Dutchmen jump on New Hampshire early to earn home win


SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Union College men’s hockey team improved to 6-1-0 on home ice this season as they topped the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, 4-3,  from Messa Rink on Friday afternoon. First-year John Prokop scored his first collegiate goal that turned out to be the game-winning goal on the power-play.

Four different Union skaters found the back of the net and eight skaters all registered a point. In addition to Prokop, seniors Owen Farris and Chris Theodore and sophomore Josh Nixon all scored for Union. First-year Cal Mell tallied two assists, while juniors Tyler Watkins and Caden Villegas and first-year Nate Hanley each chipped in with assists as well.

Union found the back of the net just over four minutes into the contest. Union won an opening face-off cleanly to Mell, who flipped a clear attempt off the glass into the UNH defensive zone. As the Wildcats struggled to settle the puck, Nixon scooped up the bouncing puck and centered a pass to Farris, who buried the chance from the slot. The Dutchmen jumped put to a 1-0 lead on Farris’s third goal of the season and took that lead into the first intermission despite being outshot 15-5.

Union extended its lead early in the second frame with two goals in 90 seconds. Hanley blocked a shot in the slot and his block found the tape of Villegas, who sent a lead pass up to Theodore, who carried the puck into the zone before dropping a pass to Hanley. Hanley returned the favor to Theodore behind the Wildcat defense and the senior buried the pass into the goal for his second goal of the season. Union added to their lead just 90 seconds later thanks to a great individual effort by Nixon. He deflected a point-to-point pass and found himself with a breakaway, and his shot snuck through the blocker and leg of David Fessenden and across the line for a 3-0 lead for Union.

The tide turned quickly later in the frame, however, as three Union penalties resulted in three UNH power-play goals. The Wildcats evened the score with three power-play goals in a 5:31 span, getting two goals and an assist from Colton Huard to suddenly even the score heading into the third period. With the score all even at three heading to the third period, the Dutchmen drew a holding penalty just 3:44 into the final stanza. That was the only opportunity the Dutchmen needed to regain the lead. Watkins fired a shot from the point that was saved, and Mell settled the puck and delivered a pass back to Prokop at the point. The first-year wristed a shot through a screen from the point that found the back of the net on the man advantage for Prokop’s first collegiate goal and the eventual game-winner for Union.

Senior goaltender Connor Murphy made 33 saves in the win as he earned his seventh victory of the season. The Dutchmen went 1-4 on the penalty kill and 1-2 on the power play. Hanley was a perfect 6-6 from the face off circle, while Farris went 11-16 from the dot. Union (7-10-1) will wrap up 2022 and the weekend series with UNH tomorrow at 4 p.m. from Messa Rink.

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