SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Doug Christiansen’s backside never looked so good to the Union Dutchmen.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound senior forward had his back to Rensselaer goalie Nathan Marsters when teammate Brent Booth sent a shot in from the high slot. The puck hit Marsters, then caught Christiansen in the rear and trickled into the net with 8:37 left in the third period, breaking a 4-4 tie and giving the Dutchmen a 5-4 come-from-behind ECAC victory Wednesday at Achilles Rink.
“All I saw that once it hit off me, it went over and hit [Marsters'] shoulder,” Christiansen said. “It just kind of trickled, and it was on its side rolling in. It took a long time to go from his shoulder to over the goal line. It felt like an eternity. But once it was in, it was a good feeling.”
Union (8-7-3, 4-5-1 ECAC), which played in its fifth straight one-goal game, won the season series from RPI (7-9-2, 2-6-2) for the second straight season. The Dutchmen trailed by two goals three times in the game with their Capital Region rival.
“I’ve got to give them credit, they’re a resilient bunch,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said of his team. “It’s almost like they have the same verbiage that a coach would have — get them back one at a time. They firmly believe it. They chipped away and played hard.”
The Dutchmen’s win overshadowed a great game played by the Engineers’ Matt Murley and Marc Cavosie. Murley scored his third career hat trick, and Cavosie assisted on all four goals.
Going to the net paid off for Christiansen, who earned his sixth goal of the season.
“The puck hit me in my back,” Christiansen said. “Basically, I went to the net. I knew that the [defense] was shooting it because we’ve been talking all week about putting the puck on net. `Booty’ did a great job putting it down on goal. I was just there at the right place and the right time.”
RPI coach Dan Fridgen was left to wonder if he could ever get a break in a game at Achilles.
He was upset that Jason Kean’s goal at 12:20 of the second period that helped Union tie the score, 4-4, was allowed to stand. Kean’s shot was stopped by Marsters, but the puck bounced in the air. Union’s Jeff Wilson tried to knock the puck down with his glove. The puck hit Marsters’ back and went in. After a brief discussion with his assistants, referee Tim Kotyra ruled it a goal.
It was the second time that Fridgen believes Kotyra let Union get away with one. In last season’s game at Achilles, Kotyra let a Union goal stand even though the net was off its supports.
“You have a goal that’s batted in out of the air by a hand,” said Fridgen, whose team in 0-4-1 in its last five games. “That’s just ridiculous. And we’ve got it on film.”
Wilson said he missed it.
“I’ll admit I was going for the puck, but it never hit me,” Wilson said. “It just happened to go straight up in the air, land on the goalie’s back and roll into net. Thank God I didn’t touch it.”
The way the game started, the Engineers looked as if they were going to run away from the Dutchmen.
Three power-play goals, two by Murley and one by Ryan Shields, gave RPI a 3-1 lead in the first period. The Dutchmen cut it to 3-2 late in the first on Marc Neron’s goal.
Murley completed his hat trick at 1:25 of the second period. Joel Beal helped Union get within one again just under eight minutes later.
“It’s been tough, but we have more than half the league schedule left,” Murley said. “It’s going to take a lot of character to bounce back from this.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.