Saturday, March 10, 2012

Engineers should have gained some confidence

SCHENECTADY -- Seth Appert said his Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team realized "no moral victory" on Friday night when outplaying Union in the third period of its 3-2 ECAC Hockey playoff loss to Union; even though the defeat gave RPI a 4-17-4 in the past 25 meetings of the rivals and even though the Engineers nearly tied the game in the third period.
Maybe not, but after being outscored 15-4 in three previous losses to the Dutchmen this season, the Engineers could exact a measure of good psychology for tonight's Game 2 of the ECACH quarterfinal-round series at Union's Messa Rink.
The Engineers played the more talented Dutchmen quite even in 5-on-5 situations.
"Our first mistake was getting down shorthanded, those two (power-play) goals," said Rensselaer captain Mike Bergin.
Greg Coburn's power-play goal early in the second period gave Union (21-7-7) a 3-1 lead at that point.
"And they're a tough team to come back against," Bergin said. "They're not just offensively talented, they're really good defensively, too. We just have to come out buzzing (tonight) right from the get-go."
"We weren't in the box that much," Appert said. "Only five (Union) power plays, so from that perspective..."
To be sure, it will be quite difficult for the Engineers to beat Union without special teams being a big factor. For RPI to win twice, with Union's power play and PK seeing lots of action, it will be next to impossible.
Having said that, Patrick Cullen had a clear breakaway midway through the second period and Matt Tinordi would have had a second goal if he'd been able to cleanly handle Brock Higgs' cross-ice pass.
In fairness, it should be added that Union's Kelly Zajac rattled one off the crossbar in the third.
All in all, though, while not a "moral victory", the outcome was much better than 5-1, 5-2, 5-1 and the Engineers can be confident for Game 2 tonight.
"We don't care": Alex Angers-Goulet, after describing his third-period goal to the media after Game 1, was asked if Union deliberately made RPI wear its home sweaters (the Dutchmen wore their black alternative jerseys) because the Engineers had been 7-1-1 in their past nine road games -- and because RPI was lodging just six blocks from Messa Rink, rather than commute.
"I don't think so," he said. "We could wear yellow, I don't care."
Rensselaer captain Joel Malchuk, when told Union's, 3-2, Game 1 victory was the Dutchmen's first one-goal victory of the season, had no real reaction.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "It's just coincidence."
Yes -- the Dutchmen went 0-2-0 against last-place Brown, not only had the ECACH's worst record in one-goal decisions, but went winless in such games.
Go back as many years as you want and try to find another such example.
No doubt the Dutchmen would just smile and/or chuckle when the subject is mentioned.


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