College Hockey:
RPI Falters Early, Stages Big Comeback for Win

— The Rensselaer Engineers gave up four first-period goals to Northeastern but came back to score five in the second period and then broke a 5-5 tie in the third period to defeat the Huskies, 7-5.

The Engineers took the 5-4 lead into the third period, but Matt Uusivirta fired a rocket past Engineer goaltender Jordan Alford at 14:54 to tie the game up at 5-5.

It took the Engineers less than a minute to retake the lead. Forty-four seconds after Uusivirta’s goal, Scott Romfo’s point shot was deflected by Jonathan Ornelas past Geragosian.

The Engineers would then withstand a Northeastern power play with less than four minutes to go before Kevin Croxton added an empty-net goal for the final score of 7-5.

“You dig a hole in the first period and allow four goals to be scored, to come back and get five in the next period is certainly an uphill battle,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “We accomplished it and did what we had to do. It’s not going to happen a lot, you’re not going to win a lot of hockey games playing only 40 minutes.”

The Huskies jumped on the board quickly in the first period when Jimmy Russo picked up an errant puck and put it towards Engineer goalie Mathias Lange. Lange misjudged it and it went right past him for the 1-0 Husky lead.

Joe Vitale made it 2-0 just 2:42 later with his first goal of the season and then Matt Uusivirta made it 3-0 when he picked up his own rebound and quickly snapped it past Lange.

A five-on-three power-play goal with 46 seconds left in the period gave Northeastern the 4-0 lead. Jimmy Russo received the pass at the top of the right circle from Brian Swiniarski and wrested it past a screened Lange.

Lange would be replaced by Jordan Alford at the beginning of the second period.

“It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we weren’t on our game in the first period,” said Fridgen. “We were just standing around watching them. I was surprised that nobody fell coming into the locker room after the first because they should have been dizzy.”

The Engineers would answer with five goals in the second period.

Ornelas opened it up in the second with a five-on-three power-play goal. That was quickly followed by a Chris Hussey four-on-four goal. The Engineers would cut the lead to one goal with a goal by Jake Morissette. Morissette was left alone in front of the net and put the puck on the post, but the rebound came right back to him and he put it past Adam Geragosian.

The Engineers tied it just as a penalty to them expired. After Scott Romfo got out of the box, Oren Eizenman came off the Engineer bench as the puck was cleared from the Engineer zone. He took the puck in, got a shot off and took his own rebound. He quickly passed it to Croxton who sent it right back to him and Eizenman put it in the open net.

“I was originally going to shoot the puck, but I saw Oren at the backdoor,” said Croxton. “Oren did what he was supposed to do and I sent it over to him.”

The Engineers would take the lead with less than a second left in the period. Croxton fed it to Brad Farynuk, who fired. His shot deflected and rose in the air over the glove of Geragosian.

“It was important to get that first goal in the second,” said Fridgen. “Then we just followed it up from there.”

“We were trying to stay positive sitting on the bench, that’s all you can do,” said Croxton, who tallied a goal and four assists. “I told the guys, ‘All we need is one’, and they took a couple of penalties early on and we were able to tap one in and that’s all we needed.”

The Engineers (4-2-0) now have a four-game winning streak and will host Merrimack on Saturday evening. The Huskies remain winless (0-3-1) and will host the US Under-18 Team on Sunday.

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