SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Just when you think it can’t get any worse for the slumping Union hockey team, it does.
Tenth-ranked Harvard ended Tuesday’s ECACHL game early, scoring three goals in the first 5:04 and cruising to an easy 8-1 victory at Messa Rink and sending the Dutchmen to their seventh straight loss.
After the game, Union (7-10 ECACHL, 10-17-1 overall) held a closed-door meeting that lasted 64 minutes. Dutchmen coach Nate Leaman conceded that the team has hit rock bottom.
“If we were a fish, we would be a carp, or catfish,” Leaman said. “There’s only one way to, and that is up.”
The Dutchmen, who avoided getting shut out when Scott Brady scored at 7:25 of the third period, have scored just nine goals in their last 11 league games. Their power play went 0 for 7, and now have gone 2-for-69 since starting 6-0 in ECACHL play.
“You can’t come out and lay a bigger egg than we laid tonight, Leaman said. “It could be next to impossible to come out and lay a bigger egg. Hopefully, we take the [attitude] that there’s nothing else more to lose. It can only go up.”
Their frustration boiled over late in the second period. During a fracas that resulted in 33 penalty minutes being called, Union center Brian Kerr received a five-minute major and a game disqualification for excessive roughness. He is suspended for Friday’s game against Holy Cross.
The Crimson (10-4-1, 13-5-2) scored three times in a 1:42 span to chase Dutchmen starting goalie Justin Mrazek. Rob Flynn scored his first of two goals at 3:22, beating Mrazek with a shot from the right circle. Tom Walsh scored a power-play goal at 4:43 from the same area. Flynn scored from about five feet out 19 seconds later.
“We know Union has had a tough couple games the last few games,” Flynn said. “To get on them quick would be a big advantage for us, and it turned out to be so.”
Those three goals made the final 54:56 excruciating for the Dutchmen (7-10 ECACHL, 10-17-1 overall), the fans that stayed for the entire game and the television viewers watching on Time Warner Cable, if they hadn’t turned the channel after Flynn’s second goal.
“Any time you see a team that comes in struggling a little bit, you want to jump out and try to keep that negative feeling,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said after his team’s fourth straight win. “We really tried to concentrate on our starts coming out of the gate after exams these [last] three games. It’s easier said than done, but our guys did a good job of keeping it simple early. We made a couple of real nice plays.”
Mrazek was replaced by Kris Mayotte after Flynn’s second goal. He blanked the Crimson for the rest of the first period, but didn’t fare much better in the final two periods. Harvard scored three times in the second on a short-handed goal by Steve Mandes, and even-strength tallies by Andrew Lederman and Ryan Maki. Maki scored another goal in the third.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady.