Monday, April 7, 2014

Q and A With Union Hockey Reporter Ken Schott

How much do you know about Union ? Probably not much. How much do I know about Union ? Not much at all but hopefully you will be a little more familiar with Thursday's opponent thanks to my question and answer session with Ken Schott from the Schenectady Gasette. Ken does a tremendous job of covering both Union and RPI for the town's paper. He has been covering sports for over 30 years. You can follow him @slapschotts on Twitter. 

Q- It's been a year since Union thumped BC in Providence How is this Union team compared to last years squad ? What are their strengths and weaknesses ?

 To me, this year's Union is squad is better than last year. The Dutchmen are more focused this season. They had a big lull midway through last season before snapping out of it in February. This year, after a 5-3 loss to Colgate at Messa Rink dropped the Dutchmen to 3-3-2, an an angry coach Rick Bennett called out several of his players. The next night, they limited Cornell to 11 shots and won, 3-0, Since Bennett's outburst, they are 27-3-2.
The Dutchmen's strength is that they can play any style. You want to play physical? No problem. You want to go up-tempo? They can play that, too. They are excellent in the defensive zone and have quick sticks. The only weakness to me is in faceoffs. They seem to lose more draws than they win.

Q- Is this a team that is heavily dependent on a few top guys or do they have bottom six forwards that can score ? 
2) Union has a couple of lines that can score. The line of freshman center Mike Vecchione (12-19-31), left winger Daniel Carr (22-26-48) and right winger Daniel Ciampini (19-17-36) is the Dutchmen's top line. In the East Regional, the line of junior center Max Novak, left winger Matt Hatch and right winger Kevin Sullivan led the way with six goals and six assists. Novak was named the regional's Most Outstanding Player. 

The Dutchmen have strong offensive defensemen, left by senior Mat Bodie (6-29-35) and junior Shayne Gostisbehere (8-21-29). Freshman D Jeff Taylor (3-12-15) will be player to watch, too.

Q-Shayne Gostisbehere is one of the top players in college hockey, certainly the top defensemen, what makes him so good and what have some teams done to maybe slow him down a bit ? 

3) Gostisbehere's defensive play has improved greatly this season. He has a plus-rating. He doesn't take as many chances as he did in the past. He is also staying away from taking bad penalties. He is very confident in his offensive abilities and always wants the puck. I don't the opposition has figured out a way to stop him. He has skated circles the opposition. Gostisbehere was the ECAC Hockey Co-Player of the Year and won the Co-Defensive Defenseman Award.

Q-The departure of Troy Grosenick last spring seemed like a huge hole to fill this year but Jr Colin Stevens seems to be doing just fine. Has he been the go to guy all year or has their been a lot of flip flopping between goaltenders ? 

4) Stevens became the third Union goalie in four years to win the Ken Dryden Award as the ECACH's top goalie. He got hurt in the first game of the season and missed the rest of the October games. He has gotten stronger as the season progressed. He set a team record with six shutouts. He set a team record for saves in a shutout with 49 in a 2-0 win over Yale Feb. 28. He always seems to be in position. Also has a great glove.

Q-Last year, I was extremely impressed with the skating ability that some of Union's defensemen possessed. Obviously everyone knows about Gostisbehere but outside of him, who posses a threat on the blue line

5) As I mentioned above, Bodie is one of the Dutchmen's top defenseman. He has a great shot. Taylor has been paired with Gostisbehere for most of the season, and has done a good job. Junior Charlie Vasaturo is a solid defensive defenseman. Sophomore Sebastien Gingras has shown flashes of good play. Freshman Noah Henry, who was platooning in the first half of the year, has become a regular and played well.

Q-Score ?

6) Prediction: Union 4, BC 2.

Q-Lastly, you're a Philly native, in terms of food/touring what are places that Eagle fans should be sure to visit. 

7) I can definitely suggest Pat's Steaks and/or Geno's Steaks, which are across the street from one another at South 9th Street and Passyunk Ave. Two other recommendations are Tony Luke’s, which is underneath I-95 at 39 Oregon Ave., and Jim’s Steaks at the corner of 4th and South streets.And don’t forget to get a genuine Philadelphia soft pretzel. And hoagies. And Tastykakes.
Since I left Philly for York College of Pa. in 1981, a lot has changed in downtown Philly. I'm not sure what the best places are. I'm usually hanging out at places where I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia.

Thanks to Ken for taking the time to answer my questions. 

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