November 17, 2005
Forming a More Perfect Union

By Joe Gladziszewski

 ECAC Hockey League Notebook

Union coach Nate Leaman said Jonathan Poirier's goal against Princeton last week gave his team a confidence boost.

National TV Schedule

Atlantic Hockey Notebook
CCHA Notebook
CHA Notebook
Hockey East Notebook
WCHA Notebook

It’s not surprising to hear a coach talk about frustration after a poor showing or while mired in a losing streak. That is expected, and that’s why Nate Leaman’s statements in regard to his team’s Oct. 29 win at UMass Lowell are especially noteworthy.

His frustration came from seeing so many things that he liked, all demonstrated in the same game, from his Union Dutchmen. What he liked best is that his team is starting to understand that it can play well against any level of competition.

“They’re learning that. The Lowell game was frustrating as a coach. What I mean by that is the way we played in the Lowell game was everything I envision wanting this program to be,” Leaman said. “We were moving our feet, we were tough to play against, we were finishing hits, we didn’t give up a lot of odd-man rushes and we were creating a lot.”

Last week he saw more of the good Union team than the under-confident and inconsistent Union team. The Dutchmen posted back-to-back wins over Princeton and Union and maintained an undefeated home record at 4-0-1.

Union overcame adversity in Friday’s win. They killed off a 3-on-5 short-handed situation that lasted for 1:27 early in the first period and then got goals from Josh Coyle and Jonathan Poirier to take a 2-0 lead.

“It could’ve been a big confidence thing, especially because we had a rough weekend last week. We’re a young team so our confidence can be shaky at times,” Leaman said. “They came out and killed that and then Josh gets a goal and Poirier gets a goal. Jon Poirier’s goal really helped our confidence on the bench. The guys realized that this team can be a good hockey team.”

In the third period, back-to-back major penalties against Union defensemen for checking-from-behind overlapped to create 2:05 of a two-man advantage and gave Princeton a chance to rally from a two-goal deficit. The Dutchmen killed both without allowing a goal (and their penalty kill had struggled for most of the season) and it provided a good start to the weekend.

Junior defenseman and co-captain Sean Streich led a reduced defense corps through the final 16 minutes of the third period and has been leading the team in the dressing room. That dynamic can’t be underestimated since leadership and a team-first attitude have been missing in some recent seasons. The key to the locker-room unity is a belief in what the coaching staff says.

“I think this is the best we’ve seen. We have a lot of freshmen and they’re listening to us older guys and the older guys are starting to lead by example,” Streich said. “The bottom line is that we’re all trying to get on coach’s page, listen to him, listen to the game plan and follow them because they know how to win and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

They’ve seen the positive results on the ice, as was the case last weekend. And they’ve seen what can happen when individuals don’t but into the team concept in the form of one-sided losses against Colorado College, Air Force, and St. Lawrence. Leaman knows and accepts the challenge that he faces.

“As a young coach, coaching a young team, it’s positive that you start to see the team the way you envision it,” he said, “but it’s a matter of getting it there consistently.”


Moving forward – Seeing Princeton play is a bit metaphorical. When they’re on the ice, Tiger players are always looking to move the puck forward. If a Princeton defenseman corrals a dump-in along the boards, rarely will he loop back behind the net to set up a breakout. The immediate reaction is to head man the puck and get it to a forward in the neutral zone with speed. The Tigers play the game in straight lines. It’s a north-south style of play that was introduced by coach Guy Gadowsky last season and Princeton’s system is fun to watch.

The same can be said for how Gadowsky sees the Tiger program evolving. He wants it to move forward, and signs of progress are evident.

“It’s actually very good. We really like the atmosphere and the culture that we’re trying to create in the locker room and I believe very strongly in the guys we have. It’s such an impressive group of guys,” Gadowsky said.

He has a young foundation to work with, as just four of the 18 skaters in last week’s lineups were seniors. Significant contributions have come from younger players, but Gadowsky continues to search for the right combinations. He re-assembled the top line of Darroll Powe, Grant Goeckner-Zoeller, and Patrick Neundorfer for Saturday’s game at Rensselaer.

“We’ve really played some good hockey for being early in the year,” Gadowsky said. “The guys that we have are very hard-working and they stick together.”

Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Union at Cornell (Sat.)
The interest in this game comes from the current state of the teams. Can Union continue its good play at a hostile rink? Will Cornell rebound from a clunker at Dartmouth last weekend? Last year, Union played well in a loss at Lynah. They’re looking to reverse that result this time.

While You’re There: Feeling ambitious? Then start the day at noon in Schenectady, where the undefeated Union football team opens the NCAA Division III playoffs against Cornell's next-door neighbor, Ithaca College. Take time to marvel at the efficiency of a 32-team postseason format spread over four weeks in November and December.

Stick Salute

Well done, Union defense quartet of Sean Streich, Mike Harr, Brendan Milnamow, and Michael Beynon. After your defense corps was reduced to four due to checking-from-behind majors, you kept things simple, reduced shift times, and were a steady presence in defending a lead for the last 15 minutes of last Friday’s win over Princeton.

…and another stick salute to CN8 for the webcast of Tuesday’s Harvard-BC game and bringing college hockey into the office of a Central New Yorker…

Bench Minor

…during which I saw some questionable defense by the Boston College Eagles. All four of Harvard’s goals were scored within a 10-foot radius of the top of the goal crease, and the four goal scorers were hardly even bothered. It’s a basic hockey strategy – cover the guy in front of the net – and one that BC’s players were probably well-schooled on during practice this week.


• After just two full weekends of ECAC Hockey League play when most teams have played only four league contests, not a single team is undefeated in the ECACHL and Yale is the only team not to have earned a win in league play.

• When Dave McKee was pulled from the game 4:09 into the second period of Saturday’s game it was the first time in his Cornell career that he was yanked due to poor performance. He sat out roughly nine minutes in his sophomore year and 13 minutes in his freshman year as backups played a cameo role in Big Red wins.

• It appears that goalie Kevin Ackley is ready to return to the St. Lawrence lineup after injury, but he’s having trouble getting back on the ice due to capable play from Justin Pesony. He’s started nine straight games and has a 7-2-0 record with a 2.56 goals-against average.

• The goaltending situation at Yale is getting a little clearer. All three goalies – Josh Gartner, Matt Modelski, and Alec Richards – have seen significant playing time thus far. Richards, a freshman, got the start on Saturday and played well in a 4-2 loss to Clarkson.

• Colgate, Clarkson, and Harvard rank third, fourth, and fifth in the nation in scoring. All teams are averaging at or over 4.00 goals per game. Colgate is also eighth in scoring defense, allowing just 2.11 goals against per game.

• The Raiders can maintain or extend their lofty national ranking in those categories if they can take advantage of a substantial homestand. They have six straight home games over the next three weeks. Seven of Colgate’s first nine games were played on the road.

• Dartmouth made a statement with a 6-1 win over Cornell. Don’t be fooled by the 0-4-0 start to the Big Green’s season. They are a team to be feared and coaches around the league respect their talent and depth and know that they’ll be among the top teams at the end of the season.

• Quinnipiac headed in the other direction with losses to Rensselaer and Union after winning its first two ECACHL games. The offense might be to blame. They scored twice against RPI and were shutout by Union after entering the weekend averaging 4.4 goals-per-game.

• Brown and Harvard play a Sunday matinee and fans across the nation can see it on ESPNU. Unfortunately, if you hope to pick it up on satellite at a local sports bar, you will probably be vetoed by NFL action.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.