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Turning Tide: Engineers Rally Past Friars

— Providence had Rensselaer 20 minutes away from another one-goal loss Wednesday. It would have dropped the Engineers to 0-7 in one-goal games this season.

But the Engineers found a way to end that slump in the third period.

Goals by forward Kevin Broad early in the third and defenseman Scott Romfo late in the period erased a 3-2 Providence lead and gave RPI a 4-3 non-league victory over the Friars at Houston Field House.

The triumph also ended three-game winless streak (0-2-1) for the Engineers (8-8-2), who got 23 saves from goalie Jordan Alford, including 11 in the third.

“I’m happy for everybody in the locker room,” RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. “We got [out of] the third period what we needed. We got some offense, and ‘Alfie’ made some big saves for us when we needed to.”

Certainly, there was a sense of relief for the players. RPI hadn’t won a one-goal game since a 3-2 overtime win March 6 against Princeton in the first round of the ECACHL tournament. The Engineers, who were 9-10 in one-goal games last season, lost to Dartmouth, 1-0, in Game 3 of the ECACHL quarterfinals.

“Hopefully, it’s a turning point,” Romfo said. “It’s finally good to turn the tables. It’s good, especially heading into [Christmas] break, and get some momentum hopefully.”

Fridgen didn’t sense any lack of confidence in his players as the one-goal losses mounted.

“I’ve been happy with the mental toughness they’ve shown through this difficult time because it’s not that we’ve been playing poorly,” Fridgen said. “We’ve playing some pretty good hockey. It’s finally nice to be rewarded with a victory.”

Jake Luthi, who scored in the first period, set up Broad’s goal at 2:40 of the third. He put a shot to the net that bounced off several skates before Broad backhanded the puck from the slot for his fifth goal of the year.

“I was coming down the right side, and I saw a couple of bodies driving the net,” Luthi said. “I put around the short side, and got some lucky bounces and it ended up in the goal.”

On the winning goal, Oren Eizenman drove to the net from the left wing. After getting the puck on net, Romfo came down the slot and fired the rebound past goalie David Cacciola for his first goal of the season.

“I jumped up because I was beating one of their forwards up the ice,” Romfo said. “Oren tried to go to the net, and the puck squirted out. I just shot it, and it went in.”

Notebook

Vic Pereira also scored for RPI. Kirk MacDonald, who missed an empty-net goal opportunity in the final minute, had two assists. MacDonald hasn’t scored a goal in nine games… . Chase Watson, Joe Rheault and Nate Meyers had the Providence goals… . RPI’s last regular-season one-goal victory came last Feb. 13 at Harvard, a 3-2 triumph… . The Engineers host 14th-ranked Boston University on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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

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