TROY, N.Y. — A cardinal rule in hockey is never give up a goal in the last minute or the first minute of a period. RPI violated that rule twice, and it cost them against Union on Friday.
Joel Beal scored in the last minute of the second period to break a tie, and Scott Seney’s second goal of the game in the first minute of the third proved to be the game-winner as the Dutchmen took a 5-4 ECACHL victory at Houston Field House.
“It takes a lot of wind out of our sails right there,” said RPI forward Kevin Croxton, whose goal at 17:47 of the second period capped a two-goal rally that tied the score at 3-3. “You never want to do that, especially after we just scored.”
The Dutchmen (3-0 ECACHL, 4-5 overall), who are tied for first place with Vermont after their third straight win, ended a six-game winless skid against the Engineers (1-2, 5-4-1). It was just their third win ever at the Field House, and the first since a 5-4 overtime victory Nov. 20, 1998. The two teams meet again Saturday at 7 p.m., this time at Messa Rink.
Beal scored his first goal of the season with 40.8 seconds left in the second. Jordan Webb, who tied Chris Albert for second place on Union’s Division I all-time scoring list with 95 points, put a shot on net. Goalie Andrew Martin, who replaced starter Jordan Alford earlier in the period, couldn’t handle it. Beal poked it in.
“The one at the end of the period was big because they had gotten two goals back,” said Beal, who also had two assists. “Guys weren’t down on the bench, but we needed a lift.”
Seney, whose power-play tally at 6:29 of the second chased Alford from the game, scored his goal 37 seconds into the third period off a broken play. RPI defenseman Matt McNeely had blocked an Olivier Bouchard shot from the right side. But the puck trickled over to Seney on the left side, and he put it home. That goal ended up as the game-winner when Nick Economakos scored midway through the third.
“We come out of the [second] period up a goal, and we don’t want to sit back on our heels and let them take it to us,” Seney said. “That goal gave us a big lift, and let us take over play for a the first half of the period.”
On both goals, Beal and Seney were in the proper position for the rebounds.
“They were big, veteran plays,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “Both of them were little things that turned into big things for us. Both guys stopped at the net, and both guys found rebounds.”
Webb could have put the game away with 4:47 left, but Martin dove to his left to make a glove save. The Engineers carried the play after that, but couldn’t get the tying goal.
“I thought we did a real good job of coming back, even in the third period,” RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. “I thought that was our best period. We were all over them.”
Notebook – Webb scored his team-leading eighth goal in the first period. Casey Ftorek also scored in the first. It was the first collegiate goal for the son of Albany River Rats coach Robbie Ftorek. . . . McNeely and Andrew Lord had the other RPI goals. . . . It’s the second time Union has started league play 3-0 since joining the Division I ranks in 1991. The Dutchmen opened the 2000-01 season with three straight wins. They were 3-0-1 in their first four games.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.