TROY, N.Y. — Missed opportunities in the opening 10 minutes of the first period proved costly to Rensselaer Friday against Massachusetts-Lowell.
Led by Ben Walter’s four goals, the River Hawks overcame a shaky start to the game and beat the Engineers, 5-3, in a non-league game at Houston Field House.
The loss not only ended a four-game unbeaten streak for RPI (3-2-1), it denied Dan Fridgen his 187th career win. That would have made him the school’s all-time winningest hockey coach, surpassing Mike Addesa. Fridgen gets his second chance Saturday when RPI hosts Mercyhurst at 7 p.m.
“When it happens, it happens,” Fridgen said. “It’s something that’s not even on my mind right now.”
The Engineers dominated the first half of the opening period. They peppered goalie John Yaros with shot after shot. But they couldn’t get a puck past him.
Yaros, who left the game late in the third period with a cramp in his left leg, stopped a Nick Economakos shot from the slot during an RPI power play with 15:23 left in the first.
A few seconds later, Kirk MacDonald got a rebound of a Matt McNeely right-point shot and hit the post. Yaros also stopped two shorthanded bids by Chris Hussey and Jake Morissette midway through the period.
“It was pretty tough,” MacDonald said. “We came out real well in the first 10 minutes. Then they got a couple of power-play opportunities and buried them.”
Walter caught RPI goalie Jordan Alford looking the wrong way and scored a power-play goal at 12:15. Alford was watching the play to his right, and left the post open to his left when Elias Godoy sent the puck out to Walter from behind the net.
“It was one of those games where pucks were going in,” Walter said. “I had a couple of great plays from my teammates.”
That tally triggered a three-goal outburst in a 3:40 span. Andrew Martin scored an even-strength goal at 14:19, and Walter netted a power-play goal at 15:55.
Walter completed his hat trick 4:07 into the second period when he tipped a Godoy drive past Alford.
Keith MCWilliams got RPI on the board when he scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle with 3:17 left in the second. Third-period goals by Oren Eizenman and Kevin Broad pulled RPI to within 4-3, but Walters sealed the win for Mass.-Lowell (2-2) when he scored his fourth goal into an empty net with nine seconds left.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.