PHILADELPHIA -- They’d had time, of course, as winners of Thursday’s first national semifinal in the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Frozen Four, to clean up and knot ties. Not arrive at the post-game interview dais unkempt.
As such, several members of third-ranked Union (N.Y.), who’d upset second-ranked Boston College no more than 40 minutes before, also arrived with some spark.“One at a time,” junior winger Daniel Ciampini replied good-naturedly to one media member in a playful joust at multiple questions.
One-at-a-time was how Ciampini helped vanquish the Golden Eagles, notching his first collegiate hat trick in the 5-4 victory against Boston College. All three goals came at critical junctures, one in the second period and two in Union’s breakout third period where the Dutchmen erased then demolished a 2-2 tie.
Union awaits the winner of Thursday’s second semifinal between North Dakota and Minnesota. Saturday’s national championship game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
“My hat's off to Boston College,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said. “It's a very dangerous team over there with a lot of excellent hockey players. Obviously well coached by the coaching staff. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them, and they showed it tonight. And obviously we came out on the fortunate side.”
The successful third-period kill of a 5-minute major penalty was a tremendous shift in Union’s favor and not to be underestimated. The Dutchmen led 3-2 at the time. But, they required firepower as much as defense against Boston College, and got nearly all of the former from Ciampini.
His first goal, at 10:45 of the second period, gave Union a 2-1 lead. Goal No. 2, at 6:31 of the third, on a power play, broke a 2-2 tie. Goal No. 3, an empty-netter at 18:51, iced it, although Boston College scored once more in the final seconds to pull within 5-4.
So, credit Ciampini the game winner, too.
“He was huge for us,” Union senior captain Matt Bodie, said of his teammate.
How about Danny-on-the-spot?
The Union combination of Daniel Carr at left wing, Mike Vecchione at center and Ciampini at right wing produced four goals and two assists (Vecchione scored the Dutchmen’s fourth goal in that breakout third period).
Contrast those numbers with Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau at left wing, Bill Arnold at center and Kevin Hayes on the right — one of college hockey’s top lines. Gaudreau, a junior, is one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which will be bestowed Friday night. The nation’s top scorer, he tallied Boston College’s first goal, in the first period. But Gaudreau contributed only two assists the rest of the way. Hayes tallied two assists; Arnold, one.
“We had three great guys on that line,” Ciampini said of the Gaudreau-Arnold-Hayes combination. “And they're going to have hell of careers going forward, but I feel like that was the biggest thing that we needed to do is just push back and not just sit back and let them come at us.”
Instead, it was Ciampini blasting a feed from Carr and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, past Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko in the second period. Ciampini’s second goal in the third period, Union’s only power-play score, also came from Gostisbehere, and, this time, Vecchione. Hovering and battling near Demko paid off.
“Just sit in front in the net and wait for rebound,” Ciampini said. “Being able to put it in the net was pretty special”
The empty-net goal, later, was threading a needle.
“Longest period I’ve ever played,” Ciampini said of the exertion factor in that final 20 minutes.
“He brings it every night,” Bodie said of Ciampini. “Gets three goals -- it was huge. He goes in dirty areas and in front of the net. He goes to the dirty spots. It’s not a fun spot in the front of the net.”
It was Thursday night, for the entire Union team.
“With us it's gotta be a team thing,” Bennett said. “We don't really have a top line. It's gotta come from everybody.”
“I got very, very lucky tonight,” Ciampini said. “And I thank my linemates and Shayne for blasting my stick away there. It broke on the tip. You know, it's good that I could produce.”