The Union College Dutchmen won the ECAC Hockey regular season and tournament titles, and they're in the NCAA Tournament to prove their conference is no cupcake. With the No. 1 seed in the East Region, they're favored in their first-round matchup against a much more recognizable school, Michigan State.
Union has the fewest losses out of any of the 16 teams in this year's tournament, however, that might be a misleading stat as they've only beaten one team -- the Michigan Wolverines -- that's still alive. The Dutchmen tied Western Michigan (twice) and lost to both Cornell and Denver this season, and that win over the Wolverines was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak.
If anything, it's stats like those which go to show how important this weekend is for Union. The ECAC has good teams, but not at the same consistency as the WCHA, Hockey East and CCHA have. The conference hasn't seen a national champion since 1989, and with a No. 1 seed in Union that has good offensive and defensive stats (3.55 goals for per game vs. 1.85 goals against per game), it's intriguing to see if the Dutchmen are the real deal.
They are led up front by senior Kelly Zajac (brother of New Jersey Devils forward Travis) and junior Jeremy Welsh. Welsh, the ECAC Tournament MVP, finished the year second in the conference with 25 goals, and he's not afraid to put them up in bunches, netting five multi-goal games and a hat trick this year. In net for Union is sophomore goalie and Hobey Baker nominee Troy Grosenick, who is third in the nation with a .931 save percentage in 31 games.
For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.