Bitter, bitter defeat
I'm not that surprised at the loss, I expected it was a good possibility, based on RPI's inability to score goals against Colgate during the season, when literally every other team in ECAC Hockey did.
The fact that the Engineers followed last year's defeat to the 11th seed with an upset loss to the last-place team in the league, who's nine wins include three against RPI and three against horribly-weak Atlantic Hockey teams, is shocking. It's almost intolerable.
How RPI went 2-6-1 in its past nine games, 1-5-1 in the final seven home games is almost incredible.
It's difficult to express just how gut-wrenching this loss is. Knowing how I feel, as the local beat writer -- and I don't mind admitting I WANT RPI to succeed -- how bitterly empty the loss makes me, I can't imagaine how the players feel; what's going through Seth Appert's mind right now, and what's going on in his stomach.
With no disrespect to Colgate whatsoever -- and the Raiders deserved to win -- this loss will everyone in the Rensselaer hockey community shake their heads all spring and summer.
There were tears in the eyes of many RPI players Sunday night, even though the game had been over for nearly 30 minutes.
Chase Polacek had to fight back more tears as he greeted the media.
"This isn't what we had in mind; not how we envisioned for it to end like this," he said, adding that the defeat is worse than last year's to Brown.
"Yeah, I think it is. This is my senior year," he said. "We didn't expect to be in this position right now. I wasn't planning on this, I wasn't expecting this at all.
"I think we've made a lot of good strides," Polacek said of his four years, in which the Engineers had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in nearly a decade.
"Going from the bottom of the league to 20 wins and some pretty high national rankings," he continued. "But it really doesn't matter after this."
Polacek won two ECACH scoring titles and is a Hobey Baker Award candidate.
"I'm really going to miss it, going to miss it a lot," said senior captain John Kennedy.
"It hurts," said senior winger Bryan Brutlag. "You work really hard at something for so long and care about it so much and to have it end so suddenly, it hurts.
"I love the guys on this team," Brutlag added.
"It sucks that it's over," said senior winger Tyler Helfrich, who scored RPI's only goal in the game. "We kept fighting. They deserved to win."
"I'm speechless right now," said senior defenseman Jeff Foss.