ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Defending Whitelaw champion Union played like a bubble team with championship experience Friday in blanking Yale 5-0.
Union struggled at different points throughout the season, but entered Friday night with a four-game win streak and its NCAA fate in its hands. With the win, the Dutchmen remain on the right side of the bubble with a shot to lock up an automatic bid Saturday against Brown.
2013 ECAC Hockey Championship
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After Niagara was booted from the Atlantic Hockey tournament, Union needed a win to create some separation at the bubble. It never seemed in doubt as the Dutchmen ripped off four goals in the first 25 minutes.
Troy Grosenick did his part posting 34 saves for his third straight win in Atlantic City.
“The guys in front of me let me see every shot and they were clearing out rebounds when they had to,” said Grosenick. “That is a goalie’s best friend right there, your defense clearing out shots.”
Grosenick gave high praise to his defense, while Bennett was quick to credit his goaltender.
“Obviously, Grosenick played a great game for us and settled things down when we needed it,” Bennett said.
Union took the 1-0 lead 2:59 into the first period on a snipe from Wayne Simpson. Kyle Bodie fed Simpson on the left side where he ripped a shot past Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm.
The Dutchmen added a second goal with 4:50 left in the opening frame. This time, it was Daniel Carr taking the shot from left circle. His shot slipped through Malcolm and trickled into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.
“We worked all week in practice that the first goal wins and I think it was huge,” Carr said. “We know Yale’s a fast-starting team and we had to match that.”
Bennett echoed the goal Carr’s reaction.
“That gave us momentum and we needed that,” said Bennett. “It was nice for Simpson to get that kind of jump start and I thought it fed our bench.”
“I’m surprised,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “I know we are a better hockey team than that what you saw tonight. I give Union credit, but I know our guys and I know we will be better tomorrow night.”
Union made it 3-0 just 21 seconds into the second period. Greg Coburn chipped the puck to neutral zone sending Max Novak and Matt Hatch on a two-on-one. Novak held the puck and waited until he was at the bottom of the right circle to wrist it past Malcolm.
The Dutchmen added a fourth just five minutes into the second when Josh Jooris took a feed from Matt Wilkins behind the net and snapped it under Malcolm.
Yale, similar to Quinnipiac, entered the weekend in the upper echelon of the PairWise. The difference was that the Bobcats already locked up a No. 1 seed in the tournament, while the Bulldogs sit right on the edge of the top seeds, tied for fourth with Boston College.
The loss places Yale in the consolation game tomorrow against Quinnipiac, a game that Allain is not taking lightly.
“We need to improve on all aspects of our game and I believe we will,” Allain added. “Our focus is always win the game in front of us so as far as I am concerned, it is the biggest game of the year. Our guys are competitors and they come to compete. We’ve got a hockey game tomorrow and we’re looking forward to it.”