TROY, N.Y. — Rensselaer senior forward Nick Economakos sat out last weekend’s games at Vermont and Dartmouth because he and two other players were caught drinking on the bus coming home from the Clarkson-St. Lawrence trip the previous weekend.
Economakos returned to the lineup Saturday against Holy Cross, and made amends for his mistake.
The co-captain collected RPI’s first hat trick in three years, leading the Engineers to an 8-4 non-league college hockey victory at Houston Field House that ended a five-game home-ice losing streak.
The last RPI player to score three goals in game was Matt Murley, who did it against Union on Jan. 16, 2002. Economakos, along with senior defensemen Matt McNeely and Blake Pickett, were penalized for their actions. They weren’t allowed to practice, or travel with the team.
“I thought there was a lot of things made public that shed a little bad light on the team,” said Economakos, who has 10 goals on the season, matching his career high of last season.
“It was great to have a nice win tonight, and just get back on track in the winning column, especially at home, a place where we’ve struggled lately. We had a lot of energy, which is vital for the rest of league play.”
Economakos played an important role in RPI’s first North Country sweep in 20 years, scoring a goal in each game. Without him last weekend, RPI was swept.
RPI coach Dan Fridgen was happy with Economakos’ performance.
“I’m sure he’s pleased with that kind of an effort,” Fridgen said. “There’s been a little bit of a time there where he hadn’t been scoring, and then he picked it up in the Clarkson-St. Lawrence weekend. It’s as I expected. I expected him to come back and pick up right where he had left off.”
Economakos scored his first two goals on the power play. On the first one, he was open at the right side of the net when he one-timed a Kevin Croxton feed past goalie Ben Conway at 12:14 of the second period, giving RPI (12-16-2) a 3-2 lead.
After Oren Eizenman made it 4-2 40 seconds later, Economakos gave RPI a three-goal advantage when he scored from the same spot just as the end-of-period horn sounded, although it appeared that the puck may have gone in after time expired.
“I had a pretty good view on that one,” Economakos said. “The puck was definitely in the net before the buzzer went off.”
James Sixsmith’s second goal of the game cut RPI’s lead to 5-3 at 4:43 of the third. But Economakos restored the three-goal cushion 31 seconds later, putting the rebound of a Kirk MacDonald shot past Tony Quesada, who replaced Conway at the start of the third.
“It definitely shows what kind of person he is,” RPI defenseman and co-captain Brad Farynuk said. “He’s still a leader on this team, no matter what anybody says or how they say it. It was a humongous effort.”
NOTEBOOK: MacDonald, Cody Wojdyla, Jake Luthi and Jonathan Ornelas had
the other RPI goals. Wojdyla scored his while RPI was shorthanded at 5:50 of the second period to tie the score, 2-2. … MacDonald added two assists, while Croxton and Farynuk had three assists each. Pickett also returned to the lineup, but McNeely was a healthy scratch. … Sixsmith had two goals and two assists to lead Holy Cross (12-9-5). RPI returns to ECACHL play next weekend, hosting Harvard on Friday and Brown on Saturday. The Brown game will be the annual Big Red Freakout, and the RPI’s 1985 national championship team will be honored. … Holy Cross goes back to Atlantic Hockey play on Friday, hosting
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in