Frozen Four 2014: Getting to Know Union

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The Union Flying Dutchmen make their second Frozen Four appearance in three years.

The Union Dutchmen are well on their way to becoming a post-season fixture in the college hockey world. This is their fourth-straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, and their second trip to the Frozen Four. While they may not be the most recognizable name in the tournament, they’ve been here before.

The Dutchmen’s stat lines look exactly like you would expect for a Frozen Four team: 3.7 GPG (2nd in the nation) and 2.07 GAA (4th). Those stats also explain why Union is the #1 rated team in KRACH after they won the East regional. They powered through Vermont in the opening round of the tournament, and then proceeded to handle the Providence Friars from wire to wire. Union was the #1 seed in that regional, but neither opponent managed to even threaten to steal a victory.

The team numbers are impressive, but they were earned against the easiest schedule of any of the four remaining teams. The ECAC is not exactly the AHA, but it’s not hockey royalty either. Sure, reigning national champion Yale resides in the conference, but nothing remains of that championship other than some flash residue in the NCAA tournament’s pan. Quinnipiac and Colgate are also conference foes, but the bottom half of the conference is much less impressive.

Despite a decent number games against quality teams in the conference, the only quality non-conference opponent the Dutchmen saw in the regular season was St. Cloud State. To their credit, the Dutchmen went into JBSU and took a win and a tie home with them. I believe it’s the series that led me change the JBSU mascot from the "Huskies" to the "Paper Tigers."

Back to Union: their very impressive defense is back-stopped by junior net minder Collin Stevens, who’s record is a ridiculous 26-4-2. His personal GAA is sub 2.0, and he stops over 93% of the shots that he sees. He might be the best goaltender that western college hockey fans have never heard of.

As stated above, Union is an NCAA veteran team, and they’re led on the scoring side by veteran players. Three of the four top scorers are seniors, and only one underclassmen (freshman Mike Vecchione) is in the top seven in scoring.

The greatest scoring threat is senior Daniel Carr, who averages nearly 1.3 points per game. He’s the only player on the roster with more than twenty goals. Junior Daniel Ciampini is second on the team in scoring, with nineteen goals and seventeen assists. The Dutchmen have five players with more than thirty points, including Vecchione.

On the blue line, Union is a bit younger. Mat Bodie is the only senior defender, and three freshmen have seen significant playing time. Juniors Shayne Gostisbehere and Charlie Vasaturo have both appeared in forty games this season. Bodie and Gostisbehere account for the lion’s share of the defenses-offensive production, combining for more than seventy points.

Union is a team that does everything right: they play very efficient defense in front of a very good goaltender. They possess the puck well (roughly 55% possession [best guess]). They also score a lot of goals. They are a tough matchup for any team.

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