College Hockey:
Strange Bounces Help Rensselaer Past Sacred Heart

— There was something fluky about Rensselaer’s game Saturday against Sacred Heart.

Two of the goals the Engineers scored in their 3-0 victory over the Pioneers at Houston Field House weren’t conventional. One went off a helmet, the other off a Sacred Heart defender’s stick.

Naturally, the Engineers weren’t complaining about the way they scored the goals, just as long as they went in the net. That was about the only way they managed to get pucks past Sacred Heart goalie Jason Smith, who made 33 saves.

“It was good to be lucky, and lucky to be good, I guess,” said RPI forward Kevin Croxton, who had one of the Engineers’ strange goals. “They don’t ask how. We got the ‘W’ up there.”

It didn’t take long for RPI to score the game’s first goal. Nick Economakos kept a Sacred Heart clearing attempt inside the Pioneers’ zone at the blue line. He skated a couple of strides up the slot, and then took a shot.

Kirk MacDonald was standing in front of the net, and saw the puck coming toward his head. It struck his facemask, and landed past a startled Smith 28 seconds into the game.

“I guess that’s from soccer when I played as a little kid, because I headed that one into the net,” said MacDonald, who leads the Engineers (13-9-2) with 11 goals. “I had no idea [it went in]. I saw the puck hit me, and then the horn went.

“I’ll take it. I had no time to get out of the way.”

Croxton’s goal, scored late in the second period on the power play, was just as quirky.

The sophomore forward was behind the goal line to the left of the net when he tried to center a pass to MacDonald in the slot. Instead, the puck hit a Sacred Heart stick and rolled past Smith.

“‘Baz’ [Scott Basiuk] carried it in and cycled it down to MacDonald, who gave it to me,” Croxton said. “As soon as he gave it to me, he kind of backed in towards the net so he had position on their d-man. I tried to feed it to him, and I think [the defender] was on the ground and kind of swiped it in with his own stick. I asked MacDonald if he touched it, and he said no.”

If it weren’t for those goals, the two teams may have played a scoreless tie. And Ben Barr probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to score a shorthanded empty-net goal with 10.7 seconds left in the game.

RPI goalie Nathan Marsters made 18 saves to record his second straight shutout. He has a scoreless streak of 146:17. The team scoreless streak is 147:14, which includes the 57 seconds Marsters was pulled for an extra attacker in last Friday’s game at Colgate.

Smith had a stellar effort for the Pioneers (4-14-3), who are winless in 10 games. He robbed Oren Eizenman in front with a glove save on a rebound of a MacDonald shot with 7:15 left in the second period. Smith robbed Kevin Broad on a one-timer from the left of the net with 2:44 left in the game, catching the puck with his blocker.

“We had some other golden opportunities that should have been goals,” RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. “We had them both ways. We had the ones that were unexpected go in, and we had the ones that you thought were sure-cut goals … where they didn’t go in.”

Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.

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