Ken Schott covers Union hockey for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y. To help prepare for tomorrow's BC-Union game at the Frozen Four, Schott answered some questions about the Dutchmen.
1. Starting with the big picture: despite Nate Leaman moving on in 2011, Union has built a program that has now won three straight ECAC championships - the first team to pull that off since BU in the 1970s. How have they done it, given the lack of scholarships and "big name" hockey history? It's quite an impressive story.
Union has brought in an enormous amount of talent over the years. Even though they don't give out scholarships, there are plenty of grants that probably help get the players here. And the school has made a commitment to the program under president Stephen Ainlay, That wasn't the case under former president Roger Hull. Hull was the president when the program elevated to D-I from D-III in 1991.
Coaching has been key, too. Leaman was good in getting things going. Bennett has taken it to another level.
2. I think we are both in agreement that Shayne Gostisbehere should have been in the Hobey Hat Trick this year. What about Gostisbehere makes him so good? What does BC need to do to limit the danger he poses?
Gostisbehere has cut down on trying to be too cute when he handles the puck. In his first two years, he tried to hard in attempting to create offense. This season, he has kept it simple. He has also improved defensively with a plus-28 rating. He shared ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and the Defensive Defenseman Award. Plus, he has stayed away from taking bad penalties.
How does BC stop him? Does it have quick sand? LOL. The way to stop him is getting a body on him. With the way Gostisbehere moves, that could be tough.
3. BC's biggest threat comes from the top line of Gaudreau, Arnold, and Hayes. What players for Union do you expect to see matched up against the big line? What was the top line they've had to face this season, and how do you expect them to approach the task?
All four of Union's lines can do the job of shutting down an opposition's top line or players. This season, Union held ECACH Co-Rookie of the Year Sam Anas without a goal in two games. His linemates, Connor Jones and Kellen Jones, were held to a goal and an assist. ECACH Co-Player of the Year Greg Carey of St. Lawrence only had an assist in two games.
4. In terms of Union's style of play - how would you describe their forecheck and their breakout? What tempo will they want the game to be played at to be successful?
Union is very aggressive on he forecheck. Watching them from the press box in Bridgeport in the end that they defended twice, the Dutchmen have very quick sticks. They always seem to have them in perfect position to knock pucks off sticks or block shots. And Union will play any style you want to play.
5. The thing that makes Union such a scary opponent for anyone this year is that they seem, from the outside observer, to have no weaknesses. If you had to pick weak spots on this team a) could you do it? and b) what would they be?
The only weakness I see is in their faceoffs. They haven't been strong at times on that.
6. Colin Stevens has put up some impressive numbers this year in his first year as the regular starter for Union, including a 1.93 GAA - but he does have the benefit of playing for an outstanding team. What's the scouting report on Stevens for those who haven't seen him play?
Stevens always seems to be in the right position. He moves well laterally, and he has a very quick glove.
7. Would you consider either of these teams the favorite going in, or is this a toss up in your eyes?
It's too bad this game isn't the final. I think you have to give Union a slight edge because it is 14-0-1 in its last 15, and beating BC last year helps its confidence.