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College Hockey:
Third-Period Dustup Carries Rensselaer Past Northeastern

— So much for a goaltending duel.

Through two periods of Tuesday night’s non-conference contest between Rensselaer and host Northeastern, RPI goalie Jordan Alford and NU backstop Keni Gibson had stopped 17 and 14 shots, respectively, as the Engineers held a 2-1 edge.

Then things got downright offensive.

After the dust and eight third-period tallies cleared, RPI (2-1-1) left a sparsely populated Matthews Arena with an impressive 7-4 victory.

Things started off innocently enough in the third. Northeastern killed off the remaining 1:16 of a Bryan Cirullo roughing penalty, and moments later Husky senior captain hit sophomore Aaron Moore on a backdoor pass, on which Alford made a sprawling pad save.

That’s when the starting gun went off.

  • 14:10 remaining, third period: NU sophomore Ray Ortiz walked out of the corner and threw a blind backhand on net, redirecting off Alford’s pad and in.
  • 11:28, third period: Engineer junior Kevin Croxton threw the puck to the net, where it found junior Kirk MacDonald. MacDonald pulled the puck to his forehand unmolested and spotted a wrister to Gibson’s left.
  • 8:18, third period: A Chris Hussey point shot popped into the air off Gibson’s right shoulder. With the netminder turned around, unable to locate the puck, freshman Jonathan Ornelas swatted it into the net for a 4-2 RPI lead.
  • 5:41, third period: The 6-2, 210-pound MacDonald carried the puck over the line and sent a pinpoint wrist shot off the right post and behind Gibson for a three-goal edge.
  • 3:56, third period: After a Northeastern shot rang off the post, NU junior Mike Morris scored his second goal of the game and fourth of the year.
  • 3:23, third period: Guerriero picked up a loose puck in the slot, waited and blasted a slap shot through a crowd and past Alford.
  • :51, third period: After a Northeastern timeout, RPI controlled the puck off a faceoff in its own zone and chipped it out to neutral ice, where Croxton skated it safely into the Huskies’ empty net.
  • :05, third period: Junior Mark Yurkewecz added another empty-net, insurance tally for the Engineers on a wrist shot from the boards near the RPI bench.

    Whew.

    “I thought we let them off the hook and let them get back in the game, and give them a lot of credit. They didn’t stop,” RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. “They just kept coming at us.”

    Despite outshooting its opponent for the third straight game, Northeastern lost for the third straight time, falling to 1-3 after upsetting then top-ranked Michigan on Oct. 8.

    “Our biggest problem is our shot selection,” Husky coach Bruce Crowder said. “We try to make everything look perfect. We try to make sure the goalie is out of the net. We’ve got to score ugly goals — a little bit like Ortiz. We tried to talk to the guys and that’s how he scored. He turned and threw it to the net.

    “I really think in a lot of ways I think we controlled the offensive end for a long period of time but for the most part I think it was RPI’s kind of ‘rope-a-dope,’ giving us the space and we skated and we don’t shoot,” he said. “There’s no harm done.”

    Northeastern’s penalty-killing woes also continued, giving up three power play goals in seven chances. For the season, Northeastern has killed just 23 of 33 shorthanded situations.

    Nick Economakos scored the game’s first goal, a power-play strike for RPI just 1:06 into the first period. The senior picked up the rebound of a Brad Farynuk shot and deposited it for RPI’s first lead.

    Although Morris’ first goal of the game tied the score at the 2:55 mark of the second period, RPI never trailed. The junior has scored in every game this season, with four goals and three assists. Guerriero has also notched a point in every contest this year and has a nine-game scoring streak dating back to last season.

    With four minutes left in the second period, Engineer freshman Andrew Lord gave RPI its 2-1 second intermission edge with an even strength marker assisted by Hussey.

    Northeastern travels to Colgate Saturday for a 7 p.m. tilt, while RPI visits Army Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.

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