SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Union coach Nate Leaman got the consistent effort he has been looking for in Saturday’s non-league hockey game against the No. 12 Northeastern Huskies.
The Dutchmen didn’t get the win, but they didn’t lose, either.
Leaman was very pleased with his team following a 1-1 tie against the Hockey East-leading Huskies at Messa Rink. It was a big improvement over Friday’s 5-2 loss at Providence, a game in which the Dutchmen gave up four third-period goals and were outshot 48-27, including 37-14 over the final two periods.
“I thought we played well throughout the game,” Leaman said. “Most importantly, I thought we played as a team throughout the game. That’s a good hockey team over there. They swept UNH [University of New Hampshire] on their ice, and beat BC [Boston College] on their ice. I was impressed with our effort tonight.”
The Dutchmen (3-6-3) have played inconsistent hockey in three of their previous four gamesm, and it looked like there was going to be even more trouble for them when freshman defenseman Brock Matheson was ejected 37 seconds into the game for a hitting from behind major. That left Union with five defensemen for the rest of the game.
However, Matheson’s ejection served as motivation for the Dutchmen to tighten up defensively. They killed off the major power play, which was interrupted by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Northeastern’s Randy Guzior.
“Whenever you have five defensemen, you’re going to have to be that much more careful,” said goalie Corey Milan, who had 29 saves. “At the same time, you can’t sit back and you can’t relax. You have to be aggressive. Our defenseman did a good job.”
Union took a 1-0 lead at 7:49 of the first period when Mario Valery-Trabucco came down the slot, took a pass from Stephane Boileau and fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of goalie Brad Thiessen.
“It was a good dump, and Boileau won the race to the puck,” Valery-Trabucco said. “He passed the puck to me. I don’t know if ‘Prez’ [Adam Presizniuk] tipped it on not, but somehow, it ended up on my stick. I just shot it from there.”
Union had a couple of chances for goals late in the second period, but Lane Caffaro, from the left circle, and Brendan Milnamow, from the right circle, hit the post.
Guzior tied it for the Huskies (7-4-2) 2:41 into the third on a scramble in front of Milan, who had lost his stick seconds earlier.
“I tried to be aggressive,” Milan said. “The rebound got ping-ponged behind me, and it ended up in the net.”
The Dutchmen had a two-man advantage for a 1:41 midway through the third and had several good chances. Boileau was stoned twice by Thiessen on backdoor opportunities, and Caffaro was stopped from the top of the left circle.
“I thought their kid made great saves, especially the last shot by Lane,” Leaman said. “I thought that puck had eyes, and he somehow found it. I’ll give their goalie a lot of credit.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.