Union hockey takes Game 1 over Cornell

Ithaca

If there is such a thing as pressure in college hockey, who has it now?

It depends on who you talked to after Game 1 of the best-of-three ECAC playoff series between Union and Cornell. When it was over, it was quiet in Lynah Rink, which had been home to 3,892 screaming Cornell fans for 2 hours, 33 minutes Friday night.

The only hooting and hollering you could hear was coming out of the Union locker room. The Dutchmen silenced Lynah Rink with a 3-2 win. It’s Union and not Cornell that has the upper hand in this short series.

“That’s a good question,” sophomore goalie Darion Hanson said outside the Union locker room when asked about the pressure thing. “It can go both ways. We just want to win two games.”

“I knew we had the hardest matchup of anyone in the country in the quarterfinals,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “No one has this kind of matchup.”

Union (20-11-6), the seventh seed in the tournament, is one win away from getting one of the four spots in the league’s semifinals next weekend in Lake Placid. Cornell (17-9-4), the second seed, has to win Saturday night’s Game 2 to force a Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. All games are being played on the Big Red’s home ice.

“They are playing for their season,” said Union senior forward Brett Supinski. “They are going to bring everything they’ve got (Saturday).”

Union coach Rick Bennett said the Dutchmen stole this game. He thought they played better here on Feb. 23 when the Dutchmen lost 3-1.

“I don’t think we are in the driver’s seat whatsoever,” he said. “We can’t look at it as being up 1-0. We can be much better.”

Supinski was the last of several heroes on this night for Union. His goal with 4:33 left in the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and gave Union the victory. His shot from the top of the right circle got an assist from teammate Anthony Rinaldi, who planted himself in front of Cornell goalie Matthew Galajda and provided the perfect screen.

Galajda waved his glove hand at nothing but air. He never saw the puck.

Schafer said after looking at the film, the puck bounced off the shin pad of his forward Morgan Barron and was redirected into the net. Union didn’t much care.

“I saw a lot of bodies (in front of the goal) and just tried to put it on net,” said Supinski, who got his ninth goal of the season.

All three goals for Union were scored by seniors. Cole Maier tied the game at 2 when he completed a two-on-one, taking a pass from Vas Kolias at 10:40 of the third. Sebastian Vidmar got Union’s first goal, and the first of the game, at 9:37 of the second period.

“You need seniors to step forward,” Schafer said. “(Union’s) did and ours did not.”

Hanson proved to be a rock in the Union goal, especially in the first period when the play was in front of him for just about all of the opening 20 minutes. Cornell outshot the Dutchmen 12-4 but the period ended with the game scoreless.

“Darion gave us life,” Bennett said.  “I loved his first period and he played a solid game after that.”

Hanson stopped 32 of the 34 shots he saw. The Big Red outshot Union, 34-19.

Union had one goal taken off the board when Liam Morgan appeared to beat Galajda with 4:11 left in the second period. After the referees reviewed the film (they did it on the first two goals of the night, too, letting them stand), the goal was taken away because they deemed Maier was in the goalie’s crease and caused interference.

Then, with 1:02 left in the second, the Big Red took a 2-1 lead on Kyle Betts’ first goal of the season.

twilkin@timesunion.com • 518-454-5415 • @tjwilkin