ALBANY, N.Y. — Controlling the play doesn’t always mean success.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute had plenty of scoring chances in the opening period of its Governor’s Cup semifinal game against Union, but the Dutchmen had the lead. They had control of the play in the second period but were outscored.
That lack of productivity would ultimately doom the Dutchmen and propel the Engineers into the Cup final for the second straight year.
Andrew Lord capped a three-goal RPI second period — when the teams combined for four goals in less than two minutes — by scoring on a 3-on-1 rush, snapping a 2-2 tie and lifting the Engineers to a 3-2 win over the Dutchmen on Friday at the Times Union Center.
“I thought we outplayed them in the first, and they were up, 1-0,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “They outplayed us in the second, and we won that period, 3-1. I thought the third was pretty even. It was interesting how who was carrying the play didn’t actually dictate what happened on the scoreboard.”
RPI (4-2), winners of three straight, will face Colgate in a rematch of last year’s Cup final Saturday at 7 p.m. The Engineers won that game, 2-1. They later lost to the Raiders in the first round of the ECAC Hockey tournament.
“They probably want revenge, so to speak, for the championship last year,” Appert said. “We like to get back at them for knocking us out of the playoffs.”
The Engineers had a 9-4 shot advantage in the opening period. But it was the Dutchmen (2-1) who had a 1-0 lead, thanks to Luke Cain’s first goal of the season 1:39 into the contest. Cain was behind the goal line to the right of the net when he banked the puck off goalie Mathias Lange’s stick and into the net.
“I try to go to the net hard, and hope it goes into the net,” Cain said. “There’s nothing pretty about what I do.”
The score remained that way until just over seven minutes into the second period, when RPI forward Jonathan Ornelas went one-on-one with Union defenseman Lane Caffaro. Ornelas had a step on Caffaro, then hesitated for a split second. Ornelas watched Caffaro skated by, and then beat goalie Justin Mrazek with a wrist shot.
“I made it look like I was going to take him wide, and I cut back to the middle,” Ornelas said. “He was already committed to going wide. I caught the goalie moving.”
The goal triggered an outburst that saw three goals scored in 49 seconds, and four in 1:49.
Sam Bowles scored his first goal since Oct. 28, 2005, when he put in the rebound of a Brendan Milnamow left-point shot past Lange at 7:38, giving Union a 2-1 lead. But 13 seconds later, Tyler Helfrich beat Mrazek to tie it.
A minute after that, Erik Burgdoerfer fed a pass to Ornelas, creating a three-on-one break. Ornelas, skating down the left wing, sent the puck to Lord on the right, and he buried it behind Mrazek.
“Jon made a great pass to me after he drove wide,” Lord said. “Scott Halpern created most of it by driving the net, and he backed off their middle D-man, so I was able to drive to the right of him at the far post. I was able to bang it in there.”
Union, who will face St. Lawrence in the 4 p.m. consolation game, outshot RPI, 14-6, in the second. After Lord’s goal, the Dutchmen had the better of the scoring chances. But Lange was strong, and that continued into the third period. He finished with 28 saves.
“I thought that was the difference in the game,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “I thought we controlled the puck the whole game. I thought we played the game we wanted to play. I thought we out chanced them the whole game. We didn’t finish. That’s part of the game. You have to put it in back of the net.
“Give Lange a lot of credit. He made some big stops there. In the second period, he must have stopped five or six point-blank shots. I’m actually pretty happy about the way we play, but we didn’t finish. That’s the only thing we didn’t do good tonight.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for the The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.