CANTON, N.Y. — The Union and St. Lawrence hockey teams will be hearing referee Frank Murphy’s whistle in their sleep for days to come.
In a game where five-on-five play was a rarity, Murphy called 27 of the game’s 29 penalties — two were called by the assistant referees — resulting in 28 power plays.And the Saints proved to have the better power play Friday, going 4-for-14 in a 6-2 ECACHL victory over the Dutchmen at Appleton Arena.
Union (0-1 ECACHL, 3-3-1 overall), which saw its four-game unbeaten streak snapped, also had 14 power-play attempts. They had five two-man advantages. But the Dutchmen managed just one power-play goal, scored by freshman forward T.J. Fox, during a two-man advantage midway through the second period.
“That’s a tough break to take,” said Fox, who scored Union’s other goal at even strength late in the second. “If you get a five-on-three, you’re hoping to create a goal out of that and give a confidence boost for your team.”
The Dutchmen were called for 15 penalties. But Union coach Nate Leaman didn’t blame Murphy for his team’s failings.
“I don’t think our team showed up mentally,” Leaman said. “Some of the penalties were well deserved because we weren’t moving our feet, and we were using our sticks. We’re a pretty good hockey team, but we didn’t show up mentally tonight.”
But one of Murphy’s calls didn’t sit well with Leaman. With Union trailing, 1-0, late in the first period, Dutchmen forward Olivier Bouchard appeared to shove Saints defenseman Zach Miskovic off the puck in the St. Lawrence slot. Bouchard got the puck and rifled a shot past goalie Justin Pesony. But Murphy waved off the goal, and called Bouchard for holding. That proved to be a critical call, because the Saints’ Mike Zbriger scored on the ensuing power play.
“If I comment, I’d get suspended by the league,” Leaman said. “That’s all I’m going to say. And I’ll let you write what you think.”
Even Leaman and Saints coach Joe Marsh were called for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Marsh said it was just the second time in 21 seasons as the Saints’ coach that he has been penalized.
“I understand the nature of the calls, and how they want to make the calls they have to make,” Marsh said. “It’s incumbent upon players and coaches all to buy into it. But I’ve got to be honest, there were certain [questionable] calls. I don’t think it was as chippy of a game as it seemed to be.”
The longest stretch between penalty calls was 6:39, which took place in the third period.
“It wasn’t a fun game to coach,” Marsh said.
It certainly wasn’t a joy for Leaman, either. The Saints’ top line of Zbriger, T.J. Trevelyan and John Zeiler combined for five goals — four on the power play — and 10 assists. Trevelyan scored the game’s first goal at even strength 32 seconds into the first period and also had five assists.
“We didn’t execute,” Leaman said. “We didn’t execute because we weren’t there mentally. Our passing was off. I thought they won a lot of one-on-one battles. It’s very frustrating as a coach.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.