This is the final of three Soaring to Glory analyses on the non-Boston College participants in the Frozen Four. Today’s subject is Union, a potential national championship foe. See: Minnesota and Ferris State
There is one more non-Boston College entry in the 2012 Frozen Four, and this one makes its home much closer to Boston than the previous two. From Schenectady, New York, just a short highway drive outside the capital of Albany and about an hour and a half from STG Headquarters, I give you the Union Dutchmen.
Union are not only the champions of the ECAC, but of the East Region in this year’s NCAA Tournament. To get this far, the Dutchmen knocked out Michigan State and BC’s Hockey East compadres UMass-Lowell. On Thursday afternoon, they will face Ferris State, who are also in the Frozen Four for the first time ever (note: Union, while a member of Division III, made some deep tournament runs, but never before in Division I).
The most productive players for Union this season in terms of points are junior Jeremy Welsh and senior Kelly Zajac. Welsh has 43 points while Zajac has 42, but Welsh has 27 goals and Zajac has only eight. Those 34 assists have Zajac essentially in the top five nationally, while Welsh’s 27 goals are good for fourth-best in Division I. The Dutchmen have also gotten results from sophomore Daniel Carr, cracking the top thirty with 19 goals so far this year. Welsh, Carr, and junior Wayne Simpson have all scored nine power play goals each this season.
As a team, Union is cranking offensively. The Dutchmen average 3.55 goals per game, fourth-best in the nation and two spots ahead of your Boston College Eagles (though the two teams are only separated by an insignificant five-hundredths of a goal). Even more impressive, however, is how Union defends. The Dutchmen are, in fact, the top defensive team in the nation, allowing only 1.80 goals per game. Sophomore Troy Grosenick has been terrific in goal for Union this year, sticking to a 1.6419 GAA and .936 save percentage, giving him some of the best individual numbers of any goalie in the nation. To his credit, he has also put together five shutout wins over the course of the season.
On the power play and penalty kill, Union is doing just as well. With regards to their own man-advantages, Union converts 24.34% of the time, fourth-best in the nation. When the other team has the power play, the Dutchmen kill them at an 84.8% rate, tenth-best in Division I.
This is a very good Union team and they should not be discounted. Clearly, no team that has reached the Frozen Four should be dismissed, but when one examines the Dutchmen’s body of work this season, they see a complete team that has been successful in several phases of the game. If Boston College is fortunate enough to advance to the national championship game on Saturday, this may very well be the Eagles’ opponent (with all due respect to Ferris State, who are a tough team themselves).