The classic Cinderella — a tiny liberal arts school in Schenectady, N.Y., enrollment 2,200 — won its first NCAA championship more than 20 years after its first season in Division I men’s hockey.
The Dutchmen beat Minnesota 7-4 in the sports moment judged the greatest in school history. And they did it with a flurry, scoring three goals in a span of 1:54 in the first period to take a commanding 4-2 lead.
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead and Union’s Shayne Gostisbehere tied the game. The Gophers regained the lead, 2-1, and that’s when Union took over.
Mike Vecchione tied it at 2 with 4:01 remaining in the first period. Eli Lichtenwald gave the Dutchmen the lead 57 seconds later and Daniel Ciampini capped the spree with 2:57 to go.
It was the fastest three goals scored in a row in the championship since 1977, when Michigan and Wisconsin combined to score three goals in 1:04.
The Dutchmen also matched the mark of three goals by one team set by Colorado College in the third period of the 1957 title game. (CC set the record with three consecutive goals in 1:45 during the third period of the 1950 championship.)
The six combined goals were the most in the first period of a championship since 1963, when North Dakota (5) and Denver (2) totaled a record seven. The six goals were the most in any period of the championship since 1997 (North Dakota 5, Boston University 1, 2nd).
“The staple of our team all year — we come in waves,” said Union captain Mat Bodie. “All three of those goals were pack-of-wolf goals where we were just throwing the puck on net.”
The wolfpack attack continued in the third period when Bodie, Max Novak and Kevin Sullivan scored for Union.
Goalie Colin Stevens made 36 saves as Union capped a 32-6-4 season with a 12-game winning streak, 17-game unbeaten streak and a title.
Head coach Rick Bennett won the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year in his third season.
“I don’t think anyone will call us Cinderella anymore,” said Gostisbehere, who also had two assists. “These guys, my brothers, they do everything for me. I don’t care about anything else, were national champions.”
On the cover and above: Union players celebrate their 7-4 victory against Minnesota on April 12, 2014, to win the NCAA men’s hockey championship. (Courtesy Union Athletics)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Towson and Tulane
• Tuesday: Tulsa and Union
• Wednesday: Utah Valley and Valparaiso
• Thursday: Vermont and VCU
• Friday: VMI and Western Carolina