HAMILTON, N.Y. — “A tie is like kissing your sister” the popular proverb goes, and though both Colgate’s and Rensselaer’s players and coaches agreed that it was a good game, neither side was fully satisfied with the result of Friday night’s outcome.
Colgate (6-2-2, 3-1-1 ECACHL) hosted league rival RPI (6-4-2, 2-1-2), which concluded in a fiercely fought 1-1 tie. Colgate was hoping to continue its seven-game win streak against the Engineers, while building on last week’s split with Dartmouth and Harvard. Meanwhile, RPI, sixth in the ECAC standings, looked to carry its two consecutive league wins into Starr Rink and boost its position against its first-ranked ECAC opponent.
The game started with an exciting three-on-one opportunity for RPI which Raiders goalie Mark Dekanich stoned cold by sliding quickly from one side of the net to stop the one-timer on the other. The save from Dekanich, who was recovering from sickness and a shaky 6-4 loss against the Crimson in which he was pulled halfway through the game, set the tone for the quick-paced game.
The Raiders opened up the scoring 8:01 into the first period on the power play. Matt Angers-Goulet committed his fourth penalty of the season for hooking, and the Raiders took advantage of it. Colgate, ranked fourth nationally and second in the ECAC on the power play, worked the puck meticulously around the perimeter starting from the drop of the puck in the RPI zone.
Eventually, Jesse Winchester shot a pass to Nick St. Pierre down low. As St. Pierre crossed behind the net, he found Tyler Burton standing alone on the doorstep. Burton netted the puck on the near-side under the glove of Matthias Lange for his eighth of the season, extending his point streak to seven games.
“Tyler was around the puck a lot tonight,” said Raiders head coach Don Vaughan. “If you give him an opportunity, more often than not he’s going to take advantage of it.”
The goal put wind in Colgate’s offensive sails, but the Engineer freshman goaltender wasn’t swayed. Lange, coming off being named the ECAC’s Rookie of the Week, stood tall, not allowing another goal for the rest of the game and amassing 27 saves for the evening.
Offensive momentum went back and forth as power-play chances went to both teams pretty evenly, but nothing went on the scoreboard until the last minute of the second period. RPI stayed within one goal until it scored on a misplay by Raiders netminder Mark Dekanich.
“No one said anything,” said the sophomore goaltender, “and when no one yells out, I just leave the puck, assuming a defenseman’s there to pick it up.”
It turned out that an Engineer forechecker was hot on his tail, and forced Dekanich to turn the puck over. RPI’s Scott Romfo gathered the stolen puck at the point and fired a shot that was blocked right onto the blade of Oren Eizenman. Eizenman, tied for third in the ECAC for overall points per game with 1.45, notched his seventh of the season as he floated a shot through the ruckus of bodies screening Dekanich. The puck slipped through the goaltender’s pads, leveling the score.
Again, though each team found its fair share of time on the man-advantage, including power-play opportunities in overtime as well, neither could capitalize, and the score remained 1-1 through the end of regulation and overtime. Dekanich edged Lange in the save department, finishing with 30.
Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen, Colgate grad of ’82, had a few choice words to say about the officiating after the game. “I disagreed with the penalty [to Kevin Croxton] at the end of the game, especially because he was getting roughed up all night and nothing was getting called. I thought that situation took us out of the game.”
Captain Croxton, who leads the league in total points per game (1.64), reaffirmed his coach’s position even more vehemently. “It was embarrassing, but it comes with the game. You have to play hard even when you don’t know how the whistles are going to blow.”
Vaughan disagreed with these assessments, stating, “The officiating went back and forth, which is the way games have been called all year. In the end, they had seven [power plays] and we had eight.”
“At the end of the day, we didn’t capitalize on all of our chances,” Vaughan said. “Overall I was pleased with how we played, and RPI played hard on the road. The three penalties in a row in the second period hurt us.”
RPI’s head coach was also satisfied with how his own players faired.
“We played well from the ten-minute mark of the first period on. I thought we did the little things well – hitting, goaltending, good communicating, etc.”
After the game, Dekanich responded to a question about his like or dislike of ties and whether he would prefer shootouts, saying, “I don’t mind a tie. I would rather win, but losing in OT kills a team. However, I wouldn’t mind shootouts.”
Tomorrow the Raiders will take on Union in the afternoon at 4 p.m., while RPI faces the Cornell Big Red at 7 p.m.