Finishing off their storybook season as the underdog everyone loves to love, the Union College Dutchmen finished off the Minnesota Golden Gophers with a 7-4 win to clinch their first ever college hockey National Championship. After letting up a goal just 2:37 into the game, Union turned on the jets, scoring four goals in the first period, and adding three more in the third period to seal the deal in the Frozen Four final.
After Minnesota opened the scoring in the first period, junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere tied the game for Union at 9:26. Although Minnesota responded with a go-ahead goal just 37 seconds later, Union regrouped and scored three consecutive goals within 1:54. Minnesota’s Taylor Cammarata scored early in the second period to bring the Gophers within one, but Union’s Max Novak tipped in a pinpoint pass from Kevin Sullivan to put the Union back up by two. The two teams traded goals late in the third period, and senior captain Mat Bodie potted an empty netter with 45 seconds remaining to seal the deal.
Minnesota pushed hard the entire game, but Union’s defensive play was stellar, and as the clock hit zero, the bench cleared to celebrate a momentous occasion for the college that everyone referred to as the “David” of this year’s tournament – despite their top-three national ranking.
Junior forward Daniel Ciampini added a goal and an assist of his own in the final, and expressed how much his teammates deserved this.
“It’s so fitting, because the guys in this locker room gave it their all,” said Ciampini. “I don’t think anybody works harder than we do. I can’t even explain it. It’s such a surreal feeling right now.”
Junior goaltender Colin Stevens stopped 36 shots for Union, and despite some shaky goaltending through the first period, stayed focused and shut Minnesota down for most of the final two periods. He was named to the Frozen Four’s all-tournament team.
However, Gostisbehere was the star of the game, controlling the play for Union for nearly 60 minutes. He was an astounding plus-7 on the night, and he added a highlight-reel goal in the first period, in addition to two assists. He was on the ice for every Union goal. His offensive abilities drew “oohs” and “ahs” from the crowd as he skated circles around the Minnesota skaters and he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four, as voted on by the media, and was also named to the all-tournament team.
“It’s just awesome being in here with the guys and that trophy,” said Gostisbehere, “With the alumni who made the program what it is today, to share this with them is just awesome. You can’t even describe it.
“All that matters is that my teammates are champions.”
Union’s championship was their 33rd win of the season – the end to a campaign in which they lost just six games, and did not lose a game after January 31.