PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Coming off of a tough matchup with Boston University, Rensselaer headed to Providence on Sunday for the back end of a Hockey East Weekend. Game-tested and ready, the Engineers challenged the Friars early and often, but Providence was able to survive its first battle of the year, skating to a 5-2 victory at Schneider Arena.
Down by a goal to open the third period, RPI seemed to have scored the equalizer on a scrum in front of the net. The ruling on the ice, however, was that the net had been dislodged before the Engineers were able to swat a bouncing puck into the back of the goal.
Providence capitalized on the deflating effect the call had on the Engineers’ comeback efforts. Just minutes later, Nate Meyers added his first goal of the year to put the Friars ahead 4-2. The opportunistic fourth-liner pounced on a loose puck in the low slot, firing a low slapshot just between RPI goaltender Nathan Marsters and the left post.
Although the game was seemingly in hand with just five minutes to play, Eric Lundberg was whistled for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind, giving the Engineers a man advantage for the rest of the contest.
Providence, despite allowing two power play goals, was able to buckle down in the time that it most desperately needed in order to keep the lead.
“I have to give our penalty kill credit,” said Providence coach Paul Pooley. “We skated 8 forwards on that kill, and all but one of them are inexperienced in that situation.
“I guess there’s no better test for a young season than being forced to kill a major penalty with 5:05 left in the game.”
Co-captain Stephen Wood was able to pick off an errant breakout pass and deposit the puck into the empty net to ice the game for the Friars.
Despite the win, it was an uphill battle for Providence.
Kirk MacDonald opened the scoring for the Engineers, burying RPI’s first scoring chance at 7:15 of the first period. The sophomore winger stuffed a centering pass through Providence netminder Bobby Goepfert’s stacked pads on the power play.
The Friars answered with two goals to end the first period, the last coming with just three seconds left to play.
Peter Zingoni continued a strong start for the Friars, netting his fourth goal in just two games. Fellow seniors Jonathan Goodwin and co-captain Cody Loughlean also kept pace, adding a point each.
Goepfert, who remained relatively untested on the young season, made the stops necessary for the win. His best save of the night came at 6:06 of the third period when he denied RPI’s best attempt at a late surge, stopping a clean breakaway with a sharp glove hand. He improves to 2-0 with tonight’s 24-save effort.
On the other side, Marsters took his second loss in as many nights, allowing 4 goals on 27 shots.
“We needed to play smarter hockey,” said RPI coach Dan Fridgen. “For the second night in a row defensive breakdowns lead to off-man chances and easy goals for our opponent. I wish we were able to score easy goals like that.”
He does, however, remain optimistic that the season holds a lot for the Engineers. “I also told my guys that I was proud of them for the way that they handled things this weekend. It was a tough weekend.”
Providence will hope to continue its winning ways on the road at Minnesota State, while RPI will play host to two Atlantic Hockey teams, Connecticut and Army, over the next two weeks.