Time for the third edition of Aaron Coulters excellent team by team preview of this years NCAA Friendship Four
Union College Dutchmen
The NCAA champions from 2013/2104, hailing from the wonderfully named Schenectady in New York State, come to Belfast on the back of finishing second in the ECAC division and one place ahead of last year’s Friendship Four winners Clarkson. The season ultimately ended prematurely and in disappointing fashion, getting eliminated at home by Princeton in a sweep. Their team this year consists of 9 seniors, meaning players in their final year of college, and as a result expectations are high after last season’s disappointing end. While they may not be openly talking about going all the way, many believe that this is their best opportunity in recent years to make a run at the national championship. Taking the Belpot trophy home would be a step in the right direction.
The Dutchmen are led again this year by head coach Rick Bennett, who will be going into his 14th year behind the bench and has coached and developed his fair share of high-quality players, notably current NHL’ers Shayne Gostisbehere and Keith Kinkaid.
Player to watch – #15 John ‘Jack’ Adams
At 6’5” and 205lbs, John Adams won’t be hard to miss on the ice. The behemoth right winger, selected in the 6th round of the 2017 NHL draft by the Detroit Red Wings, had a solid freshman year last year, putting up 13 points in 28 games, 2nd amongst all freshmen on the team last season. Adams’ best traits are not what you would expect from a player his size – he is sneaky quick, and uses great vision to make plays all over the ice. His huge reach also enables him to be effective at both ends of the ice, breaking up passes and being generally hard to play against. Adams will also draw inspiration from his late brother and hero, Mark, who tragically passed away in September aged just 27.
PODCAST: We’re On Our Way! – This Week’s A View From The Bridge chats to Aaron Murphy, lead commentator on this weeks tournament, about the NCAA Friendship Four, as well as interviews with Josh Roach, Adam Keefe, Jonathan Ferland and Blaze Head Coach, Danny Stewart.
A View From The Bridge Podcast, Official Podcast of the Belfast Giants, part of Kingdom Of The Giants.
New Editions are online EVERY WEDNESDAY from Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other good podcast providers.
Words: Aaron Coulter
Pictures: Friendship Four / Union College Twitter / PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER