SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union said good-bye to an ECACHL tournament first-round bye Friday. And the Dutchmen won’t be seeing last-place Brown next weekend, either.
Colgate struck for two quick goals midway through the second period, and goalie Mark Dekanich stopped 29 shots to help the Raiders to a 2-0 victory over the Dutchmen at Messa Rink.
Union (9-8-4 ECACHL, 16-13-6 overall) could have finished as high as third, which would have given it next weekend off. Instead, the Dutchmen will be home next weekend for the first round against either Quinnipiac, Princeton or Yale.
Union, which is now tied for sixth with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, can finish between sixth and eighth. The Dutchmen’s loss, coupled with Harvard’s 3-2 win over St. Lawrence, eliminated Union from any shot at fifth place, which would have meant a matchup with Brown.
But losing the bye is what hurt Union the most. “There’s definitely a sense of disappointment,” Union goalie Kris Mayotte said. “It’s not just from tonight. The top four was one of our goal all year.”
The Dutchmen, who are two points ahead of eighth-place Clarkson, can clinch sixth place with a win Saturday against Cornell in the regular-season finale, no matter if RPI beats Colgate. Union has the tiebreaker over RPI by winning the season series, 1-0-1.
The Dutchmen played much better against the Raiders (13-6-2, 17-10-6) than they did back on Nov. 19 at Starr Rink, a 5-0 loss in which Union managed just 17 shots on Dekanich.
Union made Dekanich earn this shutout. The Dutchmen had the first five shots on goal of the game, and outshot the Raiders, 11-5, in the first period.
“We did a lot of very good things tonight,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “We just couldn’t get one by their goaltender. I thought the kid played a great game.”
The Raiders got their two goals in just under two minutes to snap a scoreless tie in the second.
On the first goal, tenacious pressure by Colgate kept the puck in the Union zone. Jesse Winchester was in the left-wing corner when he centered a pass to Jon Smyth, who was coming down unchecked down the right side. Smyth one-timed a shot past goalie Kris Mayotte at 9:12.
At 11:04, Kyle Wilson got the rebound of his own blocked shot in the Union left circle. He slid a pass to Marc Fulton who, like Smyth, was not covered as he came down the right side. Fulton chipped the puck past Mayotte.
“I thought we played a great game,” Leaman said. “We made two mistakes. They buried the mistakes because they have good forwards.”
Colgate, along with Dartmouth, moved into a tie for first place after Cornell’s lost to RPI, 2-0. While the Raiders, who also clinched a first-round bye, face the Engineers, the Big Green host St. Lawrence.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “We’ve battled through some adversity with a relatively young team.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.