Notebook: Future’s bright for Union, Minnesota

Minnesota’s Justin Kloos scores the first goal for Minnesota on Saturday (photo: Jim Rosvold).

PHILADELPHIA — Union coach Rick Bennett and Minnesota’s Don Lucia both had high praise for their freshman classes after the Dutchmen’s 7-4 victory in Saturday’s national championship game.

“The freshmen (Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata, Hudson Fashing) scored three of the goals tonight,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “It always [tough] when you lose your final game of the year, but … for the freshmen, it’s part of the process that you learn from. Hopefully they can take this [loss] as we begin next year and take another step forward. A lot of them have had great years for us, and we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in without them.”

2014 Frozen Four

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On the Union side, rookies Mike Vecchione and Eli Lichtenwald scored for the Dutchmen.

“Yeah, let’s hope our future is bright with those guys, said Bennett, “Because they did an excellent job this past season.”

All-tournament team

Goal: Colin Stevens, Union
Defense: Mat Bodie, Union
Defense: Shayne Gostisbehere, Union
Forward: Daniel Ciampini, Union
Forward: Kyle Rau, Minnesota
Forward: Sam Warning, Minnesota

Most outstanding player: Shayne Gostisbehere, Union

A real plus

Gostisbehere, who had a goal and four assists on the weekend was an amazing plus-7 in the title game, after recording a minus-2 in Union’s semifinal win over Boston College.

“A plus-7 is pretty staggering,” said Union coach Rick Bennett. “He’s, you know, maybe some of the plays he wasn’t really a part of, but just his presence out there does create something, because you’ve got to be aware. That’s the sign of a great player.”

Making an impression

Gostisbehere, a third round draft pick by Philadelphia, was under a microscope this weekend and responded, treating Flyers fans to a preview of what they can expect in the near future. His performance recalled that of Thomas Vanek, who was named the most valuable player of the 2003 Frozen Four in Buffalo, leading Minnesota to the national championship.

“Yeah, it’s definitely pretty cool,” he said on winning a title in Philadelphia. “But when I’m playing with my teammates, nothing else matters.”

To beat the best …

Union was ranked No. 1 in the poll, but was the No. 3 seed heading into the tournament. To win the title, the Duthchmen had to go through second-seeded Boston College and top seed Minnesota.

“If you looked at the end of the year, there were kind of three teams that were BC, Minnesota, and Union, that were right at the top,” said Lucia. “Union beat BC and Minnesota back-to-back, and they certainly earned their national title. They’re an outstanding team.”

Attendance and atmosphere

The championship game drew 18,742 to Wells Fargo Center, the sixth-highest crowd for a championship game.

However, not every seat was filled. The arena seats 19,537 for hockey. It marked the second time in a row the national title game was not a sellout after 11 straight years with capacity crowds (not including the unique situation in 2010 where 37,592 were in attendance at cavernous Ford Field).

But a few empty seats didn’t dampen the atmosphere, which was electric for all three games.

“I thought Philly did a tremendous job as a venue,” said Lucia. “I thought they had a great atmosphere in the building tonight. … I thought it was a great environment for a national championship.”

“I noticed the Union faithful out there for sure,” said Gostisbehere. “I saw the fans in the stands, and they looked pretty happy. My mom was crying, of course. It was really awesome.”

“I don’t think many guys really took in the atmosphere during the game, but once that buzzer sounded, you look up and it’s a big building,” said Union defenseman Mat Bodie. “I didn’t realize how high the stands went up. It was just an incredible moment for me to soak it all in and see that jam-packed building. But like I said, during the game we were just all business. I hope everyone got to take it in at the end of the game there.”


• Union became the 21st Division I men’s hockey program to win a national title. Three of the last four seasons have seen a school win its first title after 17 seasons of wins by teams that had previously won a championship.

• It was the seventh championship game loss for Minnesota, a record. Boston College has lost six times in the title game.

• The 89 shots on goal (49 by Union; 40 by Minnesota) was a record for a regulation NCAA title game. Bowling Green and Minnesota-Duluth combined for 96 in a four-overtime championship game in 1984.

• Coming into the game, Minnesota was 18-0-5 when scoring the first goal this season.

• Union became the third Division III school to win a national title. Colorado College (1950 and 1957) and RPI (1954 and 1985) are the others.

• This season, all four NCAA hockey championships were won by Division III institutions. Clarkson won the D-I women’s championship (also over Minnesota). St. Norbert (men) and Plattsburgh (women) won D-III titles.


  1. Hope for Minnesota? In what for, a new coaching staff. This team has massively underachieved for a decade now. he has lived off of two national championships. No leadership, no motivation and no pride.

      • Real intelligible response. What is it exactly that I am an idiot about. There no leadership on this team, there is no motivation other and to wait for their NHL contracts to fatten up and NO pride in being a part of this team. Lucia has lived off of two National titles won over a decade ago. Did Jerrry York settle for 2 titles, or 3 or 4. No and he has done it with less “so called talent” . This team is the best funded College hockey program in the country. Has the most draft pics year after year and still suffers embarrassing loss after loss. Yale, Holy Cross twice to both North Dakota and BC not to mention being sweep by Alaska-Anchorage in the Wcha Tourny. So how is it that I am an idiot. Sounds like a typical Minnesota fan happy with mediocrity, just happy to be there. “Idiot” huh that’s a response I expect from a North Dakota Neanderthal fan.

        • Your an idiot because you posted a comment that only an idiot would make. There is a huge amount of leadership on this team Kyle Rau typifies a player who leads by example and gives 110% everytime he is on the ice and plays in all situations. A team without leadership cannot make to the championship game. You speak like someone who has never played the game and the handful of ignorant Gopher fans that expect the Gophers to win every game they play 8-0 and get a national championship every year and it is truly ignorant. Really BC has less talent? Well they have a boat load of Canadians on their team and 95% of our kids are from Minnesota. Also looks at many of the teams that we are playing that have 22, 23, 24 even 25 year olds playing against our 18 year olds. Also you can bow out unless you make their to begin with. The Gophers have lost to the eventual National Champion the last 3 years and 2 of those years they were in the Frozen Four. You talk about the loss to Holy Cross, well that was almost a decade ago too, so if you aren’t going to count the National Championship from just a couple years earlier then don’t speak of Holy Cross (BTW the Gophers had poor goaltending and that is what lost them that game). Alaska-Anchorage yes we did lose to them and that was just when we were getting back into playing well after a couple of lean years (ask Michigan about that) and Alaska-Anchorage finished 6th that year and the Gophers 5th, hardly an upset. Ask Wisconsin about getting really upset my Alaska-Anchorage a couple of years earlier. The Gophers won in 2002 and 2003, made the NCAA tournament every year since except for 2 since then and made it to the Frozen Four 3 times. The article is about a bright future for the Gophers, with the highest goal scoring freshman class in the nation, the second highest scoring freshman class overall, the best defense in the country, the second highest rated goal tender in the country and only losing a few to graduation to go with a coach that has won almost 700 games. I would say that the future is very bright. If you are not able to see that, you are an idiot!

          • Only comment I have to make is that BC doesn’t have a “boatload” of Canadians (they have 4), we do have 16 players from New England or NY/NJ. Just sayin…and BC is the youngest team in the nation as well. I get your point though…

          • Your are right, I guess I wasn’t referring to any particular year, but just by comparison over the years. my apologies for the poor phrasing.

          • Settling for mediocrity is like giving up before even playing. When you settle for just being good you NEVER become great. I bleed Gopher maroon and gold and despise anything Boston hockey. Wanting my team that I cheer and jeer for every game to live up to the talent they supposedly have is not being an idiot. Its expecting and wanting more. I felt sorry for Wilcox, but also angry that a coach allowed that to happen. Fact something is no longer working for this team with this head coach…FACT, you cant deny it. This has become as dismal and as embarrassing as the pitiful Woog years. Everything I stated is a fact, facts you have yet to dispute. You obviously enjoy averageness, so enjoy because that is what we have.

          • How is getting to the Frozen Four 2 out of the last 3 years settling for mediocrity? At the beginning of the year, did you really expect this team to be playing in the championship game with all of the departures from last year? With all of the freshmen there were so many unknowns.
            I’d say Lucia and staff did a hell of a job getting this team to play that well. Great season Gophers, can’t wait for next year!

          • If you look at this guy’s other comments, they are just as negative as this. Must be sad not being able to find anything good about anything. Yes, it was a disappointing loss, but this team clearly overachieved based on the expectations at the beginning of the season. Mediocrity would be finishing in the middle of the pack and not making the playoffs at all. “Averageness” (is that even a word?) would mean not winning the regular season championship the last three years. There is a foundation in place for many seasons of success. Only one team can win a national title each year. But winning the regular season title the last three years and making it to the national championship game this year? That was fun to watch. In the end, isn’t that why we watch hockey? If you can’t enjoy, or even recognize that this team is MUCH better than average, then that’s just sad.

        • You’re an idiot because (1) The Gophers have been eliminated from the NCAA tournament by the eventual national champion for 3 consecutive years; (2) Union is the ONLY school that Minnesota didn’t have a .500 or better winning percentage against this season; (3) they lost a ridiculous amount of talent last year (4 of top 5 scorers PLUS top 2 D-men — none of whom were seniors); (4) and they STILL went into the NCAA’s as the #1 overall seed and went all the way to the title game.

          If this is what qualifies as “underachieving”, and worthy of replacing the coaching staff, I guess the other 57 teams that didn’t win the national title this year should also fire their coaching staffs.

  2. Nice Chris… Congrats to Union, a truly remarkable story. Unlike Miami and Notre Dame in recent years, the Dutch men got there and won it. In the process, they’ve become the elite program in ECACH (in the past 3-4 years) and now one of the top “current” programs in the country. If they stay true to their championship “blueprint” and how they got there (as Jerry York has adhered to the advice given to him by MSU’s Ron Mason), Union, over time, has the opportunity to become one of the nation’s elite programs. Rick Bennett has done a masterful job of taking the program that Nate Leaman built and established with his assistance, to the championship level… It has been just awesome to watch.

  3. I know Union won, but Wilcox did have a better save % in those 4 playoff games than Stevens, .925 to .915, respectively. Guess this wasn’t Wilcox’ year for goalie honors (aside from Big Ten player of the year).


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