Union Wins First NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Title
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Union College, a small school near Schenectady, New York with no athletic scholarships and an enrollment of 2,241, defeated the University of Minnesota 7-4 to claim college hockey’s top prize. In front of 18,742 at the Wells Fargo Center, the Dutchmen from the ECAC, claimed the 2014 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The liberal arts college founded in 1795 competes in Division III in all other sports.
In photo: Union College trustees, Stephen J. Ciesinski, Mark Walsh and Frank Messa celebrate the Dutchmen’s first NCAA ice hockey title in Philadelphia.
They had a tough ‘Frozen Four’ route, first besting Boston College 5-4 in their semifinal win. “I don’t think anyone will call us Cinderella anymore….. I don’t care about anything else, we are national champions,” said junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Gostisbehere had a goal and two assists.
Under third-year coach Rick Bennett, Union (32-6-4) got hot at the right time of the season. They won their final 12 games and went 16-0-1 in their last 17. “They came as advertised,” said veteran Minnesota coach, Don Lucia. “We knew it going in, they had offensive punch.” The Gophers from the new Big Ten Conference, have won five national titles previously and most recently in 2003. Minnesota finished the season at 28-6-6. In their exciting semi-final and to get to the title game, they had beaten North Dakota, 2-1, as time expired.
The championship included a six-goal first period in which the Dutchmen scored three times in a span of 1:54 to erase a 2-1 deficit early in the game and own a 4-2 lead after the first 20 minutes. The Gophers got one back in the second period and controlled most of the middle frame as well.
The Dutchmen kept the pressure up in the third period when Max Novak scored to give Union a 5-3 lead, but a power-play goal by Hudson Fasching got Minnesota close with 4:40 to play.
Union responded when Kevin Sullivan took a short pass from Mat Bodie and got it under Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox to make it 6-4. Bodie, the team’s two time captain, got an empty-netter to seal the game with 44 seconds remaining. “Just one shift at a time,” Bodie said post-game. “This (was) the biggest game of our lives, hands down, but you’ve got to treat it like any other game. It was tough, I had people texting me, people calling me and stuff, and, you know, it was real tough to keep that mindset, but with our sport psychologist we were able to get that done.”
Eight Gopher penalties (Union committed five) kept unwanted pressure on Wilcox. Although Union didn’t score a power-play goal, penalty killing diverted time from utilizing the offensive speed of Minnesota. For the winners, Colin Stevens made 36 saves on the night.
Bennett was announced as the Spencer Penrose Award winner (NCAA Division-I, Coach of the Year). The 2015 ‘Frozen Four’ will be played at TD Garden in Boston.
Osiecki Named as U.S. Junior National Team Head Coach
Mark Osiecki helped win three World Junior Championship medals as an assistant coach. For 2015 he looks to add number four but this time as head coach. USA Hockey recently named him to the post. “I’m thrilled to accept the role of head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team,” said Osiecki. His most recent head coaching position was at Ohio State for three seasons.
New Jersey Native Son Wins Hobey Baker Award
The 2014 Hobey Baker award winner was announced here at the Frozen Four festivities at the Loews Hotel. Johnny Gaudreau finished his Boston College junior season culminating with college hockey’s highest individual honor. Gaudreau became the third Eagle in program history to win the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. The Hobey Baker award is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding Division-I men’s college hockey player. Greg Carey of St. Lawrence University and Nic Dowd of St. Cloud State were runners-up.
Gaudreau, the high scoring forward, from Carneys Point, New Jersey led the nation in scoring. The 5-foot-7, 150-pounder had 36 goals and 44 assists. He’s the first player to reach 80 points since Colorado College’s Peter Sejna had 82 in 2002-03.
The Hockey East scoring champion was named the conference Player of the Year. A communications major, he was also awarded the Walter Brown Award as the best American born player in New England. At the NCAA Northeast Regional, he scored 3 goals and 3 assists in the Eagles 6-2 win over Denver, and added 2 more assists on the first two goals of the 4-3 win over Lowell in the regional final.
Upon receiving the Hobey Baker award, both Gaudreau and teammate Bill Arnold signed contracts with the Calgary Flames.
The award is named after the legendary Hobey Baker who excelled at Princeton and was killed during World War I on December 21, 1918. He was commander of the 141st Aero Squadron in France and perished in an aviation accident. Baker was known for his extraordinary ice hockey and collegiate football skills and his outstanding sportsmanship.
By Raymond Rolak
Editor’s Note: Raymond Rolak narrated the 1987 award winning documentary, “King of Hockey” the story of North Dakota’s Tony Hrkac and his journey of being presented the 1987 Hobey Baker Award.