SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Lane Caffaro brought Union back from the depths of despair against 12th-ranked Clarkson. Replay saved the Dutchmen a loss. Adam Presizniuk nearly won it on a breakaway in overtime.
And, oh, by the way, Union will be home for the playoffs.
Caffaro had a goal and two assists, potential Nick Dodge goal in the final minute of regulation was waved off after a video review, and Presizniuk was stoned by Golden Knights goalie David Leggio as the Dutchmen earned a 3-3 ECAC
Hockey tie in a very chippy game Friday at Messa Rink.
The tie earned Union (8-6-5 ECACH, 13-11-6 overall) at least home ice in the first round of the ECACH tournament. It is the fifth time in six years that the Dutchmen have earned home ice since the 12-team tournament was adopted in 2003.
“It’s a baby accomplishment, but it’s not our goal,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “We need to keep getting points in order to obtain our goal.”
That goal is a first-round bye. With three games left, the Dutchmen are in sixth place, one point behind fourth-place Harvard and Quinnipiac for the final first-round bye, two points behind third-place Cornell and five points behind second-place Princeton. Union is six points behind league-leading Clarkson (12-4-3, 17-10-4), the Knights have the tiebreaker by winning the season series, 1-0-1.
The feisty game, which included the ejection of Union’s Chris Potts for a major hitting from behind penalty, ended with Clarkson defenseman Phil Paquet nearly ramming Union forward Josh Coyle into the Clarkson left-wing boards. There was a tense exchange between Leaman and Clarkson coach George Roll during the postgame handshake.
“It’s between him and I,” Roll said. “It’s in the battle of the game.”
After Caffaro assisted on Jason Walters’ power-play goal with 6:45 left in the first period, the Knights, on goals by Steve Zalewski late in the first and Tom Pizzo and Brandon DeFazio early in the second, took a 3-1 lead. Clarkson fired 11 shots on goalie Corey Milan in the first four minutes of the second.
A good break for Caffaro got the Dutchmen going late in the second. His right-point shot was partially blocked, but landed on Presizniuk’s stick in the right circle. Presizniuk’s fired it past Leggio with 6:12 left.
Less than two minutes later, Caffaro tied it when he converted a Stephane Boileau pass on a power play.
“We came out flat, which is unacceptable,” Caffaro said. “Once we got rolling, and got into our game plans, it’s tough to play with us.”
Dodge thought he had won the game with 56.6 seconds left when his shot from the bottom of the right circle got past Milan. Referee Alex Dell initially ruled a goal. But since the game was being televised by Time Warner Cable, Dell reviewed the play. He saw that the puck went in under the right side of the net, and he waved off the goal.
In Union’s last televised home game against Harvard two weeks ago, replay wasn’t provided to the officials.
“In the Harvard game, their third goal was very, very questionable,” Leaman said. “Thanks to [TW Sports executive producer] Greg Bobbitt and Time Warner, he put in instant replay for us. And because of instant replay, the correct call was called.”
Union got a power play with 25.5 seconds left in overtime. Presizniuk got a breakaway, and fired a wrister on Leggio. Unlike last year, when T.J. Fox scored the overtime winner for Union, Leggio made a right pad save.
“I thought Leggio made a great save,” Leaman said. “I thought both goaltenders were true to the task.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for the The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.