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Union Men’s Hockey Advances To NCAA East Regional Final

Jeremy Welsh
Courtesy Union College Athletics

No. 3/3 Union men’s hockey (25-7-7) received goals by freshman forward Max Novak, junior forward Jeremy Welsh and junior forward Wayne Simpson to earn a 3-1 victory over No. 15/15 Michigan State (19-16-4) in the NCAA DIvision I Men’s Ice Hockey East Regionals at Webster Bank Arena Friday afternoon.

The Dutchmen, the top seed in this regional, will play in the NCAA Regional Final for the first time. Union faces UMass Lowell on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. for the regional title and berth in the Frozen Four.

At 10:52 of the first period, Michigan State’s Dean Chelios was whistled for a five minute penalty for checking from behind at red line boards near the benches. He also received a game misconduct. Union kept it in the zone for the first 30 seconds of the power play and had chances in close from Welsh, Jooris and Zajac.

Daniel Carr took an interference penalty with under a minute to go in the Union power play, creating a four on four. After a blocked shot, the Dutchmen got a 2-on-1 out of their zone. Novak drew the defender looking for a pass and fired a wrist shot from the left circle low and left past Michigan State goaltender Will Yanakeff for a 1-0 lead. The goal, Novak’s ninth of the season, at 15:09 was assisted by Welsh and was the first goal scored by Union in NCAA post season history.

The Spartans threatened at 18:42 with a close drive by Matt Berry and an attempted left tuck in by Lee Reimer at the left post. As the net came off with a whistle, there was an extensive review and it was ruled that the net had dislodged before the puck crossed the line. Shots in the first period were in favor of the Dutchmen, 9-6.

Michigan State had a good early chance at 2:40 of the second period. A drive from Matt Crandell at the left point was stopped and rebound was picked up on the right post by Kevin Walrod, but his shot dribbled right in front of the goal line.

Union came right back and took a 2-0 lead. Mat Bodie’s drive from the right point was stopped by Yanakeff. But the rebound came right out in front to Welsh, who deked right then tucked it in left for his 26th of the season at 3:20.

At 6:40 a drive by junior defenseman Greg Coburn at the right point was stopped and kicked away from Yanakeff. Brett Perlini got a feed and broke in alone inside the right of the blueline, but senior defenseman Nolan Julseth-White made a tremendous play coming back to swipe away the Spartan rush.

Union had a chance with 4:38 left in the second but a Matt Hatch stop directly in front was stuffed by Yanakeff. With 3:42 remaining, Julseth-White’s drive from the left point hit the back boards and came right out in front, but with Yanakeff out of position, Kelly Zajac’s quick bandhander just missed the open net.

Brock Shelgren was called for a Michigan State cross check at 16:24. Then, at 17:32, Union’s Welsh went in the box for a slash. The Dutchmen had a three-on-none but a Julseth-White backhand was stopped, and the Spartans came down the other way for their first goal of the game. Berry scored on a wrist shot for his 11th of the year, and the goal from the right circle cut the lead to 2-1.

Union had a 13-7 shot advantage in the second and for the game, a total of 23-13.

Just 50 seconds into the third, Daniel Carr had a point blank slot shot stopped by Yanakeff and the rebound came out to Welsh on the left, but a check kept his stick from sliding it home into the open left side.

The Spartans kept it in the Union zone with pressure in the early minutes of the third. At 5:08 Lee Reimer’s shot from the left circle was stopped by Grosenick. Midway through the period, the Dutchmen had pressure and a Coburn drive from the point just went wide followed by a stop from Yanakeff.

Michigan State’s Greg Wolfe tried a wrap around at 10:18 but Grosenick was there on the right post. The Spartans’ Berry had an opening on the left circle but his wrister went high and wide. The Spartans looked for the equalizer in the final minutes with pressure, capped off by a blast in the slot from Lee Reimer and a huge save from Grosenick.

Then, Union was put on the power play with just 1:34 remaining in regulation. Wolfe was whistled for hooking at 18:26.

Union wrapped it up on a two-on-one converted at 18:42 on the power play. Wayne Simpson scored from the right circle with the pass from Zajac, Simpson’s 18th of the season. On the play, Shelgren was called for hitting after the whistle after sending Kyle Bodie into the boards behind the net.

The Spartans pulled the goalie in the final seconds but did not threaten.

Grosenick made 20 saves while Yankaeff stopped 29. Union outshot the Spartans, 32-21 for the night.

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