B1G recaps: Power play propels Union to an upset win over No. 11 Michigan

No. 1 Union beat No. 4 Vermont, 5-2, Friday at Webster Bank Arena in the NCAA East Regional semifinals. (Matt Eisenberg)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Dutchmen brought their relentless, sixty-minute game to Ann Arbor as Union (N.Y.) beat No. 11 Michigan, 4-3, in the season-opening tilt for both teams. It was a contest in which the momentum turned three times on special teams. The third time — late in the third period — was the charm in the form of senior captain Mike Vecchione’s game-winning power-play goal, his first of the season.

It was all a matter of preparation, said Union coach Rick Bennett.

“Jason Tapp, our associate coach, does a very good job with our power play. The guys that are there on the power play are there for a reason and I think they came through, especially our ‘unity group’ there, our five guys. They did a really good job of leading our team tonight.”

Those five guys include Vecchione, his classmates Eli Lichtenwald and Jeff Taylor, and juniors Spencer Foo and Ryan Scarfo. Three of those players – Vecchione, Taylor and Foo – combined for all four goals and three assists. With the Dutchmen trailing 2-0 at 15:10 in the first, Foo scored with a wrist shot on the power play, then tied the game with his second goal of the night, burying Brett Supinski’s feed from behind the net.

After Michigan’s Will Lockwood netted his first of the season early in the second, the teams seemed locked into a 3-2 Michigan lead, until UM’s Cutler Martin took a high stick penalty at 14:17 in the third, a penalty forced by a very tenacious Union squad. It took Vecchione just over a minute to capitalize on that mistake and Taylor another two-and-a-half minutes to capitalize on the momentum from that power play.

“That power-play goal was kind of a turning point for their team, and maybe for our team, too,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “We took an unnecessary penalty and, sure enough, you have to pay for it. I thought it was an unearned goal on their part. We shouldn’t have taken the penalty to give them the power play. Up until then, I thought we were having a pretty good third period.”

It was special teams in the first period that gave the Wolverines their 2-0 lead to begin with. Sam Piazza scored from the top of the slot on the first Michigan power play at 8:54, and Tony Calderone made it 2-0 on a shorthanded breakaway at 11:52, moments after he exited the penalty box himself when the Wolverines were killing overlapping penalties.

“That was a great lift for us,” said Berenson. “It’s one of those things that’s a break. Sometimes you’re lucky. Tony’s a goal scorer and good for him. In the first shift of the third period, Alex Kile walked in on the breakaway and didn’t score. Those are huge points in the game that can go your way or not.”

The Dutchmen outshot the Wolverines 40-23, including a 15-7 differential in the third period. Even before drawing the penalty, Union was pressing.

“It was just nice for us to not get caught in the lull of the game,” said Bennett. “I don’t think we did that. I think we had some chances there in the third, instead of sailing pucks over the net like we were earlier, we finally hit the net.”

B1G results

No. 16 St. Lawrence 6, Penn State 3 

Junior Mike Marnell netted his first two of the season as No. 16 St. Lawrence beat Penn State, 6-3, to earn a split on the weekend. The Saints jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the 3:30 mark of the second with sophomore Jacob Pritchard’s first goal of the year, a marker that held up to be the game winner. The Nittany Lions drew within two goals in the second and added another in the third, but Marnell’s two third-period goals, the second an empty-netter, put the game out of reach. St. Lawrence junior Kyle Hayton made 43 saves as the Nittany Lions outshot the Saints, 46-26. Sophomore Chris Funkey gave up three goals in the loss and freshman Peyton Jones saw time at the end of the game.

Northern Michigan 3, Wisconsin 2

Three different Wildcats scored as Northern Michigan outlasted Wisconsin in the opener of a two-game set in Green Bay’s Resch Center. Seniors Gerard Hanson and Brock Maschmeyer each had three-point nights, as Hanson had a goal and two assists and Maschmeyer helped on all three tallies. The Wildcats led 2-1 after the first, with Hanson scoring just 19 seconds into the game. Wisconsin sophomore Will Johnson tied it on the power play at 4:50, but Robbie Payne gave the Wildcats the lead again on a five-on-three advantage at 10:17 in the first. Troy Loggins had the game-winning goal at the six-minute mark in the second and Corbin McGuire added an early third-period goal for the Badgers. NMU sophomore Atte Tolvanen made 27 saves as Wisconsin outshot Northern Michigan, 29-19.

Ohio State 3, No. 3 Denver 2

The Buckeyes never trailed as the knocked off No. 3 Denver 3-2 in the nightcap of the Icebreaker Tournament in Denver, Colo.  Ohio State stunned the Pioneers on a goal by junior Matthew Weis, 30 seconds into the contest. The visitors broke open a tie contest with a pair of goals in the second period. Sophomore John Wiitala netted what would prove to be the game-winner at 16:14 of the second. The Buckeyes will face Air Force, a surprise 2-1 winner over No. 5 Boston College, in the the tournament final on Saturday.