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Dutchmen Try to Get Untracked

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, January 16, 2004

It seems like it has been years, and not just a couple of months, since the Union College men's hockey team put together the best start in the school's Division I history.

A 10-game winless streak, including nine straight losses, has a way of playing with your mind.

The Dutchmen, who started the season 6-1-1, will attempt to end that skid this weekend. It won't be easy, though, because they have to go on the road to a pair of unfriendly places.

Union (2-7-1 ECAC, 7-11-3 overall) heads to raucous Lynah Rink to face 10 th-ranked Cornell (5-1-2, 7-3-5) tonight at 7, and then plays at Colgate (4-4, 9-8-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Dutchmen haven't won at Lynah since Feb. 28, 1998.

"Cornell's a tough team to play against no matter where you play them, especially in their barn," Union forward Joel Beal said. "They have a lot of fan support there. It's an exciting game both ways. It's a real great atmosphere to play in, and we love going out there to play them. Hopefully, we can use a little bit of that energy against them."

Colgate's Starr Rink has been even more difficult for the Dutchmen. They are 1-11 in Division I play there. Their only victory came Feb. 27, 1998, which ended a seven-game winless streak.

History doesn't mean much to Dutchmen coach Nate Leaman. He's just trying to find a way to end this streak.

"We've got to make our own luck," Leaman said. "That's part of getting out of a funk like this. Part of getting out of a funk like this is making your breaks. When you're in funks like this, it seems the one mistake you make gets in the back of your net, and the mistakes your opponents make, they can make nine or 10 and it's still not going your way."

After scoring 35 goals in their first 11 games, the Dutchmen have managed just 16 goals during their slump. They have scored two or fewer goals eight times, which includes a 4-0 shutout by Princeton Dec. 5.

"We're having our chances," Leaman said. "We're outshooting a lot of people, but we're struggling scoring right now. That's something we have to work on. We have to create our chances, and make sure that we stay positive and make sure we get every puck to the net we can, and give us a chance to score."

Leaman has to get some of his key offensive players out of the doldrums.

After scoring nine goals in his first 11 games, sophomore center Scott Seney hasn't scored a goal in 10 games. He has just one assist during that span.

"I can't really explain it," said Seney, who leads the team with 15 points. "It's just one of those things. I feel like I'm still trying my best and going to the net. I have to bear down when I get close to the net and, hopefully, start scoring a little bit more."

Junior forward Jordan Webb, who led the team with 17 goals last season, has only three this year. Beal, who set a team record with 29 assists last year, has only nine this season.

"We've had our opportunities," Leaman said. "We just haven't converted on our opportunities. It's one of those things where we've missed a lot of open nets. Against RPI [last Saturday], we missed two open nets. Against Brown [Jan. 3], we missed two or three empty nets."

"It'll come. And when it does, the wins will start coming."

RPI visits Colgate

It's been a good week for RPI (6-3-1, 11-8-2), both on and off the ice.

The Engineers swept Capital Region rival Union last weekend. On Monday, the team found out that athletic scholarships will still be awarded after Proposal 65-1, an amendment to Proposal 65 that would have eliminated those scholarships from Division III institutions that play a Division I sport, was passed at the NCAA convention.

RPI, which has won its last three games, hopes to continue the good times when it visits Colgate tonight at 7. The Engineers then travel to Cornell for a 7 p.m. game Saturday.

"It's been a pretty good week," RPI defenseman Scott Basiuk said. "There's been a lot of good news with the girls' program [being moved up to Division I] and the proposal. We've been having a good week of practice."

RPI and Colgate meet for the second time this season, but the first in league play. The Raiders beat the Engineers, 2-1, in the Dec. 29 consolation game of the Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Tournament.

"We're looking forward to it," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "We're looking forward to the challenge. We played a real strong game against Colgate here. We had a couple of defensive breakdowns, and they capitalized."

Dutchwomen lose

SCHENECTADY - Alaina Clark and Sarah Courtney scored two goals each Thursday, leading Boston College to a 5-3 women's non-league college hockey victory over Union at Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center.

Kelly Lannan had two goals and an assist for the Dutchwomen (3-16-1), who have lost nine straight.