SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — In front of a crowd of 2,196 on “White Out Night,” the Union Dutchmen came through for their fans with a 4-1 victory over Princeton. With the win, the Dutchmen keep pace with Cornell and Yale, who both won tonight and lead Union by just two points for the top spot in the league standings.
“Their strength is that they always go hard,” said Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky. “There has never been a game where they have played lackadaisical against us.”
Union was backstopped by goaltender Keith Kinkaid, who rebounded from an awful performance against Dartmouth last Friday and made 35 saves.
“I thought Keith was our best player tonight,” said Union coach Nate Leaman. “He wasn’t giving up many rebounds, and that was key.”
After a scoreless first frame, it was the Dutchmen who struck first when leading-scorer Mario Valery-Trabucco ripped a shot over the glove of Princeton goaltender Zane Kalemba from the left side of the slot. With the goal, Valery-Trabucco broke Union’s Division I single-season points record with 39 points. Linemate Adam Presizniuk set the mark last season.
“It feels good,” said Valery-Trabucco. “I just got the puck on the stick and it just went in.”
Coach Leaman was very impressed with the way his star winger played tonight.
“He’s a huge difference maker,” said Leaman. “He deserves everything he gets.”
The Dutchmen expanded their lead with 7:10 remaining in the middle period when freshman Jeremy Welsh slammed home his eighth goal of the season. The play began when John Simpson won the faceoff at the right circle in Princeton’s zone to Stephane Boileau. Boileau touch-passed the puck to the front of the net, where Welsh was able to get his stick on the puck and put it into the back of the net.
The third period was Union’s sharpest period of the game. Coach Leaman said this was due to playing “more detailed hockey.”
Freshman Kyle Bodie put Union up 3-0 midway through the final frame. He picked up the puck on the left side of the Tigers’ zone and carried the puck patiently behind the Princeton net and to the bottom of the right circle, where he wristed a shot through Kalemba. This was Bodie’s third goal in as many weekends.
Princeton finally got on the board with 5:17 remaining when Kevin Lohry scored his fourth goal of the season due to some sloppy play by the Union defenders.
With 3:25 remaining, Coach Gadowsky pulled Kalemba in favor of an extra attacker. This risky move worked against Gadowsky and the Tigers, as the Dutchmen put the game out of reach when Kelly Zajac scored an empty-net goal.
With the end of the regular season approaching, every game matters that much more to every team, but especially the Dutchmen, who are fighting for seeding at the top of the ECAC standings. Tomorrow night, they welcome Quinnipiac for “Senior Night.” If Union is able to beat or tie the Bobcats tomorrow night, they will officially receive a first round bye in the ECAC playoffs. If so, this will be the second time in the past three seasons that the Dutchmen obtained a first round bye.
Princeton on the other hand, will head to Troy to take on RPI tomorrow night. The Tigers are three points behind eighth place Harvard. If the Tigers are able to get to eighth place, they will host a first round playoff series.
“Elite teams this time of the year get sweeps,” said Leaman. “We need to make sure we have our ‘A’ game tomorrow.”
Kinkaid agreed with his coach. “We just got to bring it every night,” said the freshman netminder. “We want first place, and that’s the ultimate goal.”