2014 Frozen Four: Keys to success for Union College

Union senior captain Mat Bodie - Matt Dewkett

Three keys to success for Union

PHILADELPHIA -- Union College doesn't have the offensive firepower of Boston College, and who does, but the Dutchmen have several tricks up their sleeves that could derail the Eagles bid for a fourth Frozen Four since 2008.

Union's speed, transition game and depth are the three biggest reasons to like the Dutchmen's chances of bringing home the school's first NCAA Championship.

Sizzling speed

Any fan that was in attendance at the East Regional semifinal in Bridgeport can attest to how dangerous Union's speed can be for an opposing team. Vermont was on the power play in the first period, but it was Dutchmen forward Matt Hatch who scored the game's first goal.

The senior from Massena, NY intercepted the puck near the defensive blue line and burst up the right side, buzzing past the Vermont defense. Hatch cut in on Vermont goaltender Brody Hoffman and squeaked the puck into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

That was just one example of how the Dutchmen's speed helped their success in the East Regional. Union has used its superior team speed to its advantage all season and will need to again this weekend if it will leave Philadelphia with the ultimate hardware.

Fastbreak offense

Perhaps no team in the country is better at the transition game than Union College. It starts with the ability of defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere and Mat Bodie to push the puck up ice. They are two of the more agile and well-skating blue liners in the country. The two combine their hockey savvy with the skill to alertly push the play to the other end.

The whole team really buys into the system that Rick Bennett and the entire coaching staff employs. The forwards are responsible in their own end and do a good job of helping out, but being ready to move up ice the other way.

It goes along with the team speed, but to borrow a basketball term, the Dutchmen can really bring the fastbreak offense. If the Eagles' young defense isn't careful, it could lead to some quality scoring chances.

Depth

Just three players, Max Novak, Bodie and Hatch, were responsible for finding the back of the net in the East Regional. Novak and Hatch each had three goals and Bodie added two as well, but the depth of the Dutchmen is another factor that could give them an advantage over BC.

Bennett can roll three to four lines consistently and get a solid contribution out of each. Whether it be in the offensive end or just in each line's ability to push the pace and bring energy, Union's four lines are all capable of wreaking havoc with BC's game plan.

Union and Boston College square off Thursday at 5:06 p.m. ET on ESPN2 from the Wells Fargo Center for the right to play in Saturday's national championship contest.

--

Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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