we start scoring.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.