ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Union completed its journey back to the top of ECAC Hockey.
The Dutchmen clinched their second straight Whitelaw Cup with a 3-1 win over Brown on Saturday, and the championship experience was evident the entire weekend as Union controlled play with puck possession and timely goals.
2013 ECAC Hockey Championship
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“I thought Union personified a champion,” Brown coach Brendan Whittet said. “They are a hell of a good team.”
Both Brown and Union entered the championship game with their seasons on the line, needing an automatic bid to make the national tournament.
While this year’s Union team did not dominate through the regular season like it did last year, Union coach Rick Bennett made it clear after Friday night’s shutout win over Yale that his team is “darn, darn good.”
“The locker room is a sacred place,” Bennett said about his team’s mentality. “We haven’t put a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ on Troy Grosenick or Max Novak yet, but it’s guys like that … who do a tremendous job keeping that locker room sacred. There is just tremendous character.”
Union goaltender Grosenick dominated the weekend, allowing just one goal on 66 shots in two games. Grosenick was awarded with goaltender of the tournament and most outstanding player awards.
“I just want to thank you guys for providing us with so much bulletin-board material this year,” Grosenick said to the media after the championship.
Union pocketed a pair of goals in the first period on just seven shots on net. First, Daniel Carr who gathered a loose puck on the far side of the net and backhanded his shot past Brown goaltender Anthony Borelli. Josh Jooris fed the puck through the slot, where Carr eventually found it and buried it.
Then with just 13.3 seconds left, Max Novak collected a deflection from Matt Hatch at the top of slot and sniped a shot just under the crossbar for a 2-0 lead.
Union made it 3-0 just 2:20 into the second period on Novak’s second of the night. The Dutchmen had a pair of chances turned away around the crease, but Brown could not clear the puck. Greg Coburn fed Novak at the right circle, where he wristed it past Borelli for a three-goal lead.
“If we are going to be totally frank and we look at tonight’s game, we didn’t come out with our ‘A’ game right away,” Bennett said. “Brown came out flying and I thought we’d use our experience early, but we used our experience as the game went on.”
Brown cut into Union’s lead 7:57 into the second period on a Dennis Robertson power-play goal. Robertson wristed a shot through traffic that trickled through Grosenick’s five hole.
The Bears could not add enough pressure in the third period, but did tip a puck off the right post in the final minute.
“It’s athletics and it’s life,” Whittet said. “We worked as hard as we possibly could and sometimes things don’t go as you envision them. It’s a lesson for the boys and it is hard. It’s really hard. There is a family of guys in that locker room that is devastated.”
While Union moves on, the season is over for a Brown team that turned heads across the league.
“For us, I look back on this year as a tremendous step in the right direction,” Whittet said. “I showed up here four years ago and we wanted to build a culture. We didn’t need to rebuild a team; we needed to build a hockey program.”