And then there were two…
Rensselaer has out-lived cross-Capital rival Union, as the Engineers hope to give North Dakota their best shot later this afternoon. Nothing new on that front, but here’s hoping RPI can give the powerhouse Sioux a run for their money.
Union falls to Minnesota-Duluth
The Dutchmen did almost everything but bury the puck against the Bulldogs Friday evening. Union generated shots, carried play most of the night, and earned nine – nine – power plays. For the most productive power-play corps in the country, that should’ve been good for three goals right there.
But the Bulldogs denied the Dutchmen at each and every turn. UMD clogged the defensive dirty areas, by and large barring Union from point-blank opportunities. Goaltender Kenny Reiter was everything he needed to be between the pipes, coming up with a handful of big stops, especially early in the game when Union earned its first few power plays.
Union has come a long way, but the returning players now realize that finishing first in ECAC Hockey is only the first step in the long climb up the national mountain.
Congratulations to Union on the best season in Union’s D-I history, and good luck down the line, seniors.
Yale survives Air Force
It wasn’t pretty and it probably won’t win points from the peanut gallery, but the Blue pulled it off against the feisty Falcons. Yale had plenty of chances early on, but as the Academy’s high-altitude conditioning began to show through midway through the contest, the Bulldogs had to buckle down and play survival hockey.
They proved that they can adapt, defend, and win a gut-check game when junior Chad Ziegler’s full-body lunge at his own rebound trickled by AFA goaltender Jason Torf 3:16 into overtime.
It was a major test for Yale, but it was also a very effective matchup for Air Force. The Falcons counter-punched each big Bulldogs swing, and the quick tempo – usually a massive benefit to Yale’s style of play – may have actually worked against the Blue a bit, as the Falcons ducked each big roundhouse thrown by the hosts and jabbed right back with quality opportunities of their own. It will be interesting to see if Minnesota Duluth (or any future Yale opponents) will be able to execute such a game plan with anywhere near the same kind of success that the Academy did.
On the board
Up today: RPI vs. North Dakota, 1:30 EDT at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis. (ESPN)
Yale vs. Minnesota Duluth, 6:30 EDT at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. (ESPNU)