NEW HAVEN, CONN. – After a loss to Clarkson to open last weekend, improved net-front play helped Union to a win over St. Lawrence last Saturday.
The Dutchmen weren’t perfect in front of their net Friday against Yale, but they did just enough to emerge with a 3-2 win before a packed crowd at Ingalls Rink on Friday.
Freshmen Darion Hanson made 29 saves, while classmate Liam Morgan’s first collegiate goal midway through the third period was the game winner for Union. Ryan Scarfo had a goal and an assist for the Dutchmen (13-12-1, 9-4)
The go-ahead goal was set up by Cole Maier, who knocked the puck loose from Yale goalie Sam Tucker (31 saves) in the crease. Morgan was then able to grab the puck amidst a scramble of players and put it in the net.
“We’ve been battling hard down low; it’s been our focal point in practice,” Morgan said.
That paid off again in the closing seconds, as the Dutchmen’s ability to win battles around their net in the closing seconds sealed the win.
“There seemed to be a lot of pack of wolf moments,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “I think we were just fortunate enough to win the last ones. We did a good job at the end to battle around their net and preserve the win.”
However, Yale was able to keep the Dutchmen off balance all night, as the Bulldogs had three breakaways, including a shorthanded goal by Luke Stevens that tied the game at two midway through the second period.
The Yale sophomore blocked a shot just inside the Union blue line, and then skated in alone before beating Hanson at 10:30.
It was the first shorthanded goal that Union had allowed this season, but the fourth scored by the Bulldogs, who rank among that national leaders in that category.
Joe Snively and Ted Hart also had breakaway attempts for the Bulldogs in the second period, but were denied by Hanson.
“Yale is going to put you in spots that you don’t want to be,” Bennett said, jokingly adding that the Dutchmen were looking to get Hanson some shootout practice. “Especially with their feet and the way that the play in the transition game. If you don’t have it that night, it’s going to be a long one.”
Hanson also came up big with Yale on the power play. With Union up 3-2 late in the third, the freshmen reached out to knock away the puck as it slid across the crease to a wide-open Bulldogs skater on the opposite post. He then made a nice save on Yale’s Kevin O’Neill later in the period before standing strong in the waning seconds of the game.
“I just try to block out as much of the noise and focus on what I have to do,” Hanson said. “That was a little nerve-wracking (at the end); I won’t lie. It’s kind of a thing you learn after playing so much hockey and its just second nature.”
Union took an early 1-0 lead on Ryan Scarfo’s goal 6:35 into the first, but the Bulldogs tied it on Ryan Hitchcock’s goal later in the period.
The senior captain stole the puck from a Dutchmen skater in the left circle and snapped a shot that appeared to hit off Hanson before settling into the net at 15:27. The play was initially ruled no goal, but changed after a short review by the officials.
“It was nice to get a couple of touches out of the way,” Hanson said. “Even though that [first goal] from behind the goal line kind of sucked, it got me into it and I felt comfortable and just rode it from there.”
Sebastian Vidmar’s power-play goal gave Union a 2-1 lead at 2:07 in the second before Stevens tied it later in the period.
The loss snapped a four-game unbeaten streak for the Bulldogs (8-9-1, 5-7-1), who finished 0-for-4 on the power play and are now 5-for-69 on the year.
Yale hosts Rensselaer Saturday while Union travels to Brown. Both games start at 7 p.m.