TROY, N.Y. — Rensselaer saw five different players score, and Nathan Marsters made 22 saves en route to his second shutout of the season as the Engineers knocked off the Mercyhurst Lakers, 5-0.
“This is a team that came at us pretty hard,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “We endured and we knew what they were going to do. Getting the first goal was important; in the second period we got stronger and the third period was our strongest.”
The Engineers took advantage early in the first period as Mikael Hammarstrom scored his first collegiate goal. He took the puck from Marc Cavosie and ran in towards goaltender Peter Aubry along the end line, then at the last moment moved out front and put a backhander past an outstretched Aubry for the 1-0 lead.
The score remained that way until there were less than five minutes left in the second period. A rush in front of Aubry saw the puck pop out to Andrew McPherson, who wristed a shot on which the rebound was put in by Cavosie, from his knees, no less.
Later in the second, as a Laker power play expired the puck deflected out of the zone and onto the stick of Carson Butterwick. Butterwick slowly came down the right wing, apparently just trying to kill the remaining power-play time, when he reached back and blasted a shot that went off the glove of Aubry and in for the 3-0 lead.
“We just didn’t compete that hard in the first period. We came out and watched a little bit; I challenged them to come out and compete in the second period, and the game really changed on that shorthanded goal,” said Laker head coach Rick Gotkin. “We had some chances to make it 1-1 and even 2-1, and instead we come out of that second period down 3-0. We played better in that second, but we came out of it in the hole.”
As the third period started Aubry was replaced by Matt Cifelli, but the Engineers solved him midway through the period. Matt Murley fed Nolan Graham from behind the net, but the pass deflected off a Laker defender onto Cifelli, and then right to Graham, who roofed it for the 4-0 lead.
A similar scrum a little over a minute later saw McPherson pick up his first goal of the season, coming in on a rebound shot from Cavosie and putting it past Cifelli for the 5-0 win, and Marsters’ second shutout of the season and his career.
“Nate wasn’t on top of his game the last couple of times out,” said Fridgen. “I thought he did a good job regrouping and concentrating. [Tonight] he was focused, and it was probably the most focused he’s been during a game since BU.”
“I needed to bounce back with something, and to get a shutout is great for the confidence,” said Marsters. “It should be back to business now.”
“We played a much better second period, we’re competing and we’re hungry,” said Gotkin. “So I said, ‘Why don’t we go out in the third period and not worry about winning the game — let’s win each shift.’ If we could make it 3-1, maybe, just maybe.”
The game seemed to crawl at times as the Lakers consistently iced the puck, but in the end the Engineers handed the Lakers their second loss of the season, both to ECAC teams.
“That’s what kind of game it was going to be … a grind-it-out kind of game,” said Fridgen. “They kept it pretty simple, as far as a road game is concerned. They got across the red line and dumped the puck in on us and forced us back to regroup. They chipped it out, took a lot of icings and tried to slow the game down. I thought we handled it real well, especially down low, making some good plays and sticking to our system.”
The Engineers (5-3-0, 1-2-0 ECAC) will host Union in an ECAC game on Friday, and take on MAAC member Quinnipiac Saturday. The Lakers (5-2-2, 5-0-1 MAAC) host Wayne State Friday and then step back into MAAC action when they host Iona on Saturday.