Young Union men’s hockey team’s defensive unit is gaining experience

SCHENECTADY — There are 9 defensemen at the Union College males’s hockey roster.

Two thirds of them are underclassmen (4 newbies, two sophomores). Three are juniors. Two of the ones juniors, Nic Petruolo and Nathan Kelly, are of their 2nd yr in their faculty careers. They didn’t play of their freshman yr for the reason that Dutchmen canceled their 2020-21 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are not any senior defensemen.

There can be some rising pains for the defensive unit. They will play smartly, like they did in final Thursday’s 5-1 win over Bentley at Messa Rink. And there would be the occasional clunker, like final Saturday’s 8-5 loss to RIT at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.

Minimizing the unhealthy video games can be vital for the Dutchmen (2-3-1) as they get nearer to the beginning of ECAC Hockey play subsequent weekend towards RPI. They have two extra non-conference video games this weekend after they commute to Amherst, Massachusetts, to tackle sixth-ranked UMass (2-0-1) Friday and Saturday at Mullins Center.

Outside of the RIT recreation, first-year Union head trainer Josh Hauge has been happy with how the younger defensive corps has performed.

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for these guys to get so much ice time as young players and just such a benefit for them to be thrown into the fire,” Hauge stated Tuesday on the group’s media availability at Messa. “It’s thrilling to look that they’ve taken giant steps, and I feel if you have some more youthful defenseman, you’ll have nights the place you might be at risk of [have], what came about on Saturday, the place you’re simply making green performs. “If we’re no longer selecting each and every different up, we will be able to get into hassle.

“But overall, I’m really happy with where they’re at. They’ve taken such steps, and there’s just so much accountability on him as a young D-corps.”

The 8 targets Union allowed to RIT had been essentially the most since giving up 8 to Clarkson at Cheel Arena on Jan. 15 of final season. Petruolo is aware of what went unsuitable towards RIT, and believes the group is running to right kind the ones errors this week in follow.

“It’s a one-game thing,” Petruolo stated. “Obviously, every game right now is big for us [in the] Pairwise [Rankings]. But we do have a young D-corps, and so there’s going to be a lot of learning coming along from that. RIT was definitely a game we learned from, as well as Bentley. I feel that no matter what the outcome is of the game, there’s always things that we can critique and get better at, which is one thing that our defensive coach [assistant coach Lenny Childs] stresses a lot.”

Kelly believes the bond is robust with the defensive unit.

“We have a great group that we can bounce back with,” Kelly stated. “[I] like a lot of energy from us, especially with our young guys playing such good roles. Being the players that they are, I think we can turn it around really quickly. I don’t think we’ll look at our last game too heavily. We’re just going to focus on UMass.”

Freshmen Nick Young and John Prokop had been spectacular up to now. They each and every had been identified through the ECACH through being named Rookie of the Week. Young gained the award final week after scoring his collegiate objective Oct. 7 towards UConn. Prokop earned the glory Monday after gathering 5 assists within the two video games final week.

Prokop is 2nd at the group in scoring with seven issues, all on assists. Young has a objective and an help.

“They’re playing some hard minutes, and they’re producing offensively, so it’s nice to see.” Hauge stated. “I think it gives us confidence to know that they’re only going to get better and they’re only going to get more comfortable in their role. I think they both have big-time futures ahead for us and are excited that we have them in the program.”

Young and Prokop are taking note of recommendation from Petruolo and Kelly.

“They’ve been nothing but helpful to any questions we’ve had,” Young stated. “I think it really helped us get to where we are and obviously, it’s not where we want to be [yet]. We keep wanting to push to be better. Without them, I don’t think there’s any way we get Rookie of the Week. They’ve really helped us and take that next step from the junior leagues into Division I.”

Said Prokop, “They’ve done it before, so leaning on that was extremely important like going through wins like Bentley and losses like RIT and especially going into conference play here in a couple of weeks. They’ve seen it before, so it’s important to ask questions.”

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