TROY, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute coach Seth Appert said, with a straight face, that tonight’s game against Yale is all about the six seniors who will play their final regular-season home game at Houston Field House.
But the game has more meaning than that for the Engineers.
RPI kept its hopes for home ice in the first round of the ECACHL tournament next weekend with a wild 6-5 victory over Brown.
The Engineers (6-10-5 ECACHL, 10-15-8 overall) moved into a tie for the eighth and final home-ice spot with Colgate, which dropped a 4-1 decision at Harvard. An RPI win or tie and a Colgate loss at Dartmouth gives the Engineers home ice for the second straight year.
“The standings are important. Winning and trying to move up is important,” Appert said. “But [tonight's] a special night for our seniors, the six young men that really care about this program and helped our new staff immensely in the transition.”
One of those seniors, forward Kirk MacDonald, knows how important tonight’s game is for the team.
“It’s a playoff game,” said MacDonald, who had two goals and an assist and recorded his 100th career point. “We’ve been saying that for a while. It’s the difference between being on the road or [having] home ice next weekend. We all know what’s at stake. The senior stuff is all nice and good, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win.”
RPI survived a game in which it gave up two short-handed goals, nearly wasted a three-goal third-period lead and held on for dear life as Brown (5-12-4, 9-13-6) kept the puck in the Engineers’ zone for nearly the last three minutes of the game.
“Up-and-down hockey is our preferred style,” Appert said. “Brown likes to play that way, and they have a lot of skill up front, especially up front. It was a crazy game. It got a little too much that way. Our puck decisions, especially by our defensive corps in the third period, just weren’t good enough. We let them back in the game.”
Seth Klerer, Erik Burgdoerfer, Garett Vassel and Kevin Broad scored for RPI. Oren Eizenman had two assists.
Jeff Prough scored twice for Brown, including one short-handed.
Sean Dersch had the other short-handed goal at 7:16 of the first period, but it took a while for the goal to be awarded. Dersch’s shot hit under the back bar and came right out. The red light went on, but play continued for another 20 seconds. After a stoppage, referee Frank Murphy consulted with his assistant referees and the goal judge before awarding the goal.
Chris Poli and Sean McMonagle had the other Brown goals.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.