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College Hockey:
New-Look Engineers Battle To Draw With Terriers

— In his introductory press conference in April, new Rensselaer coach Seth Appert promised that the Engineers would play an up-tempo style.

Appert delivered on that promise Saturday against third-ranked Boston University in the season opener for both teams. The Engineers skated hard, were creative offensively and had some excellent scoring chances.

The unfortunate part for RPI is that it didn’t translate into a victory. The Terriers rallied from a 3-1 first-period deficit to earn a 4-4 tie before a frenzied sellout crowd of 5,152 at Houston Field House.

“We played how we wanted to play,” said Appert, who replaced Dan Fridgen. “We were aggressive, we were up-tempo, we attacked, defensemen were active in the play, we took calculated risks and we made some mistakes, but that happens. I thought, in terms of how we want to be a team [and] how we want to be about, I thought we did a great job and, more importantly, a belief that they have in each other, especially after being scored on right away.”

The Terriers took the lead 55 seconds into the game when Brandon Yip beat goalie Mathias Lange. But Tyler Eaves got that one back for RPI 20 seconds later.

Just over a minute after that, Jake Morissette picked up the puck after it went off the skate of Kirk MacDonald, who was making his return after battling testicular cancer last year, and fired it past goalie John Curry. MacDonald got another assist when Jake Luthi scored a power-play goal late in the period.

“It was the longest pregame I ever had today,” MacDonald said. “I’ve been up since the break of dawn, just sitting around thinking about. It’s good to get it over with. It was a lot of fun. It was a great atmosphere.”

It wasn’t so good for BU coach Jack Parker, who saw his team outshot, 15-4, in the first period, and get called for six penalties for 23 minutes, including a major and game misconduct to defenseman Brian Strait for hitting from behind.

“We were embarrassed with what they did to us in the first period,” Parker said. “We were outshot, … and kept the puck in our end. They were all over us.”

Chris Higgins started the comeback, scoring a power-play goal with 7:28 left in the second period. Steve Smolinsky tied it 4:38 into the third.

The Engineers regained the advantage on Oren Eizenman’s power-play goal with 7:32 remaining in the period. But Higgins tied it 1:18 later.

RPI almost won it late in the third on some nice passing between Eaves, Jonathan Ornelas and Kevin Broad on a three-on-two rush. Ornelas, who had three assists in the game, sent a pass from the right side of the net to Eaves on the left. Only Curry’s pad prevented Eaves from scoring his second goal of the game.

“I thought that was great,” Appert said. “The creativity, the confidence and the willingness to try to make a great play, not just the safe play and take the outside lane shot, we were extremely pleased with that.”

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

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