TROY, N.Y. — Kirk MacDonald and Rensselaer finally broke the tie against Connecticut.
MacDonald scored his first two goals of the season, powering the Engineers to a 4-1 nonconference victory Saturday over the Huskies before a crowd of 4,523 in their Houston Field House opener.
In winning their first game of the season, the Engineers (1-1-1) snapped their frustration with the pesky Huskies (0-2-1). The last two meetings have ended in ties — 4-4 in last year’s home opener, and 3-3 in Sunday’s consolation game of the Mutual of Omaha Stampede in Omaha, Neb.
“They play us really, really hard,” RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. “They have a team that doesn’t quit. We had a D-zone breakdown where we threw it up the middle of the ice, and they capitalized on it. Otherwise, I thought we played real well.”
The Engineers dominated the first period, outshooting the Huskies, 18-5, and keeping the puck in the UConn zone during their entire first power-play attempt. MacDonald missed on two golden scoring chances against goalie Brad Smith.
“The first one, I shot right through the crease,” MacDonald said. “I couldn’t believe I missed that one. I was pushing real hard to score. Maybe I was holding the stick a little too tight.”
MacDonald finally solved Smith on RPI’s third power play of the first, when he tipped in Matt McNeely’s right-point wrister at 12:31.
“That took a little weight off my shoulders,” MacDonald said.
The lead didn’t last long. Mike Neilon put a shot over goalie Jordan Alford’s right shoulder from in front of the net 2:10 later.
RPI snapped the tie with 39.5 seconds left in the second period. With the power-play unit still on the ice after Neilon finished serving a hooking penalty, a Kevin Croxton left-point shot deflected to the right side of the net. Brad Farynuk was there, and the junior defenseman put it past Smith.
MacDonald made it 3-1 4:28 into the third when his shot from along the left-wing corner hit Smith’s catching glove and went into the net.
“The coaches keep telling me to shoot the puck all the time,” MacDonald said. “I just got it from Brad [Farynuk], and a seam kind of opened up, so I just fired it. I don’t think their goalie was real ready for the shot from a weird angle.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.