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Union clinches ECAC Hockey regular season championship with win over St. Lawrence

Union broke away from a close race with Quinnipiac by going 6-0-1 over the past seven games.

Union senior Daniel Carr had two goals on senior night at Messa Rink.
Union senior Daniel Carr had two goals on senior night at Messa Rink.
J. Meric

Schenectady, NY -- For a third time in four seasons, Union College is the regular season champions in ECAC Hockey. The Dutchmen (22-6-4) defeated St. Lawrence, 6-2, to complete a four-point weekend and improve to 6-0-1 over the past seven games.

Union scored twice in a span of just 22 seconds late in the first period to stake the team to a two-goal lead after 20 minutes. Sebastian Gingras' blast from the point on the power play started the scoring at the 16:03 mark. Kevin Sullivan and Eli Lichtenwald had the assists.

Nick Cruice scored his sixth of the season 22 seconds later with assists going to Daniel Ciampini and Mike Vecchione.

Vecchione extended the Union lead to 3-0 with 7:05 to play in the second period when he connected for a goal on a delayed penalty.

The program's all-time leading goal scorer notched his 70th and 71st career goals later in the second period to give the Dutchmen a 5-0 lead. His first marker, a power play goal at 14:25, was off a one-timer from Shayne Gostisbehere who had received the puck from Mat Bodie.

Just over two minutes later Carr received a nice lead pass from Bodie and went in alone on the St. Lawrence goal before roofing a shot into the top of the net.

St. Lawrence sophomore Alex Hagen broke the shutout bid of Union goaltender Colin Stevens (24 saves) at the 5:49 mark of the third period.

Union freshman Eli Lichtenwald pushed the Dutchmen lead back to five just over three minutes later when he connected on a setup from Matt Wilkins and Carr.

SLU's Gunnar Hughes finished the scoring with 9:07 to play in the game.

Union, a program that had never won a league regular season or tournament title at the Division I level, now has five in the last four seasons. Rick Bennett's team will go for a third straight ECAC Tournament crown when the league tournament begins next month. The Dutchmen will make a fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance as well next month. Bennett's record, in two-plus season behind the bench at Union, is now 70-27-16.

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