TROY, N.Y. — A deflection off a skate here, a non-goal there, and the Colgate Raiders stole two points from the RPI Engineers at Houston Field House on Saturday, edging them 2-1.
After weathering a difficult second period when the Raiders were out-shot 19-2 but still managed to stay even on the scoreboard, Colgate’s conference-leading power play got a lucky bounce at 6:19 of the third. A centering pass from Kyle Wilson deflected off of Jesse Winchester’s skate and found plenty of open net to give the Raiders the lead.
“It’s a crazy game, you know?” said Colgate Head Coach Don Vaughan. “The puck bounces funny and sometimes it bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t. We got a couple of nice bounces tonight.”
Minutes later, the Engineers appeared to tie things up on a power play of their own. A blast from the right point by defenseman Keith MCWilliams appeared to go in the net. It bounced just inside the crossbar, off a pad on the top part of the net, and back out. The goal light, however, never went on and the officials allowed play to continue.
The crowd reacted angrily, and after the game, RPI Head Coach Dan Fridgen put it very succinctly: “That was no phantom. That was a goal. No question in my mind whatsoever.”
The missed call notwithstanding, the Engineers had plenty of offensive chances in the last two periods, but Raider goalie Mark Dekanich stood tall. He made 35 saves in the win, including 18 in the second, as RPI generated plenty of traffic in front of the net and peppered him with shots from the point. MCWilliams alone had six shots on goal in the second period.
Engineer captain Brad Farynuk gave his team the 1-0 lead at 6:34 of the second while on a two-man advantage. After he and MCWilliams were denied by Dekanich on point shots, Oren Eizenman recovered the puck in the right-wing corner and sent it to Farynuk at the point. Farynuk took a few strides toward the net and fired a shot that beat Dekanich to the stick side.
Farynuk was upbeat about the Engineer effort despite the loss.
“I think that we did a real good job of sustaining pressure for most of the second and most of the third period,” he said. “Give credit to the goaltender; I think he played a heck of a game.”
Colgate’s first goal, which Jon Smyth scored on a behind-the-net feed from Peter Bogdanich, also came on the power play. Three RPI penalty killers were fighting for the puck along the left-wing boards. When the puck popped free to Bogdanich, he had plenty of space to work the puck to Smyth.
Each Raider goal came with Engineer Mark Yurkewecz in the box for interfering with Dekanich. The first penalty was a high-sticking call that came while Yurkewecz fought for the rebound of a Reed Kipp shot, and the second was an obstruction-interference call.
RPI pulled Lange with just over a minute to go and had other chances to tie the game, but the Raiders held on and skated away with the victory despite being out-shot 36-18 and playing much of the game in their own end.
“We found a way to win, and that’s something we’ve done all year long,” said Vaughan.
The win gave Colgate a 14-6-2 conference mark (18-10-6 overall) and guaranteed them a tie for the regular-season ECACHL title. With Dartmouth’s victory over St. Lawrence, the Big Green will share the Cleary Cup with the Raiders. Dartmouth, however, holds the tiebreaker and will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Both teams will have next weekend off.
The Engineers (14-15-6 overall, 8-8-6 ECACHL) finished tied with travel partner Union for sixth place, but the Dutchmen hold the tiebreaker. RPI will host tenth-seeded Quinnipiac in an opening round, best-of-three series starting on Friday. In the regular season meetings between the teams, the Engineers won 4-2 at home in November, and the two teams skated to a 4-4 tie at Quinnipiac two weeks ago.