Union finds a successful, familiar formula late in the season

Union is back in a familiar spot.

Friday night’s 5-0 win over Yale put the fourth-seeded Dutchmen in the ECAC Hockey title game for the second time in as many years, and third time in the last four years.

2013 ECAC Hockey Championship

Follow all our coverage of the ECAC Hockey postseason at Playoff Central

Union is playing in the late game Saturday thanks to an outstanding penalty-kill unit, timely goals and a shutout from Troy Grosenick — all hallmarks of their Frozen Four run last season.

But it hasn’t always been that way for the Dutchmen. Union got off to a 8-2-1 start but wasn’t necessarily playing its best, in spite of the record. A 2-6-3 skid that extended from December into the second half set the Dutchmen back a bit, but Union was able to secure a first-round bye on the final weekend of the regular season and entered Atlantic City on a four-game winning streak.

“We’re playing with a lot of confidence, but we’re relaxed at the same time,” Grosenick said. “I think we’re peaking at the right time, is the best way to put it.”

Still, the Dutchmen aren’t looking at this year any differently. There’s a good chance Union is tired of the proverbial roller coaster-season talk, but it’ll have an opportunity to put an end to that Saturday night against Brown.

“You get tired as a coach, and I know the players get tired of, of the up-and-down season jazz,” Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett said. “But it’s part of the racket that we’re in — not that we’re going to accept it. It kind of fuels our fire a bit too. These guys are resilient. You’re going to write what you want to write, but I think this is a pretty darn good team.”

Still, they’ll face a tough opponent Saturday in Brown, as the Bears thoroughly outplayed Quinnipiac and tied Union earlier in the year before the Dutchmen won 2-0 at Messa Rink on Feb. 16. The Bears were also the only ECAC team to sweep the Dutchmen last season.

As for Yale, the Bulldogs’ second trip in three years to Atlantic City wasn’t as productive as their first. Yale beat Cornell 6-0 in the 2011 league title game but heads into Saturday’s consolation game against Quinnipiac looking for a win to secure an NCAA tournament berth.

The Bulldogs entered Friday tied for fourth in the PairWise Rankings, but currently sit in a tie for eighth.

That, coupled with the determination to rebound from the loss to Union, should be all of the motivation Yale needs heading into Saturday’s consolation game at Quinnipiac, which swept the season series against the Bulldogs.

“I know we are a better hockey team than what you saw tonight,” Yale coach Keith Allain said.

“We’re playing the No. 1 team in the country that’s 15 minutes from our school,” Bulldogs captain Andrew Miller said. “It’s a big game for us and a big game for them. We love playing them and we’re going to try and get a win.”


• This is the only the second time both semifinal games have been shutouts, as Cornell and Yale each blanked Dartmouth and Yale, respectively.

• The announced attendance for both games was 3,145.

• It’s the second year in a row the league’s consolation game will feature an NCAA participant. Cornell won the consolation matchup last season, while Quinnipiac is assured the No. 1 seed in the national tournament this year.