TROY, N.Y. — The Rensselaer Engineers scored six times in the first period, scored five times on the power play and cruised to a 9-2 victory over the UMass-Amherst Minutemen at the Houston Fieldhouse on Saturday evening.
The Engineers got four goals from Matt Murley in the first period and scored six, including two five-on-three and two five-on-four power-play goals, in that first period.
“It was a great period,” said Murley, who is now just one shy of his goal total of last year. “I guess I turned into a great goal scorer all of a sudden. Last year those shots would have hit the post and bounced into our own net.”
Murley started the scoring 2:17 into the game on the power play when he picked up a rebound and shuffled it past Minuteman goaltender Markus Helanen. He added his second five minutes later with a snapshot from the top of the right circle.
The fireworks then started as Marc Cavosie was cross-checked in front of Helanen and that precipitated an all-out brawl which saw disqualifications and fighting penalties handed out to three players from each team. The Engineers lost Scott Basiuk, Danny Eberly and Ben Barr, while the Minutemen lost Thomas Pock, Randy Drohan and Luke Duplessis.
In addition, the cross-checking penalty was enforced and a bench minor was given to UMA.
The result was an extended five-on-three penalty time for the Engineers, and they capitalized.
Jim Vickers snapped one that eluded Helanen for the first five-on-three power-play goal. Then Murley added his hat trick goal, also on a five-on-three.
With only one man down, the Minutemen saw Ryan Shields score from right out in front between the legs of Helanen to take a 5-0 lead 15:13 into the game.
At that point UMA coach “Toot” Cahoon took Helanen out and replaced him with Mike Johnson. That didn’t seem to help as 15 seconds later, Murley tipped a puck that had fallen in the crease to Johnson’s side past him for the 6-0 lead.
“We’ve been fighting the penalty problem, especially away from home,” said Cahoon. “We’ve talked about it in practice all week and we still went out and took penalties.”
But a lot of the talk after the game was about the fighting.
“Yes, that was a situation where [Cavosie] might have been hurt,” said Engineer coach Dan Fridgen, when asked if the fighting was justified. “But it’s tough because it’s just something you can’t do.
“We had two freshmen and one sophomore disqualified and if we had had some upperclassmen out there, this might not have happened.”
“I didn’t think the guy who started it was penalized,” said Cahoon. “The guy who started got to stay in the game and that’s why I argued and I definitely let [the referees] know it and I got called for it.”
The Minutemen scored the next two goals in the second period. J.R. Zavisza got a rebound of a Anthony Scaparotti shot on a three-on-two situation and then Martin Miljko scored on a five-on-three power play from Engineer goaltender Kevin Kurk’s right side.
The Engineers added another power-play goal when Cavosie got loose and posted up on Johnson’s left and had an empty net once he got the pass.
The third period saw the Engineers tally two more as Nolan Graham blasted one from the top of the left circle past a re-inserted Helanen and Chris Migliore scored shorthanded to close out the scoring on the 9-2 win.
“It was tough being up by six goals after one period and then not to start thinking too offensively and giving up anything on the backside,” said Fridgen.
The Engineers (4-3-0) will host Mercyhurst next Saturday, while the Minutemen (3-6-2) have now gone winless in the last four and will travel to Vermont on Tuesday evening.
“I’m just sitting back right now,” said Cahoon. “I haven’t been through adversity with these guys yet and I don’t know how they will respond.”