Cambridge, Mass. - It looked as if Union College was in for a long night. After a lackluster first period, the Dutchmen trailed 2-0 on the road against Harvard.
Then they flipped the switch.
Union looked like an entirely different team in the final two periods, and stormed back to defeat the Crimson 4-2 in an ECAC matchup at Bright Arena.
"I think we were still at the Boston Red Sox parade, still celebrating," said Union head coach Rick Bennett of his team's slow start. "But that's a very good team over there.
"The first period, they just had the legs; we were just caught watching."
Through the first 20 minutes, it was all Crimson. Harvard looked very crisp, transitioning out of its own zone strongly, and went into the intermission ahead on the strength of goals from Greg Gozza and Ryan McGregor.
"The first period I thought was pretty even," said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. "We had a 2-0 advantage, I thought we made some plays, but we talked about after the first period we were going to have to play a lot better because they're a veteran team, and obviously a very good hockey club."
It didn't take long for Union to show its experience and swing the momentum coming out of the intermission. Just 23 seconds into the frame, Daniel Ciampini beat Steve Michalek to the stick-side on a wrap-around.
"We just kind of came in and realized we just had to regroup and play Union hockey," said Daniel Carr, who scored the game-winner.
Ciampini would find the back of the net again to tie the score. With the Dutchmen shorthanded, Michalek denied Sam Coatta on a backhand try, but Ciapmini would follow up the play and slam home the rebound to tie the score.
"I thought we had some nice waves as far as momentum swings," Bennett said. "For the most part, we'll see how many were actually chances, and there's a big difference.
"It really didn't feel like a game that we dominated by any means."
Union would grab its first lead of the night on the power play, scoring its third and final goal of the second period. After some nice puck movement in the zone, Carr let loose a one-timer that screamed under the crossbar and in.
On the play, Carr became the all-time leading scorer for the Union hockey program since it made the change to Division 1 in 1991.
"Obviously it's an honor," said Carr, who's parents were in attendance having made the trip down from Alberta, Canada. "I kind of forgot about [the record] until the equipment manager threw me the puck in the locker room after."
The middle frame was the difference, as Union outshot the Crimson 22-4, and jumped ahead. While the third was played more evenly, neither team scored, until a Matt Hatch empty-net goal capped the game with under a minute to go.
"For the second period, we got dominated pretty much all the way across the board," Donato said. "We gave up a shorthanded goal and a power play goal in the period, and the special teams certainly came back to bite us."
While it's still early, the game result did move Union ahead of Harvard in the ECAC standings. With a short league schedule, and points hard to come by, both teams acknowledged how important every conference matchup is.
"Especially for us, it's a pretty short season so every game is a battle," said Michalek, who recorded 41 saves in a stellar effort in net. "It was a pretty emotional game, and we have to stay more level-headed and play our game the whole 60 minutes."