Union brings home first national title, defeats Minnesota

Union College brings home its first National Title in its 23-year history. (Candice Monhollan)

Union College brings home its first National Title in its 23-year history. (Candice Monhollan)

PHILADELPHIA – It has been 23 years in the making, but now the wait is finally over for Union College as the players were able to lift the coveted NCAA trophy as the last team standing in the Frozen Four Saturday.

Union battled back for the second game in a row, but were able to come out on top of the University of Minnesota with a 7-4 win.

“I’m just extremely excited for our program, our school and for the community,” said head coach Rick Bennett. “For every player that has worn that jersey, for every coach that’s coached here before us, it’s a tremendous accomplishment. I want to thank them. I can’t name them all, but it’s just a surreal moment right now.”

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Shayne Gostisbehere, the only drafted player on Union, took his game to a whole new level.

He scored Union’s first goal of the game and added two assists and was an astounding plus-7 by the end of the night.

“You just never know when a guy is going to come to the forefront in the magnitude of this game,” Bennett said. “[Gostisbehere] really wants to win no matter what. He has that in him.”

It was a game Union wasn’t going to give up on.

Down 2-1 in the first period, three quick goals in the span of 1:54 gave them a lead they didn’t let go of for the rest of the game.

“That’s been a staple of our team all year that we come in waves,” said senior defenseman Mat Bodie. “We really carried the play for a stretch of time there. All three of those goals were pack of wolves goals where guys were on net [with] seconds and third chances.”

Those three goals were the fastest in a championship game since 1977.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, the mistakes made by the team left sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox on his own and he couldn’t bail them out every time.

“It just got away from us,” said freshman forward Justin Kloos. “We hung our goalie out to dry. He’s been our best player all year and for us to put him through that was disappointing. We just made mental mistakes.

“I don’t think you can look at anyone in our locker room and say they weren’t physically trying their hardest, but mentally, we made a few too many mistakes in that segment.”

Minnesota scored a quick goal to start the second from freshman forward Taylor Cammarata, but it would be the only goal of the second.

Penalties derailed any momentum Minnesota may have tried to gain in the third to tied things up, but they didn’t quit playing.

“We took more penalties – it’s just the way the game was called tonight,” said head coach Don Lucia. “Our guys tried. With their effort and how hard they wanted to win. Sometimes you want to win too hard [and] too bad. You wanted to chase rather than just play your position.”

A minute after junior goaltender Colin Stevens made a big pad save on defenseman Mike Reilly’s breakaway, junior forward Max Novak tipped the puck by Wilcox to give Union back its two-goal lead.

A late power-play goal by freshman forward Hudson Fasching tried to instill last-minute life into Minnesota.

“I definitely thought if we got to a 6-on-5 situation, I was confident we could put something in in the last minute,” said junior forward Travis Boyd. “Once again, we made a mistake there [with] a turnover at their blue line.”

That turnover was caused by Gostisbehere’s poke check from his stomach to keep Cammarata from breaking in. It instead, it sent Union down the other way and ended in senior forward Kevin Sullivan’s goal to seal the win.

In a fitting end, Bodie, captain of the team and an outgoing senior, capped it off with an empty-net goal with 44.2 seconds left in the game.

It was finally time for Union to celebrate.

“It’s unbelievable the growth this program has taken over the past probably eight years,” Bodie said. “I’ve only been here for four of them, but those championships are for anyone that’s ever had a hand in Union hockey because we wouldn’t be here without all those players before us.

“We believed we belonged with the big boys and hopefully people start to realize that Union hockey is here for good now.”

NOTES

Gostisbehere was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

All-Tournament Team:

Daniel Ciampini (F – Union), Sam Warning (F – Minnesota), Kyle Rau (F – Minnesota), Shayne Gostisbehere (D – Union), Mat Bodie (D – Union), Colin Stevens (G – Union).

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Categories: College Sports, Frozen Four, Ice Hockey, Sports

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