SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Earlier this week, Union coach Nate Leaman said he wanted to treat this weekend’s two-game series like an ECACHL playoff series.
If this were the playoffs, Friday’s game would still be going on.
But since they only play a five-minute overtime during the regular season, the Dutchmen had to settle for a 2-2 tie against the winless Warriors at Messa Rink.
Union (6-5-2) took a 2-1 lead into the third period. But Wayne State (0-7-2) tied it on Mike Forgie’s power-play goal with 8:43 left in the third.
“We’re very disappointed,” said Union forward Jason Visser, who had a goal and an assist. “It felt more like a loss. We looked at both of these games as a must-win. To not get this `W,’ especially when we had a lead, it’s just a loss. We needed this win.”
If the tie wasn’t bad enough, the Dutchmen lost two players in the first period to injury. Defenseman Michael Beynon was slashed across the wrist and was taken to the hospital for X-rays. Forward Scott Brady injured his knee when he blocked a shot. Beynon’s status for tonight’s rematch at 7 p.m. is unknown, while Brady is out.
“We turned the puck over a lot in our zone,” Leaman said. “Four of the five D were freshmen.”
The Dutchmen, coming off last Saturday’s lackluster effort against Colgate, outshot the Warriors 30-23. Union had plenty of excellent scoring chances, especially in the final seconds of OT. But Warriors goalie Matt Kelly stopped a Josh Coyle right-wing drive and followed that up by stopping Olivier Bouchard on the rebound.
“I thought we weren’t able to put them away,” Leaman said. “I thought their goaltender made some great saves. We didn’t bear down on our chances. We had a lot of chances in the first, second and third periods, and we didn’t bear down and bury them.”
Bouchard snapped a scoreless tie with a power-play goal early in the second period. His initial shot from the right circle was blocked by Warrior defenseman Greg Poupard. But the puck came right back to Bouchard, who fired it over Kelly’s glove. It ended a six-game goal-scoring drought for Bouchard, who had scored six goals in a four-game stretch prior to that.
“I don’t really think about that,” Bouchard said. “If it goes in, it goes in.”
Wayne State got that goal back just over four minutes later on a nice individual effort by Jon Grabarek. He shook off the checking of two Union players behind the Dutchmen net, skated out from the left side and backhanded the puck over goalie Kris Mayotte’s glove.
Visser broke the tie with 46.8 seconds left in the second when he batted in a bouncing puck past Kelly on the power play.
“Everyone came crashing in,” Visser said. “The puck happened to squeak loose to the side of the net where I was planted. I was kind of lucky.”
Forgie redirected a Stavros Paskaris pass from the left-wing corner past Mayotte to tie the score.
“A tie is better than a loss,” Wayne State coach Bill Wilkinson said. “But we’re certainly trying to win one down the line.”