TROY, N.Y. — Maybe you have to be down by three in order to come back.
The Rensselaer Engineers trailed Connecticut, 4-1, with 10:15 to go in the third period and stormed back to salvage a 4-4 tie with the Huskies.
The Engineers scored three times, two of them coming from freshman Oren Eizenman, in a span of 4:41 to tie the game, and even had a chance to win minutes later, on the power play.
The Engineers began the comeback on the power play, their fifth of the evening, as Scott Basiuk blasted a shot from the blueline that was deflected by Eizenman. Despite protests by the Huskies that Eizenman’s stick was high, the goal counted.
Just 57 seconds later Eizenman raced out of the corner with the puck and tucked it between the legs of Husky goaltender Scott Tomes on the backhand.
“The seam opened up,” said Eizenman. “They made it easy for me to walk right there, it seemed like no one was paying attention to me. I walked up with a bad angle and he (Tomes) tried to pokecheck it and missed and it opened up his five-hole.”
The Engineers completed the comeback as the puck found its way into a scrum where C.J. Hanafin and Conrad Barnes banged away before Hanafin put it in past Tomes to tie the game.
The Engineers then received a power play late and missed a golden opportunity. Kirk MacDonald took a pass in the slot and shanked a one-timer wide of Tomes.
“A lot of missed opportunities,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “We weren’t real consistent with the pressure we needed to apply and when we did apply pressure, there was a difference. There wasn’t any magic there at all, we shortened the bench and the guys that we were going with made the difference and started doing the things we should have been doing.
“I felt that a couple of missed opportunities, like the one we missed at the end there and Yurkewecz going to net and going high — I mean, you get the opportunities and that’s all you can hope for.”
“We could have packed it in and we didn’t,” said UConn head coach Bruce Marshall. “We let them back in the game and we could have let them control the game, but we didn’t and that’s encouraging.”
The Engineers got the early lead just 52 seconds into the game as Ben Barr won a faceoff and Nick Economakos wristed a shot over the shoulder of Tomes.
After coming out of the locker room in the second period trailing by one goal, the Huskies took the lead with two goals in the span of 34 seconds. Eric St. Arnauld took a two-on-one feed and clanged one off the post. He got it back and put it across the crease, where it hit Engineer defenseman Alexander Valentin. The puck dropped in the crease and as Valentin and Engineer goalie Kevin Kurk tried to cover it up, Trevor Stewart gave the pile a whack and the puck went into the net.
34 seconds later the Huskies got another two-on-one as Eric Helstedt came down the right wing. He kept the puck and fired it through the small space between Kurk’s skate and right post.
“All I said to them was that we grew up that period, and let’s see if we can start taking some steps here, and they responded real well,” said Marshall of the second period.
The Huskies continued in the third with two more goals in the span of 45 seconds. After an Engineer turnover the Huskies had a low three-on-two and Brian Burns wound up snapping the puck past Kurk for the 3-1 lead.
The Huskies made it 4-1 as Cole Koidahl went high on Kurk with another low odd-man situation.
From there the Engineers came back and the Huskies hung on for the tie.
“We’re playing 12 freshmen so we’re a young hockey team,” said Marshall. “It would have helped if we could have clung onto the lead, but it’s the second game of the year and there’s going to be a learning curve with 12 freshmen. I’m happy with the tie, and hopefully we can learn from it.”
“You’re happy with the way certain guys stepped up because it was obvious that not every guy was going,” said Fridgen. “Those guys that stepped up, you have to credit them. Oren got his first two collegiate goals and took one of them to the hoop.
“I was happy with the way we battled back. We never packed it in and we kept coming and it shows that when they decided to play hard, they can get something going.”
“These are the games we’re going to have to win if we’re going to be successful,” said Eizenman. “We didn’t play a complete game so that’s disappointing. We should have played the way we played in instances. We can’t just go hard for 10 minutes and then not for 10 minutes.”
The Huskies (0-1-1) will head to Alabama-Huntsville for two games next weekend while the Engineers (0-2-1) host Army next Saturday.