SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — It was a night that Union displayed a lot of team speed Friday against Ferris State.
It was also a game in which the Dutchmen showed the fans at Messa Rink that they can play through adversity.
The Dutchmen overcame the loss of senior forward Josh Coyle after the first period, got second-period goals from sophomore forward Mario Valery-Trabucco and senior forward Torren Delforte and got an 18-save performance by senior goalie Justin Mrazek to beat the Bulldogs, 2-0, in the season opener for both teams.
Coyle, Union’s top returning scorer, twisted his knee during the first period. He was called for a tripping penalty late in the first, but didn’t return to serve the remaining time to start the second.
Union coach Nate Leaman said Coyle, who had 14 goals and 17 assists last season, will be out at least two weeks. Leaman added that he didn’t know when Coyle got hurt. It could have happened when Coyle was called for diving midway through the first.
But the loss of Coyle didn’t prevent the Dutchmen from posting their second straight season-opening win, 2-0 over the Bulldogs. Union won by the same score at Ferris State last Oct. 6.
“We faced a little adversity losing Josh there,” Leaman said. “That made things a little bit scrambly. I thought the guys rebounded pretty well from there.”
Using their speed, the Dutchmen dominated the first period. They had a 12-2 shot advantage, and didn’t allow the Bulldogs a shot on goal until there was 5:23 left in the period. (Ferris State defenseman Evan Case did fire a shot off the left post from the high slot midway through the period, which doesn’t count as a shot on goal.)
Meanwhile, Bulldogs goalie Pat Nagle kept the puck out of the net, too. His best save came with six seconds left, stopping Delforte on a shorthanded bid.
“It was huge just to get a jump on a team, and try to get them on their heels,” Delforte said. “We worked real hard this spring and summer, and we came back and have been working real hard beating up each other up for the last month. It paid off tonight.”
The Dutchmen scored twice in a 3:05 span midway through the second to take the lead.
Valery-Trabucco scored the first goal 7:19. Freshman forward Adam Presizniuk, who nearly scored seconds earlier when his shot when off Nagle’s glove and fell in the crease, was skating down the right wing when he saw Valery-Trabucco going to the net. Presizniuk fired the puck to Valery-Trabucco, who redirected it past Nagle.
“He made the perfect pass,” Valery-Trabucco said. “He’s a good player. He was coming down his off side. He saw me drive to the net, and he put it right on my stick.”
Delforte, who took Coyle’s spot on the top line, got the next one. Sophomore forward Jason Walters led a two-on-one rush down the left wing, and waited for the perfect time to pass the puck over to Delforte, who one-timed it by Nagle.
“Cookie [Matt Cook] made a nice play to the middle on the breakout,” Delforte said. “Wally used his strength and speed, and he fed me with a nice pass. I had a wide-open net.”
Mrazek had the shutout in last season’s opener. Last year’s blanking may have been a little tougher, as Ferris State peppered him with 41 shots.
“That first period, we were forechecking and took it to them a little bit,” said Mrazek, who earned his fifth career shutout. “Defensively, we were really sound tonight. That was the big difference.”
The two teams meet again tonight at 7. In last year’s second game between the two teams, Union held on for a 6-5 win.
“We’ve got to be happy with that win,” Mrazek said. “Obviously, [Saturday] is going to be a lot tougher game. They’re probably going to be a little bit mad. I’m sure they’re going to come out really banging, and really crashing the net.”
The last time Union won consecutive season openers was in 2000 and 2001. In 2000, the Dutchmen beat Army, 4-1, which was the last time they started the season at home. The following year, Union took a 2-1 victory at Notre Dame. … The Dutchmen are 8-9 in season openers.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.