Union Soldiers On Through Adversity
Hockey League Notebook
Mayotte has the ECACHL's third-best save percentage
at .913 and first in league games at .928.
(Photo by Bob Ewell)
An aggregate 15-3 loss to Colorado College
and Air Force started the season, and Air Force did most
of the damage. News of losing the team’s leading scorer
for the second half of the season was quickly followed by
an 8-0 drubbing by Minnesota.
Reasons to worry? Hardly. In fact, the Union
Dutchmen are using obstacles such as those mentioned above
as the basis for their season. Setbacks have revealed Union’s
character. Third-year coach Nate Leaman has seen his team
crumble in the face of adversity in the past. It’s
a different story this year.
“We haven’t gotten too high or
too low this year. In recent years we have struggled in
January because we’ve gotten too low,” Leaman
said. “For the first time in three years this team
knows its identity and what we have to do to be successful.”
The Dutchmen have shown grit and a tough skin
so far this season. Any negative thoughts from the Colorado
trip to start the season were erased by a four-game unbeaten
streak that included a win at UMass Lowell.
Sophomore Josh Coyle led the team in scoring
with 18 points through 17 games, but was ruled academically
ineligible by the school. The blowout loss at Minnesota
followed but once again Union responded with a four-game
unbeaten streak. This one included ties against Harvard
and Dartmouth and an impressive 5-0 win over Clarkson last
The win over Clarkson was shown on local television
and Messa Rink was packed. It didn’t erase the back-to-back
playoff defeats that Union suffered at home to Clarkson
in the last two years, but it did prove that the Dutchmen
can line up and beat one of the best teams in the ECACHL
and the nation.
“Our Clarkson games have been very emotional,”
Leaman said. “A lot of that is due to the playoff
series, but also having the game on TV, and the rink was
sold out, it was emotional.”
Senior goaltender Kris Mayotte has been backstopping
Union’s fine season. He was the starting goalie for
his first two seasons but shared time with Justin Mrazek
last year. Mrazek struggled early this season and Mayotte
re-assumed his position as the clear-cut number one between
Friday’s shutout of Clarkson was Mayotte’s
fifth this season and set a Union single-season record.
After the game, Leaman told the television audience that
Mayotte was the best goalie in the league and possibly the
best in the nation. He didn’t back down from that,
even when reminded of Cornell’s Dave McKee also toiling
in the nets in the ECAC Hockey League.
“He’s the best goaltender in the
league,” Leaman said of Mayotte. “He leads the
league in save percentage and is in the top four in goals-against
average (in league games) and when he’s on he’s
the best goaltender in the league. I don’t want to
put down McKee because he’s a Hobey Baker finalist,
but Mayo keeps us in every game and gives us a chance to
win every night.”
While goaltending and a tough attitude have
been the positives for the Dutchmen, they have struggled
to score goals at times. The power play has been particularly
woeful, converting at just 13.8 percent on the year, and
cashing in just two PPGs in their last 37 opportunities.
Inexperience and Coyle’s absence are partly to blame,
but an improved work ethic can go a long way toward improving
the scoring output.
“We need a better work ethic on the
power play and that is something you can coach,” Leaman
said. “Some of it is probably due to us having three
freshmen out of four players running the power play between
the two units. We have to keep giving them experience.”
The good times for the Dutchmen came to a
brief halt last Saturday when St. Lawrence went into Messa
Rink and won 3-0, snapping Union’s unbeaten home record
that stood at 7-0-4 through 11 games. But ECACHL opponents,
including Yale and Brown this weekend, should be aware.
Union has played its best hockey when times were tough.
AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
9,996 Men Needed –
They were just four, not 10,000 as the Harvard fight song’s
title implies – but this week’s American Hockey
League home-and-home series between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Penguins and Syracuse Crunch was strongly shaded in Crimson.
The Penguins are the best team in the AHL
and two rookie defensemen have helped them to a 31-5-3-1
record through the first 40 games. Ryan Lannon and Noah
Welch are part of a young but capable defense corps that
is the backbone of the AHL’s best penalty-killing
unit. Individually, Lannon ranks in the top five in the
league in plus/minus at plus-19. Welch has 12 points, rates
as a plus-14 and was recently named a starter for the PlanetUSA
team at the AHL All-Star Classic which will be held Feb.
1 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Great Weekend Getaway
Lawrence at Cornell (Fri.)
Clarkson at Cornell (Sat.) After the North Country schools visited the
Capital Region last weekend, they’re back on
the bus to head to the Finger Lakes this weekend.
Friday’s matchup between first-place St. Lawrence
and defending champs Cornell highlights the slate
of games. Clarkson stumbled last weekend against Union
and RPI but always plays Cornell tough, and two recent
playoff series in Ithaca have been hotly-contested.
While You’re There: INCH will
always recommend The Nines for some pre-game pizza
when we’re on the way to Lynah. Just be sure
to get there early enough to leave some wiggle room
on the wrist watch if the service is, shall we say,
lethargic. You don’t want to risk the wrath
of the Lynah Faithful for showing up late for the
Clarkson find itself in the stick salute when they
were swept in two ECACHL games last week? Aggressive
coaching! The Golden Knights were on the
power play with just over six minutes remaining in
the third period last Friday, and trailed 3-0 at Union.
George Roll pulled goaltender David Leggio to give
his team a 6-on-4 advantage. The Dutchmen were able
to score the empty-net goal with 5:03 remaining. It
is a rare sight, and I would argue one that we don’t
us, Quinnipiac. Wins over Harvard
and Dartmouth in your ECACHL debut weekend were impressive
and capped an eight-game winning streak. Two wins
and 11 losses in 13 games since the impressive start
have positioned the Bobcats in 11th place in the league
Syracuse’s roster features ex-Harvard
men Tyler Kolarik and Brett Nowak. Kolarik continues to
be an aggressive forechecker and tenacious penalty killer
at the pro level. His fiery attitude has resulted in a pair
of suspensions so far this season. The most recent was a
one-game timeout that was served on Wednesday. In 32 AHL
games, Kolarik has two goals and three assists. Nowak didn’t
play in the two games this week and has been out of the
lineup due to injury since Dec. 27. Nowak has 10 points
in 22 AHL games this year.
Even mired in the professional schedule, players
always make time to check in on what’s happening back
“I talk to guys all the time and talk
to coach probably once a week," said Welch, the Crimson
captain last season. "Things are going well. They lost
a pretty big class back there but guys are stepping up and
they’re having a pretty good season right now.”
The I-81 rivals meet three more times this
season and possibly again in the Calder Cup playoffs. The
Crunch stand third in their division with 23-15-2-1 record
and have high hopes for the playoffs, but a postseason meeting
is only possible if the men of Harvard hold sway.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• In this very spot last week, we mentioned
Princeton’s scoring woes with just four goals in three
games. The Tigers broke through last week and scored eight
times and recorded an impressive sweep of Colgate and Cornell
at Baker Rink. It was Princeton’s first league weekend
sweep since the final weekend of the 2001-02 season. Grant
Goeckner-Zoeller scored three of the eight Princeton goals
on the weekend.
• Colgate’s win over Quinnipiac
snapped a six-game winless streak (0-4-2). Both Raiders
home games this weekend can be seen throughout central and
Northern New York on Time-Warner Sports channel 26. Clarkson
visits Friday and St. Lawrence visits Saturday. The games
begin at 7 p.m.
• Brown turned its winless streak (11
games) into an unbeaten streak with a win and two ties in
its last three outings.
• Dartmouth and New Hampshire staged
another classic on Saturday and it seems that the Riverstone
Cup game in Manchester should be a hotter ticket than the
Beanpot games in Boston. After last year’s 9-8 Dartmouth
win, this season’s tussle between the Big Green and
in-state rival UNH featured two goals and a missed penalty
shot in the final minute. UNH won 5-4.
• Cornell’s shutout of Quinnipiac
was Dave McKee’s 17th career shutout.
• RPI earned a big win over rival Clarkson
and scored all four of its goals in the second period. Some
unfamiliar names did the damage as Keith McWilliams, Dan
Peace, Kurt Colling and Reed Kipp lit the lamp. Captains
Kevin Croxton and Brad Farynuk didn’t play due to
• Yale’s 3-3 tie versus Brown
ended the 11-game point streak of Yale sophomore forward
Jean-Francois Boucher. Boucher shares the team’s point
lead with senior Jeff Hristovski (17 points).
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.