NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Rensselaer scored twice in the first 5:46 on its way to a 5-2 win over over host Yale before a sellout crowd of 3,486 at Ingalls Rink.
The score was not wholly indicative of the competitiveness of the contest, with RPI notching an empty netter in the waning seconds and the Bulldogs actually outshooting the Engineers 32-29. But Rensselear’s early lead pretty much dictated the flow of the game.
“Yale didn’t have an opportunity to get into a defensive mode, because they were behind early,” Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen said. “They have some guys who like to wheel and open it up, so it’s a bit tough to play that way, but we did a solid job defensively.”
Rensselaer’s first goal was a fluky one. At 3:13, Blake Pickett fired a shot from just inside the blueline that appeared to be heading to the center of the net where Eli netminder Dan Lombard was waiting for it, but a Yale skate was in its trajectory. The puck bounced off the Bulldog skate and veered sharply to the right past Lombard to put the visitors on top.
As the crowd was still filing in, Matt Murley took a pretty feed from blueliner Jim Vickers and fired a snapshot from deep in the right circle that was just out of Lombard’s reach to put RPI on top 2-0.
“We made some mistakes on the first two goals, but other than that, I thought we collectively played one of our hardest and best games tonight,” Yale head coach Tim Taylor said.
In fact, Yale seemed to kick things up a notch after the Murley score. Just over six minutes later, Yale found its way onto the scoreboard when Evan Wax took a Jeff Dwyer feed and broke free inside the left circle. The junior winger wristed a liner past Engineer goaltender Kevin Kurk to cut the lead to 2-1 at the 12:04 mark.
Kurk made 30 saves on the evening, in his first start in over a month. Despite occasional flurries of scoring chances for each squad, that score carried into first intermission.
Just like the first period, though, the Engineers recorded the first two scores of the second period. Chris Migliore weaved through traffic and fired in a point-blank shot at 5:30. Less than two minutes later, Rensselaer scored its fourth goal of the night when defenseman Scott Basiuk received a nice pass from Conrad Barnes at the top of the crease. Basiuk fired it over the stick of a sprawled Lombard to make the score 4-1.
Ryan Steeves answered for the Bulldogs just 2:57 later, firing a goal from deep in the left circle, decreasing Yale’s deficit to 4-2.
Then the defenses, and more specifically the goaltenders, took over, and the game was without another score until Carson Butterwick fired one on an empty net at 19:47 in the third.