SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union and senior forward Joel Beal have been longing to reach some goals.
For the Dutchmen, it had been six weeks since they won an ECACHL game. For Beal, getting 100 career points went from a mere formality to wondering if he was ever going to reach that mark.
Both goals were achieved Friday against Yale. Beal got his 100th point on a goal with 2:10 left in the third period, helping the Dutchmen end a 10-game league losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Bulldogs at Messa Rink.
The victory, Union’s first in the ECACHL since Jan. 8 against Dartmouth, kept alive its hopes of home ice in the first round of the ECACHL tournament. The Dutchmen (8-13 ECACHL, 12-20-1 overall) are tied for the final home-ice spot with Clarkson, which tied Colgate, 3-3. Both teams are one point in back of seventh-place St. Lawrence, which dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Cornell.
Saturday is the final night of the regular season. Union will host Princeton at 7 p.m., Cornell visits Clarkson and St. Lawrence takes on Colgate. The Dutchmen can finish between seventh and ninth.
“We’ve only played the front nine of Augusta, and we’ve got the back nine coming,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “We know the back nine’s harder.”
Beal had 98 career points coming into the game, but had recorded just a goal and two assists in his last 12 appearances. He got his 99th point by assisting on the first of two Jonathan Poirier power-play goals in the second period.
With the game tied at 2-2 and overtime looming, Scott Seney chipped the puck to Jake Schwan, creating a two-on-one. Yale goalie Paul Cohen went over to Schwan, which created an opening in the net. Schwan made a perfect to pass to Beal on the left side.
Beal didn’t miss.
“I’m definitely glad it meant something,” said Beal, who is the third Union Division I player, and 16th Dutchman overall, to reach 100 career points. “It wasn’t a second assist, or a goal that didn’t mean anything. We needed the two points tonight. We’re still battling for home ice. I think it’s important in that way, too.”
The game started inauspiciously for Union. Yale (3-17-1, 4-22-2) took a 1-0 lead 4:49 into the game when Matt Craig’s center-ice dump-in bounced past goalie Kris Mayotte. The Dutchmen sagged the rest of the period.
They recovered in the second, thanks to Poirier’s power-play goals. The first ended a streak of 42 attempts without a power-play goal in league play for Union.
“That’s definitely big for the playoffs,” Poirier said. “It gets our confidence back on the power play.”
But Union wasn’t so fortunate on a power play midway through the third period. Nick Shalek scored a shorthanded goal, the 10th Union has allowed this year, to tie it. Shalek’s first shot sailed over the net. The puck caromed off the glass, bounced in front of the net and Shalek put it in.
After Beal’s goal, Yale got a power play with 1:25 left. The Dutchmen didn’t give the Bulldogs a good opportunity, and held on for the win.
“When you’re in these slumps, you’ve really got to work and dig your way out of it,” Leaman said. “I thought we did that tonight.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.