SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Just when it appeared that Union wasn’t going to score a goal in its ECACHL first-round playoff series with Clarkson, something amazing happened.
The Dutchmen not only scored one goal, they got two. And, thanks to that, they will be playing at least one more playoff game.
First-year players Torren Delforte and Scott Brady, teammates last year with the Boston Junior Bruins, came through for the Dutchmen in a big way Saturday. Delforte’s late third-period goal sent the game into overtime, where Brady won it at 9:21 to give the Dutchmen a 2-1 victory over the Golden Knights at Messa Rink.
In evening the best-of-three series at a game apiece, Union (12-21-2) ended a 14-game playoff losing streak. It’s the Dutchmen’s first playoff win since March 11, 1994, against Rensselaer, in its first-ever Division I postseason game.
The deciding contest is Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Brady, a sophomore forward who played briefly at Elmira College two years ago. “We’ve been working hard all weekend. It’s finally nice to get a good bounce.”
After losing, 1-0, in overtime Friday, the Dutchmen were down by that same score on a Michael Grenzy second-period goal. They went into the third period with a scoreless streak of 182 minutes, 53 seconds.
“We talked about, between the second and third period, [that] we have to make our memories,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “The guys believed.”
With 7:54 left, the freshman Delforte knocked down a Clarkson clearing attempt along the right-wing boards. He corralled the puck, went to the net and backhanded a shot over goalie Dustin Traylen for his first college goal. That ended Union’s team-record scoreless streak at 194:59.
“As soon as I caught it, I threw it down and I looked to the net,” Delforte said. “I saw the defenseman following Vags [Matt Vagvolgyi] to the net. I just walked it to the net, ripped it high and it went in.”
Midway through the overtime, Brady picked up the puck from Jake Schwan in the neutral zone. He took on Clarkson defensemen Chris Brekelmans and Matt Curley.
Suddenly, Brady had an open lane, because neither defensemen picked him up. Brady skated to the left circle, where he wristed a shot over Traylen’s glove side.
“They had a miscommunication,” Brady said. “I had a nice alley to the net, and put it in.”
And it brought a sense of relief to the team.
“I can tell you when the shot went in, I felt like I breathed a different type of air,” Leaman said. “It was about time, that’s what it felt like.”
Union freshman goalie Justin Mrazek had another outstanding game. He made 27 saves, including the first six shots of the game when Clarkson (12-21-3) was buzzing the Union net in the opening minutes.
“It was definitely a bit of a scramble,” Mrazek said. “There were a couple of [wild] plays. I was fortunate enough to keep the puck out of the net.”
It was disappointing end for the Knights, who appeared headed for the quarterfinals. Clarkson coach George Roll believes that Union will be inspired heading into Sunday’s showdown.
“Any time you come back and win on the second night, it gives them the momentum,” Roll said. “But our guys are focused in there. They didn’t seem down. Obviously, they’re disappointed.
“But there’s still another game to play.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.