SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Earlier this week, Union forward Olivier Bouchard talked about how frustrating it was for him not to have scored a goal in league play this season.
His misery ended in a big way Saturday against Yale.
Bouchard collected his second hat trick of the season, powering the Dutchmen to a 5-1 ECACHL victory over the Bulldogs at Messa Rink.
It was the first goals scored by Bouchard in league play since Jan. 29, 2005, against Vermont. The skid lasted 23 games.
“I’ve been working extremely hard for that,” said Bouchard, whose other hat trick came against Sacred Heart on Oct. 14. “It was a big weekend for us. We needed those four points. To help the team like this feels good.”
The Dutchmen (8-6-4 ECACHL, 15-11-6 overall), who beat Brown on Friday, are 4-0-1 in their last five games and solidified their hold on sixth place. They could clinch at least home ice in the first round of the playoffs next weekend. Union also improved their Messa record to 10-1-4.
Bouchard got things going for the Dutchmen on the power play with 1:37 left in the first period, and he didn’t even use his stick. He was stationed in front of the Yale net when Sean Streich’s knuckleball shot from the right point hit him and went past goalie Alec Richards.
“It touched my knee pad,” Bouchard sheepishly said.
That tally triggered a three-goal outburst in 1:34. Brendan Milnamow made it 2-0 55 seconds later when he fired a wrist shot from the left point into the top right corner of the net.
Scott Brady made it a three-goal lead with 2.7 seconds left. Brady stripped Yale defenseman Robert Page of the puck in the Bulldogs’ slot, then broke in alone and beat Richards to the left side.
“I thought it was a very even game at that time,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “They had some good chances. I thought we had some good chances. It just kind of gave us the momentum, especially the last one. It’s hard for (Yale) to recover.”
Bouchard caught a second break on his second goal. Richards lost the puck to Jonathan Poirier behind the net. Poirier sent in front to Bouchard, who slammed it into the open net at 12:03 of the third.
“The second one was luck,” Bouchard said. “I needed to get a real one.”
He did just that with 2:08 left. Bouchard fired a wicked wrister from the left circle over Richards’ right shoulder for his team-leading 13th goal of the year.
“He just had to shoot the puck,” Leaman said. “Tonight, he shot the puck. The third goal, you see his release. He has an excellent release. The good thing about it is he didn’t even think about it. He just put it on the net. That’s how good his shot is, and that’s he can score a lot of his goals. It’s good to get him on track.”
Goalie Kris Mayotte had another outstanding game. He made 28 saves, only surrendering Michael Karwoski’s power-play goal at 7:56 of the third. Mayotte won his 15th game, tying the team record set by Trevor Koenig in 1996-97.
Mayotte avenged his so-so performance Jan. 20 at Yale (6-10-2, 8-14-3), a 5-4 Union loss.
“It was important, but you can’t go into the game thinking like that,” Mayotte said. “If I think like that, I’m going to remember giving up five goals. That’s not what you want to do going into a game.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.