After losing two straight games, both at Achilles Rink, Union had to wonder if it was starting another February fade like last year.
The Dutchmen emphatically put an end to such thoughts Saturday against Princeton.
Kris Goodjohn had two goals and two assists, and Nathan Gillies added two goals and an assist to lead the Dutchmen to a 6-2 ECAC victory at Achilles.
Despite ending their slump, the Dutchmen (9-7-2 ECAC, 13-13-4 overall) remained in a three-way tie for fourth place, the final spot for a bye in the first round of the playoffs, with Brown and Dartmouth. The latter two both won Saturday.
The Dutchmen can clinch at least a home-ice spot next Friday if they win at Colgate. That means they can finish no worse than eighth, which is the final first-round home playoff spot.
Last season, the Dutchmen went 3-6-1 over their final 10 games, dropping from a possible home-ice spot to out of the playoffs by one point. But consecutive losses to Brown and Yale over the past week did not cause alarm.
“We don’t really talk about that kind of stuff,” said Gillies, who was suspended from the Yale game. “[We] know in our hearts that we’re not going to fade. We’re going to pull through as a team. We don’t need to talk about that kind of stuff. That’s for you guys [the reporters] to talk about.”
Things didn’t start well for the Dutchmen Saturday night. Mike Patton’s power-play goal at 10:20 of the first period gave the Tigers (2-15-1, 3-21-1) a 1-0 lead. But Goodjohn answered 42 seconds later, beating goalie Nate Nomeland from the slot while on his knees.
“They didn’t get down,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “That goes back to leadership. [Friday] night, we were missing that element to our team.”
Union had an extended two-man advantage late in the first and early in the second when Princeton picked up three straight penalties. A few seconds after the second five-on-three expired, Goodjohn scored his second goal of the game 1:55 into the second. That ended an 0-for-15 power-play slump
“It was pretty big,” said Goodjohn, who was ejected late in the game for arguing a penalty against him. “We haven’t been playing as well as we could have on the power play, so it was nice to get one under us.”
Goodjohn made a nice pass to defenseman Matt Vagvolgyi in the slot. Vagvolgyi fired it past Nomeland at 6:58 of the second for his second goal of the year. Both have come against the Tigers.
Gillies made it 4-1 1:07 into the third when he shook off Matt Maglione’s check, drove to the net and beat Nomeland through the pads.
“It was a good drop pass by [Chris] DiStefano,” said Gillies, who added a power-play goal with 59.2 seconds left. “I had a free lane to the net.”
Chris Owen scored a power-play goal at 14:37, but Randy Dagenais responded for Union with a goal 13 seconds later.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.