PHILADELPHIA — Union College won its first NCAA hockey title last night, scoring three times in a 1:54 span in the first period in a 7-4 victory over Minnesota.
Mike Vecchione tied it at 2 with 4:01 left in the first, Eli Lichtenwald gave the Dutchmen the lead 57 seconds later, and Daniel Ciampini capped the spree with 2:57 to go.
“I don’t think anyone will call us Cinderella anymore,” said Shayne Gostisbehere, who had a goal and two assists. “These guys, my brothers, they do everything. I don’t care about anything else, we’re national champions.”
Max Novak, Kevin Sullivan and Mat Bodie also scored and Colin Stevens made 36 saves for Union (32-6-4), a 2,194-student liberal arts college in Schenectady, N.Y., which competes in Division III in all other sports.
Justin Kloos, Sam Warning, Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching scored for Minnesota (28-7-6). Adam Wilcox stopped 41 shots for the five-time champion Golden Gophers.
Cammarata pulled Minnesota within one with the only goal in the second period, but Novak restored the two-goal cushion on a deflection at 5:31 of the third.
Fasching cut it to 5-4 with a power-play goal with 3:40 left, but Sullivan put it away with 1:22 to go, and Bodie scored into an empty net with 44.2 seconds remaining.
“This was the biggest game of our lives,” said Bodie, the team captain.
Under third-year coach Rick Bennett, Union won its final 12 games and went 16-0-1 in its last 17.
The Dutchmen are relatively new to college hockey’s grand stage.
Although they have had a Division I program for more than 20 years, they didn’t start making noise at the national level until 2012, when they first made the Frozen Four.
As a member of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, Union does not give athletic scholarships. The college relies on a heavy financial aid system to offset the cost of private school tuition.