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Following the longest game in college hockey history, the Union Dutchmen were fighting for their season against the Quinnipiac Bobcats. In front of a crowd of 2,014 at Messa Rink, Union bounced back to even the series 1-1 and force a decisive game three.
The previous night, the two teams battled it out through close to five overtimes, raising the question of how tired the players would be coming into the game tonight.
Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold acknowledged as much, saying, “We were exhausted, but both teams were.”
It appeared that Quinnipiac had taken the early lead at 3:44 when Mike Dalhuisen was fed the puck at the point and fired a shot that went into the net. The goal was called back, however, as after video review, it was revealed that the puck had deflected off of Spencer Heichman’s skate.
“When I saw the puck did not go off his stick and saw it behind me, I knew there was something wrong,” said Union goalie Corey Milan.
With new life, the Dutchmen took the lead. Following a tripping penalty on Quinnipiac’s Scott Zurevinski, Union forward Adam Presizniuk scored after Kelly Zajac made a nice play to keep possession of the puck, and then passed it out to Mario Vallery-Trabucco at the blue line. Mario fired it at the net, and Presizniuk directed it in.
“I just sat by the net and got my stick on it,” Presizniuk explained when asked about the first goal.
The goal was important for the Union players, who were demoralized after their loss the previous night.
“I thought with the first five minutes we were a little tentative,” said Union coach Nate Leaman. “We scored soon after and that really helped us.”
The scoring subsided until there were less than three minutes left in the period. Captain Mike Wakita was called for cross-checking, giving Quinnipiac its second power play of the game. It took the Bobcats only a few seconds before assistant captain Brandon Wong wristed a shot in to tie the game.
Union answered a little over a minute later, with Luke Cain scoring a goal at 18:27. The goal was scored after Justin Pallos centered a puck for Cain, who found himself alone in front of the net. Cain fired a shot that whizzed past Quinnipiac goalie Dan Clarke for what would be the game-winning goal.
Adam Presizniuk scored his second goal of the game less than two minutes into the third period. Presizniuk skated past the Bobcats’ defenders to get an open shot on the net that slipped between Clarke’s legs, essentially icing the game for Union.
Quinnipiac had one last opportunity in the period, as Brock Matheson was called for cross-checking with 1:53 left in the game. Shortly after, Quinnipiac pulled its goalie, but even with the six-on-four advantage, it could not get back into the game.
Pecknold gave the Union team credit following the loss stating, “Their season was on the line and they played with more urgency than us.”
With the win, Union forces the series to a game three. For those looking for trends, the previous round of the ECAC playoffs had all the teams that won the first game of the series advance, favoring Quinnipiac. Still Union is 3-1 against Quinnipiac this season and will have home-ice advantage.
When asked about home-ice Leaman said, “I think it could be everything. I think our fans have done a good job picking us up.”
The series continues tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Messa Rink, with the winner of the game advancing to the semifinals of the ECAC hockey tournament.