Tonight on NBCSN: No. 18 Union hosts No. 16 Dartmouth in ECAC clash

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The ECAC meat grinder rolls along and sees the defending conference champions Union looking to stay hot as they go up against Dartmouth.

No. 18 Union Dutchmen (13-8-4) vs. No. 16 Dartmouth Big Green (11-7-2) — 7:30 p.m. ET

Union College’s season following their first Frozen Four appearance in school history has seen them face a bit of a hangover.  At one point they had a stretch of five games that saw them go winless going 0-2-3 winding up the first half of their ECAC schedule and losing to a struggling Vermont team. Lately, things are on the upswing. They’ve won three in a row with conference wins over Colgate and Harvard and winning the inaugural Mayor’s Cup over rival Rensselaer. Coach Rick Bennett hopes his team has turned the corner in time for a crucial battle for third place in the ECAC with Dartmouth.

The Big Green, meanwhile, are just two spots ahead of Union in the USCHO.com Top 20 poll but even they’ve had some struggles lately. They’re 3-2-0 in their last five with wins over weaker teams like Brown, Clarkson, and Harvard. Meanwhile the losses are to second place Yale and an improving St. Lawrence squad. Coach Bob Gaudet’s squad started off hot this season and they’re hoping they can get that back starting tonight.

NHL prospects to watch

Each team has but one player per side who’s been drafted by an NHL team.

For Union, you’ve likely heard all about sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia – 2012 3rd Round). He was a part of this year’s Team USA World Junior Championship squad that took home gold in Ufa, Russia. He and senior blue liner Greg Coburn (Braydon Coburn’s little brother) are their biggest threats to score and set up offense on the blue line.

Others: Troy Grosenick (JR – G; 9-6-4, 2.22, .921), Wayne Simpson (SR – F; 12-16-28), Kyle Bodie (SR – F; 6-20-26)

For Dartmouth it’s senior forward Dustin Walsh (Montreal – 2009 6th Round) to take note of. Walsh is fourth on the team in points and we watched him have a big game earlier this season on NBCSN scoring two goals in a 4-2 win over Vermont. For some perspective, he’s got just seven goals this season.

Others: Tyler Sikura (SO – F; 9-16-25), Matt Lindblad (JR – Dl 9-14-23), Eric Robinson (JR – F; 10-6-16)

Video: Trisha Yearwood sings national anthem for Preds-Ducks

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Keith Urban sang the national anthem for Game 3. Kelly Clarkson did the honors for the Nashville Predators before Game 4. Next up: Trisha Yearwood for Game 6.

The Predators hope to close out the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and they got off to a nice start with Austin Watson scoring a quick 1-0 goal. Not long after, the Predators added another to build to a 2-0 lead.

Garth Brooks spoiled Yearwood’s appearance a bit before the contest.

Brooks also revealed Yearwood’s early fan creds:

Nick Ritchie ejected after boarding, bloodying Viktor Arvidsson

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Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored a goal in Game 4, but he won’t be able to provide such a scoring boost for his team in Game 6.

That’s because he was ejected during the first period after hitting rising Nashville Predators star Viktor Arvidsson from behind, bloodying the slick Swede.

Ritchie was whistled for a game misconduct and major. Remarkably, the Ducks killed the entire five-minute power-play opportunity, with Ryan Kesler‘s shorthanded chance being one of the better opportunities for either team.

It’s still a big blunder, but if the Ducks can get back in it, remember that big kill.

Video of the hit is coming soon. For now, check out the GIF:

Oddly, Arvidsson left the ice with a wound that more or less spelled out “R,” presumably for Ritchie, maybe celebrating the return of “Twin Peaks.”

(Such an obvious move might not be surreal enough for David Lynch, though. Alex Prewitt’s Zorro reference might be more, um, on the mark.)

Video: Predators storm off to 2-0 lead, beguile Bernier early on

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It was already loud at Bridgestone Arena, but the Nashville Predators are making it a madhouse with a strong start against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.

First, it was Austin Watson, who sent a puck off a Ducks skate to score a 1-0 goal on Nashville’s first shot on Jonathan Bernier, who is starting instead of John Gibson. That came about 90 seconds into the game, really revving up the crowd.

Colton Sissons scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final – on his first shot on goal of the series – to make it 2-0. At that point, Bernier had allowed two goals on three shots on goal. Bernier’s made a few stops since then, but it’s a shaky start for a Ducks team facing elimination.

There’s some solace in that Anaheim’s often at its best in dire situations, though you have to wonder how many times they can bounce back from this?

No Mike Fisher or Craig Smith for Predators in Game 6

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The Anaheim Ducks won’t have John Gibson back, but the Nashville Predators are dealing with some injury-related letdowns, too.

Craig Smith skated before Game 6, but he opted not to play on Monday. Mike Fisher is also unable to go for the Predators as they aim to eliminate Anaheim.

The Ducks also won’t have Rickard Rakell back in the mix, so this physical Western Conference Final continues to feel like a battle of attrition.

Click here for the official roster report.

Game 5 is airing on NBCSN right now. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

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