TROY, N.Y. — Yale saw five different players score as the Bulldogs went on to defeat Rensselaer, 5-3. Each time the Engineers got close to the Bulldogs, the Bulldogs would pull away.
With the victory, Yale improved to 16-9-0 overall and 12-6-0 in the ECAC. The Bulldogs remain in third place in the league standings with 24 points. The Engineers fall to 9-20-3 overall and 3-12-3 in the league. They are in 11th place in the ECAC with nine points.
The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the first period when freshman Christian Jensen scored on a wrist shot from between the circles. Junior center Ryan Steeves won the faceoff back to Jensen, who skated to the middle of the ice and tallied his 13th of the season at the 18:23 mark.
Yale quickly increased its lead to 3-0 with two goals in the early stages of the second. Steeves scored his 13th of the season when he converted a 2-on-1 with sophomore Christopher Higgins at the 5:31 mark.
Higgins then set up the Bulldogs’ third goal just 56 seconds after their second. This time, Nick Deschenes scored his eighth of the year. Higgins went behind the net and quickly fed Deschenes, and his one-timer beat Nathan Marsters five-hole.
RPI pulled within one with a pair of power-play goals later in the second. The Engineers’ first goal came from sophomore Nick Economakos, who scored on a rebound of a Matt McNeely shot at 10:13.
RPI made it 3-2 when Kevin Croxton scored on a rebound his team-leading 13th goal of the season of a Scott Basiuk shot at 15:53 of the second. Croxton took three whacks the puck while standing at the far post before his third shot went in past Josh Gartner.
In the third period the Bulldogs regained their two-goal margin when senior captain Dennis Nam skated down the middle and scored on a wrist shot. Nam skated through two Engineers before wristing a shot over Marsters.
The Engineers made it 4-3 when Kirk MacDonald scored under the crossbar from just outside the crease.
Yale’s Joe Zappala scored from the bottom of the left faceoff circle with a snap-wrister four minutes later to give the visitors a 5-3 lead. Zappala’s goal, which was set up by Zachary Mayer, chased Marsters.
“We got timely goals — we got the first goal of the game and then Nam’s goal in the third was a huge, huge goal. Then they came back within one and Joe Zappala notched one,” said Yale coach Tim Taylor. “It’s great to see those lines producing; we’ve gotten so much from the Higgins and Steeves line that those lines came through with those goals. When people have challenged our lead, we’ve come back and gotten those goals all year long.”
Gartner earned the win by stopping 22 shots while Marsters finished with 24 saves in the loss. Kevin Kurk, who played the final half of the third period for RPI, made three stops.
“I thought we had a nice first period and when we got ahead 3-0 and they got on the power play, we lost our composure,” said Taylor. “They bottled us up and made us look bad, they got momentum from that and they got back in the game.
“We let the calls get to us and we got distracted. I thought it was absolutely necessary and a challenge to get focused in the third period and play a workmanlike third period, and we did.
“I don’t know how many games RPI has won, but that’s the best 11th-place team I have ever seen. They skate well, play hard and it will be an interesting playoff situation.”
“There’s been a lot of games right now where we’re just so close, we’re knocking on the door,” said Engineer coach Dan Fridgen. “Winning is a process. You have to learn how to win and that takes experience, and I believe it will make us stronger as a team.”
The Engineers will be on the road next weekend facing Cornell on Friday night and Colgate on Saturday. Both games begin at 7 p.m. Yale travels to the North Country to play Clarkson and St. Lawrence on Friday and Saturday nights at 7.
“There’s eight points still out there,” said Taylor. “Who knows what’s going to happen? Every weekend we gain confidence.”