SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — With only three games left in the regular season, Union and Quinnipiac knew the stakes of the game. Coming in, Union trailed Cornell and Yale for the top spot by two points, while Quinnipiac was trying to fight its way into the top four for a first-round bye. Union’s offense proved too much for Quinnipiac, however, as the Dutchman topped the Bobcats 7-3 in front of 2,147 fans on Senior Night in Achilles Arena.
It did not take long for the scoring to start, as less than five minutes into the game, Union registered its first goal. The goal was scored by Brock Matheson with the assists going to Jeff Christiansen and Jason Shaffer, two seniors making their way into the lineup on senior night.
“The players really wanted them in the lineup tonight since it is ‘Senior Night,’” said Union coach Nate Leaman, “It was the first time I saw a leadership group come to me that passionate.”
“We thought they deserved the chance; they have put in the time in practice,” added forward Jason Walters.
Union eventually took its lead to 2-0 after Walters was able to fit the puck between the legs of Quinnipiac goalie Dan Clarke. Mike Schreiber was credited with the assist, giving him the record for points for a Union defenseman in a season with 27.
Following the goal, Quinnipiac pulled Clarke from goal and replaced him with freshman Mathieu Cadieux.
Less than a minute later, Quinnipiac got on the board. Mike Atkinson scored the goal after getting a pass by Russell Goodman. He fired the shot by the left wing, catching Union goalie Keith Kinkaid at a bad angle.
Heading into the second period, Quinnipiac tied the game up 5:50 in. The goal was scored by Greg Holt as he was able to push the puck into the net after Kinkaid mistakenly moved his skate from the post.
The game would not stay tied long. Three minutes later, Union answered back, as Christiansen smacked a shot past a screened Cadieux, with the assist given to Jon Lareau. The goal came after a few Union attempts, as they were able to take advantage of some second opportunities.
With only 3:53 left in the period, the Dutchmen moved up by two. Jason Shaffer scored the goal, with assists to Lareau and Schreiber.
To start the third period, Quinnipiac immediately put itself at a disadvantage, as Eric Lampe hit Kinkaid after the play and was sent out for two minutes. Jeremy Welsh took advantage of the power-play opportunity, scoring Union’s fifth goal of the night with an assist from Boileau.
Trying to mount a comeback, Quinnipiac put pressure on Union, with Brandon Wong eventually getting the puck into the net. Unfortunately for Quinnipiac, this was the last goal they would score for the rest of the night.
Before the game ended, Union scored two more times to give them a 7-3 victory. The first goal was scored by Mario Valery-Trabucco; the goal gives him 55 for his career, tying him with Jordan Webb for most goals in a career for a Union player. The second goal was an unassisted goal credited to Andrew Buote.
The win gives Union 12 ECAC wins, the most they have won in a season in the program’s history. The win also guarantees that Union will finish no lower than third place in the ECAC conference.
“Our job is not done; this is the ECAC, anything can happen,” Walters said after asked what he thought about clinching third in the ECAC.
On the flip side, Quinnipiac’s chances of getting a bye in the first round seem all but finished; though at the very worst they will finish seventh, securing home-ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Next week Union (18-8-6 overall, 12-4-4 in ECAC) travels to face Cornell and Colgate, while Quinnipiac (15-15-2, 9-11-0) go home to face Brown and Yale.