SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Down by two after the first period despite out playing 14th-ranked Massachusetts, Union coach Nate Leaman gave his team a simple message: “Don’t give up.”
The Dutchmen listened to Leaman. They overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2, and Olivier Bouchard took advantage of a miscue by Minutemen goalie Jon Quick to score the game-winning goal with 7:03 left in the game, giving the Dutchmen a 4-3 victory Saturday at Messa Rink.
It was the third straight win for Union (5-3-2), and its biggest of the season.
“I thought our guys battled through a lot of adversity,” Leaman said. I was proud of them. I was just glad to see them get rewarded for battling through the adversity. We got a good bounce at the end there.”
The Dutchmen fired the first shots on goal, but nothing got past Quick. The Minutemen (6-3-1) didn’t get their first shot on goalie Justin Mrazek until 7:27 elapsed in the first period. They scored on it. Matt Anderson put a wrist shot from the slot past Mrazek.
On its fourth shot of the game, Massachusetts increased its lead to two goals on a power-play tally late in the period. Justin Braun’s right-point wrister was tipped by Kevin Jarman past Mrazek.
After the first, Leaman thought back to a similar start Union had against Northeastern on Oct. 21. The Dutchmen trailed, 3-0, after one, and eventually lost, 5-0.
“What I told them, actually, is what I didn’t tell them at Northeastern,” Leaman said. “What I kick myself for not telling them after the first period at Northeastern is that with the way things are being called right now, anything can happen. You’re in this game.”
Sure enough, the second period was dominated by penalties. Referee Peter Feola called 14 penalties in the period.
And, like clockwork, the Dutchmen got back in the game.
Jeff Christiansen ignited things for the Dutchmen with a pair of power-play goals. He tipped a T.J. Fox shot past Quick at 2:10, and then put in a rebound of a Fox shot 3:11 later.
“Fox made some great plays,” said Christiansen, who has scored in three straight games. “He threw it to the net. They were leaving me wide open in front of their goalie.”
Mark Matheson regained the lead for the Minutemen midway through the second when he blasted a power-play goal from the top of the slot past Mrazek. But the Dutchmen tied it again with 6:18 left in the period. Jason Walters drove the net from the right wing and had his shot stopped by Quick. Josh Coyle got the rebound and put it in.
The game remained tied until Bouchard’s fluke goal. The play started when Quick went behind the net to play the puck. But he encountered Coyle.
“Their goalie the whole game was going out of the net and [being] very aggressive,” Coyle said. “I decided to forecheck him.”
Coyle retrieved the puck, and then shot it off of Quick’s left skate as he was going back to the net. The puck caromed into the goal crease, where Bouchard won the scramble and poked it into the net.
“Josh did the Mario Lemieux move, putting it in against the goalie and hoping it would bounce into the back of the net,” Bouchard said. “It just stayed on the line, and I came back and got the garbage.”
Massachusetts coach Don Cahoon could only just shake his head about how his team lost.
“We didn’t deserved to be up, 2-0,” Cahoon said. “We didn’t play well for two periods. They outplayed us, and outcompeted us. We were lucky it was tied at the end of two.
“What was interesting was that we played a pretty fine third period. I thought we outchanced them, and had the territorial edge. But I think the hockey gods just said, `You didn’t play hard enough long enough to win this one.’”
The Dutchmen return to ECACHL play Friday when they visit Colgate at 7 p.m. Union is 1-14 at Starr Rink in its Division I history. …
Union will play its next four games on the road. The Dutchmen return to Messa Rink Dec. 15 against Mass.-Lowell. …
Bouchard got his second game-winning goal in the last three contests. He netted the winner in the Dutchmen’s 4-3 overtime victory over Princeton Nov. 4. …
Union has scored four goals in each of its last three games.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.