SCHENECTADY, N.Y.— Union College men’s hockey senior forward Mike Vecchione scored on a penalty shot 2:46 into overtime to cap a dramatic come-from-behind 4-3 win against Princeton and sending the sixth-ranked Dutchmen (25-8-3) to the ECAC Hockey semifinals, Saturday night at Messa Rink.
Brett Supinski looked to have scored the winning goal on a rebound after Vecchione was brought down from behind on a breakaway, but it was called back for goaltender interference. Vecchione was awarded a penalty shot on the play, and the captain made no mistake, going backhand to forehand before sliding a shot past the outstretched leg of Tigers (15-16-3) goaltender Colton Phinney (34 saves), giving Union the 4-3 win and the series sweep. The goal was Vecchion’s 29th of the season and extended his point streak to 10 games (10G-8A).
Spencer Foo produced his 18th multi-point game with a goal and an assist, pushing his point streak to seven games (7G-6A). Cole Maier netted his second goal in as many nights and Nick DeSimone also scored for Union, while Sebastian Vidmar notched a point for the ninth straight game with an assist. Senior goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos made 39 saves to improve to 22-4-2. The win was the 40th of his career, placing him third in program history.
Union opened a 2-0 lead in the first period with two goals in 92 seconds. DeSimone put the Dutchmen in front at 10:28, speeding around two Princeton defensemen before sliding a shot between Colton Phinney’s pads.
Maier tallied his 14th of the year 1:32 later, tucking home a rebound at the doorstep after Foo’s initial shot was stopped. The assist was Foo’s 35th of the season, setting a new program record.
The Tigers chipped away at the lead in the second period, cutting their deficit to one at 12:08 when David Hallisey scored on the power play. Jackson Cressey dug the puck off of the boards and found Hallisey alone in the slot, who blasted a one-timer past Sakellaropoulos high on blocker side.
Princeton continued to build on the momentum, scoring two goals in the third period to take a 3-2 lead. Ryan Kuffner potted the Tigers second power-play goal of the game at 15:22, pouncing on a loose puck near the right post, and Alex Riche gave the Tigers their first lead of the series at 18:50, scoring on a goal-mouth scramble.
Foo provided the response for the Dutchmen in the dying moments, tying the game at 19:39 with his 24thof the season. Jeff Taylor flipped a pass off the boards and into the Princeton zone. Vidmar beat his defenseman and carried the puck in on goal before sliding a backdoor pass to Foo for the tap in, tying the game at 3-3.
In the extra frame, DeSimone sprung Vecchione on a breakaway with a perfectly-threaded lead pass. Vecchione managed to get a shot off while being hauled to the ice, crashing into Phinney in the process. Supinski cleaned up the rebound, but the goal was called back and a penalty shot was awarded, setting up Vecchione’s heroics.
Union, which extended its unbeaten streak to a season-best seven games (6-0-1), will play in the ECAC Hockey semifinals Friday, March 17in Lake Placid, N.Y. The Dutchmen’s opponent is dependent on the results of the Cornell-Clarkson and St. Lawrence-Quinnipiac series, which will be decided with a game three on Sunday.
ECAC HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS
A limited number of ECAC Hockey Championship all-tournament passes will be available for purchase by calling the Union College ticket office at 518-388-6020. For single day tickets, order by calling the Lake Placid box office at 518-523-3330.