As a veteran of 19 seasons at Colgate, coach Don Vaughan has seen plenty of ECAC Hockey games over the years.
So when he calls this season’s Union team one of the league’s most complete teams in recent history, as he did earlier this week, you tend to sit up and listen.
Unfortunately for Vaughan and the Raiders, Union’s complete skill set was on display Friday in the opening game of the ECAC semifinals at Boardwalk Hall. The Dutchmen scored a goal each on the power play and while short-handed, and their aggressive forecheck pinned the Raiders deep in their own end, leading to a rash of turnovers in a 6-2 Union victory.
“They’re extremely well-coached and at the end of the night when you put that talent together with how technically sound they are, you get a team like that Union team,” Vaughan said.
“From a coaching perspective, I enjoy watching it. I didn’t enjoy watching them from the bench, but I enjoy watching them on tape.”
Trio produces for Union
Union’s second line of Daniel Carr, Jeremy Welsh and Josh Jooris was particularly strong, factoring in four of Union’s goals and overshadowing Colgate’s top line of Joe Wilson, Chris Wagner and the nation’s leading scorer, Austin Smith.
“They played really hard; they executed what they had to do,” Union coach Rick Bennett said of his most productive line.
Welsh scored his 24th goal of the season at 7:19 in the third, breaking the school’s single-season record set by Mario Valery-Trabucco in 2009.
“I roomed with him freshman year and I was in awe of his shot,” Welsh said. “I think it means a lot more that I played with him and know how good of a player he is.”
But the junior center made his presence felt on the forecheck as well, prying a puck free while on the penalty kill in the Colgate zone to set up Carr for his second goal of the night.
“That was a great play by Jeremy on the forecheck,” Carr said. “He’s been unbelievable all year.”
Grosenick versus Smith
The early game at the Boardwalk featured the league’s two Hobey Baker finalists in Smith and Union goalie Troy Grosenick (28 saves). But while Grosenick will move on, an emotional Smith recognized that Saturday’s consolation game is his last for the Raiders.
“To be quite honest, I’ve never given up in a game before, ever,” Smith said. “I always compete until the end but when it hit 5-1 I was trying to hold tears back. The rest of the game I was just circling and I had a million things going on in my head.”