Last year, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute needed a last-minute goal to beat Colgate in the inaugural Governor’s Cup tournament.
Late heroics were not needed this time in the rematch.
The Engineers scored twice in the first period, goalie Jordan Alford made it stand up and the Engineers repeated as Governor’s Cup champions with a 2-0 victory over the Raiders on Saturday at the Times Union Center.
RPI (5-2), winners of four straight, last won consecutive tournament titles in 1990 and 1991, when it captured its own tournament. Before winning last year’s Governor’s Cup, RPI hadn’t been victorious in a tournament since capturing the 2001 Rensselaer Holiday Tournament.
“Last year was a big moment,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “We hadn’t won a tournament, and everybody was in a celebratory mood, not only in the room, but people associated with our school because it had been the first championship in so long.
“As we spoke in the room after this game, while this should be celebrated, this will not and can not be the crowning achievement of our season. This is a steppingstone to much loftier goals that we have set for ourselves.”
Alford, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, made 21 saves. He hasn’t given up a goal in the three games he has played in the Capital Region this season. Alford earned shutout wins at Houston Field House over Bentley in the season opener Oct. 9, and last Saturday against Sacred Heart.
His Capital Region shutout streak is at 198 minutes, 42 seconds. The last goal he allowed in the area was by Yale’s Patrick Brosnihan at 19:56 of the second period Feb. 24 of last season, a 4-3 loss. He was pulled for an extra attacker for the final 1:22 of the game, and that time isn’t credited toward the streak.
“I like that,” Appert said. “Goalless in the Capital Region.”
Alford got plenty of support from his teammates; they blocked 22 shots.
“That’s 22 shots that don’t hit the net, and 22 shots I don’t have to worry about controlling the rebound,” Alford said. “That’s how dedicated the team is to blocking shots.”
When they weren’t blocking shots, the Engineers made it difficult for the Raiders (3-3) to get quality scoring chances.
“It was great team defense,” said Alford, who has four career shutouts. “The forwards came back real hard tonight. The [defensemen] stepped up on the blue line. When they step up on the blue line, it’s tough for teams.”
After collecting 12 points, all on assists, in his first 42 games, RPI sophomore defenseman Peter Merth scored his first collegiate goal. Taking a cross-ice pass from Paul Kerins, Merth skated from the right point to just inside the slot and fired a wrist shot past goalie Mark Dekanich at 7:28.
“It was a long time coming,” Merth said.
The Engineers made it 2-0 late in the first when Chase Polacek slid a pass to Andrei Uryadov on the right side as he was heading to the net. Dekanich got a piece of the puck, but it rolled to the goal line and stopped. Before Dekanich could get to the puck, Uryadov reached back and tapped it over the line.
Colgate coach Don Vaughan couldn’t find any fault with his team’s effort.
“I thought we played a very good game,” Vaughan said. “We did a lot of the things we wanted to do. We had good puck-possession time in their zone. You’ve got to give [RPI] credit. They’re playing a real explosive game.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for the The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.