NCAA HOCKEY: Tiny Union wins national title
PHILADELPHIA — Union College won its first NCAA hockey title Saturday night, scoring three times in a 1:54 span in the first period in a 7-4 victory over Minnesota.
Mike Vecchione tied it at 2 with 4:01 left in the first, Eli Lichtenwald gave the Dutchman the lead 57 seconds later, and Daniel Ciampini capped the spree with 2:57 to go.
“I don’t think anyone will call us Cinderella anymore,” said Shayne Gostisbehere, who had a goal and two assists. “These guys, my brothers, they do everything for me. I don’t care about anything else; we’re national champions.”
Max Novak, Kevin Sullivan and Mat Bodie also scored and Colin Stevens made 36 saves for Union (32-6-4), the 2,200-student liberal arts college in Schenectady, N.Y., that competes in Division III in all other sports.
“A little bit speechless right now,” third-year coach Rick Bennett said. “Just happy for our school, for this program and the past players. It’s an unbelievable experience.”
Justin Kloos, Sam Warning, Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching scored for Minnesota (28-7-6). Adam Wilcox stopped 41 shots for the five-time champion Gophers.
Cammarata pulled Minnesota within one with the lone goal in the second period, but Novak restored the two-goal cushion on a deflection at 5:31 of the third.
Fasching cut it to 5-4 with a power-play goal with 3:40 left. Sullivan put it away with 1:22 to go, and Bodie scored into an empty net with 44.2 seconds remaining.
“Just one shift at a time,” Bodie said. “This is 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.”
Kloos opened the scoring on a rebound 2:37 into the first period. Gostisbehere responded for Union by weaving through three opponents and beating Wilcox with a wrist shot to glove side at 9:26. Less than a minute later, Warning squeaked a bad-angle shot between Stevens and the pipe to put Minnesota up 2-1.
Union won its final 12 games and went 16-0-1 in its last 17. The Dutchmen have competed in Division I since 1991-92.
Minnesota lost for the seventh time in the title game. Minnesota was making its first appearance in the title game since winning its second straight title in 2003.