TROY, N.Y. — It keeps getting better for Union, worse for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Mario Valery-Trabucco had two goals and one assist, T.J. Fox added a goal and two assists and goalie Justin Mrazek made 24 saves as the Dutchmen once again blasted the Engineers, 5-0, Friday at Houston Field House.
The win moved Union (3-6, 10-9-2) ahead of RPI (1-5-3, 5-10-6) in the ECACHL standings. The 11th-place Dutchmen, who are 5-2 in their last seven, have a one-point lead over the last-place Engineers, who have lost five straight and are 1-9-3 in their last 13.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “Credit to Union, their best players outplayed our best players tonight. There’s no other way around it. We came out and played a good game. We played the way we wanted to play. We created offensive chances. We limited their offensive chances. We created power-play opportunities. For the most part, we played a good game. In big situations, you best players have to outplay your opponent’s best players.”
“Union’s top players made a lot of plays. Their goaltender was outstanding, and made a lot of big-time saves at 0-0, 1-0 and 2-0, that really put the momentum in their hands.”
Union continued its dominance in the series. It is 5-0-2 in the last seven games with RPI, and it comes two weeks after a 5-1 win at Vermont’s Catamount Cup. The two teams meet again tonight at 7 at Messa Rink.
“We’ve caught a little bit of a hot streak,” Fox said. “It’s always a hard-fought battle every time we play them. We just came out on top.”
It was the Dutchmen’s largest margin of victory over the Engineers since a 7-0 triumph
Feb. 23, 1924. It is the third time Union has shut out RPI, but the first time in ECACHL play.
Despite that, Union coach Nate Leaman thought his team didn’t dominate the game. That could be because the shots were nearly even Union had a 25-24 advantage and RPI had 10 power plays.
“The shots were pretty indicative of how the game was,” Leaman said. “I thought it was a close game. I thought their power play was very good. We were fortunate to get the penalty kill going and keep them off the board, but I can guarantee you that won’t happen [tonight]. They’re a good team on the power play.”
Leaman hadn’t seen the final stats when he made that comment. Despite the 10 power plays, including a pair of two-man advantages, the Engineers had only five shots on goal.
RPI looked hesitant to shoot. When the Engineers did fire the puck, they were either blocked by the penalty killers, or Mrazek stopped them.
“Union does a good job of taking away the passing lanes,” RPI forward Kirk MacDonald said. “When we had the lane to shoot, we were so worried that they were going to block the shot, and we end up not shooting. We’ve got to get pucks on net.”
Fox got the Dutchmen going just past the midway through first period. Just after he finished serving a holding the stick penalty, he skated down the slot and redirected a Torren Delforte pass past goalie Mathias Lange.
For the 16th time this season, RPI gave up the game’s first goal.
“We have a pretty decent record when we get the first goal,” Fox said. “It was a big momentum boost for us.”
Delforte made it 2-0 5:40 into the second period when he ripped a shot from the right circle over Lange’s glove. Mike Schreiber got a power-play goal with 6:27 left in the second. Valery-Trabucco got his goals, both on power plays, in the third.
Mrazek earned his second shutout this season.
“It feels great,” Mrazek said. “Our [defense] again has been the story of the past few weekends. They played solid, and it makes my job easier.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.