Union got the monkey of its back this past weekend with two victories over RIT and Niagara.
The Dutchmen enter conference play this coming weekend.
“Our coaching staff was pretty happy for the players,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “They got a chance to get a couple of wins under their belt, especially going into the RPI weekend here, so it’s nice to have a few wins.”
Just like the Dutchmen, the Engineers are also coming off their first victory of the season. Despite their combined 3-6-2 record going into the upcoming weekend, Bennett knows this weekend is going to be a tough test like every year.
Winning the previous weekend before facing RPI always helps.
“It helps with momentum, but people know, especially around here, certainly in these parts, the RPI-Union matchup, it doesn’t matter the record, you can toss those out,” Bennett said. “It’s always a spirited match. We are preparing as best as we can through our four practices to get ready for a very good RPI team.”
After Mike Vecchione and Spencer Foo were one of the top one-two punches in all of college hockey during the 2016-17 season, the Dutchmen look to score by committee this season. No better example was this past weekend when 13 players found the scoresheet.
Overall, Ryan Scarfo leads the Dutchmen in scoring with seven points as he has three goals and four assists.
Bennett hopes the spreading of the wealth continues.
“I thought collectively, that was probably the key in a few areas going into the weekend,” Bennett said. “What we have been struggling with came to the forefront in the fact we have had some defensive scoring [and] our freshmen didn’t play like freshmen. Our goaltender had a very good weekend.”
Freshmen Jack Adams and Josh Kosack each have a goal and three assists on the season. Adams had three points on the weekend, while Kosack had a pair. Sophomore defenseman Vas Kolias had three points and J.C. Brassard and Greg Campbell each had two points from the blue line.
After starting the first five games of the season, Jake Kupsky had the weekend off and freshman Darion Hanson made his first two college starts over the weekend, only allowing two goals on the weekend.
The East Bethel, Minn., native has given Bennett a lot to think about who he’s going to start on the weekend.
“Sometimes players need a breather,” Bennett said of Kupsky. “For a goaltender, when he’s out, he’s still on the bench and he still has the best seat in the house to watch and keep growing even though he’s not playing. We just felt it was Darion Hanson’s time. He went in and he produced. He makes our decision going into RPI a little harder.”
Coaching record not just about Bennett
With the two victories on the weekend, Bennett has 139 wins, surpassing his former boss Nate Leaman.
For him, the record is a team effort.
“First, I want to thank the coaching staff and the players that I have a chance to work with over the years,” Bennett said. “I wish I could name every person because their contributions to this program have meant the world to me. I am very lucky to work with such great players and a great staff.
Bennett joined Leaman’s staff during the 2005-06 season after spending five seasons at his alma mater, Providence.
He was named the head coach in the 2011-12 season when Leaman took the Providence head coaching job.
Bennett credits Leaman where the program is today.
“A couple years before his last year here, what was kind of being built over time, I am grateful for Nate for giving me the opportunity to come here as an assistant,” Bennett said. “Also, the opportunity to become a head coach.”
St. Lawrence learning on the fly
SLU coach Mark Morris is trying to steady the ship after the Saints have started 0-6 on the season.
With five of the six games having been against top-20 opponents and the other against the school that has the most Division I national championships in history, Morris is trying his best with the cards he has been dealt with.
“It’s a daunting schedule, one that I inherited from Coach (Greg) Carvel,” Morris said. “With the change in our roster, a lot of new faces with a new goalie as our starter, I think it made for some close games, but it hasn’t gotten us over the hump just yet.”
The Saints suffered a 6-5 loss in overtime on Friday night against Providence while dropping a 5-0 decision against UMass Lowell on Saturday evening.
There’s been a step forward, then two steps back for St. Lawrence so far this season.
“We’ve got a lot of teaching to do, [but] we have had some real solid efforts,” Morris said. “One in particularly when we lost Friday night against North Dakota. That was a winnable game for us. Against Providence, we played real well. Well enough to win that one and yet, there’s still a goose egg in the win column.”
That Friday night game against North Dakota where SLU lost 2-1 and followed it up with a 6-1 loss the next night.
Morris also said the Saints haven’t had a great deal of puck luck either. They are getting the shots, though, averaging 26.3 per game.
When Carvel put the nonconference schedule together before he left St. Lawrence to take the UMass job, the team looked to be good position with Kyle Hayton being a senior this season. Hayton graduated in three years and is now a graduate transfer and goalie at Wisconsin.
That’s what they have in front of them this week as they take on their former No. 1 netminder as they travel to Madison to take on Hayton’s new team, currently No. 5 team in the nation.
Morris isn’t focused on the storyline heading into the contest.
“I am sure that’s on the minds of the players,” Morris said. “At this stage, I am more concerned about ourselves than who’s in the other net. We are looking to gain some traction whoever we are playing against. That’s been my focus this week and trying to improve our game plan, just making our guys more responsible and accountable for their roles on the team.”
Players of the Week
Scarfo has been named the ECAC Player of the Week as he had two goals and three assists in two games this weekend for Union. Other nominees include Devin Brosseau of Clarkson, Nick Germain of Quinnipiac and Jake Hayhurst of RPI.
Troy York of RPI took Rookie of the Week honors with two goals and an assist as RPI faced RIT and Niagara over the weekend. Jack Adams of Union, Grant Cooper of Clarkson and Oden Tufto of Quinnipiac were also nominated.
Jake Kielly of Clarkson was named the Goaltender of the Week as he earned a weekend split with UMass Lowell and Providence. He had a 4-0 shutout over the Friars on Saturday night. The only other nominee was Darion Hanson of Union.
QU’s Smith reaches 100 career points
Quinnipiac’s Landon Smith became the 24th Division I player for Quinnipiac to reach the 100-point plateau as it came in his 127th career game.
The 100th point was an assist on a Chase Priskie goal that tied the game at one Saturday night. He also assisted on another Priskie goal that sent the game against Northeastern to overtime as the Bobcats won 3-2.
Smith now has 39 goals and 62 assists in his career.
NTDP sees both ends of ECAC spectrum
The USA Hockey National Team Development Program’s Under-18 Team made the trek to Northern New England to serve as the final tuneup game for Dartmouth and Harvard before its regular season gets underway this weekend.
Up in Hanover, N.H., the nation’s top 17-year-olds defeated the Big Green 3-0 on Friday night.
Dartmouth was ranked ninth in both the coaches and media preseason conference polls.
On Saturday night against the current No. 3 team in the nation, it was a much different story for the future college stars. The Crimson defeated the U18 team 7-2 behind Ryan Donato’s hat trick. Future Crimson player Oliver Wahlstrom had two assists in the game and three on the weekend.