TAMPA, Fla. — Supporters and skeptics alike look at the Union Dutchmen as a great success … so far. Winning a widely marginalized league and playing largely local opponents will create that perception, it must be said.
Such an image begs the question from all corners: How will Union fare … not if, but when the going really gets tough? The team feels confident that it’s been there before, and knows how to handle adversity.
“I think we go back to the Quinnipiac-Princeton series on the road,” recalled captain Nolan Julseth-White. “I think it was a good learning experience for us, that three-goal lead in the third period against Princeton, especially, tying both games that weekend.”
The games to which Julseth-White refers happened way back in the first days of December. Quinnipiac took a 2-0 lead on the Dutchmen on Friday night, forced Union into 27 minutes in penalties and held on for a 2-2 draw to snap Union’s modest two-game winning streak. Union pounced out to a three-goal lead at the midway point of Saturday’s contest at Princeton, but saw the Tigers strike thrice in the third period to steal a point from the visitors.
Union went 11-2-2 in ECAC play from that point forward, followed by four straight playoff wins and two NCAA victories before arriving in Tampa this week.
“I think we took a lot from that weekend, when it comes down to preparation and the process throughout the game, and I think just from that moment on we built off that,” Julseth-White said. “We didn’t sulk on it too much, we just learned from it and moved on, and I think that really turned this team in the right direction.”
And what about Union’s other noteworthy hiccup, the two-game sweep at Denver and Colorado College that ended 2011?
“It was kind of a changing point in the season,” sniper Jeremy Welsh said. “We were there, we just didn’t really do the little things to win.
“We knew we could beat them and play with those teams, but we didn’t execute the little things. So from then on we kind of figured out that those little things add up. When you’re in those big games against good teams, that’s what matters.”