TROY, N.Y. — For just over 59 minutes, Yale goalie Billy Blase and the Bulldogs’ defense frustrated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
But there was just enough time for Jake Morissette to change the complexion of the Engineers’ mood.
Morissette batted a rebound past Blase with 46 seconds left in regulation, helping the 17th ranked Engineers escape with a 1-1 ECAC Hockey overtime tie on Black Friday jersey night at Houston Field House.
The Engineers (0-0-1 ECACH, 5-2-1 overall) are unbeaten five straight (4-0-1), and improved to 4-0-1 in Black Friday games.
It took some patience and luck for that to happen.
With goalie Mathias Lange pulled for an extra attacker, defenseman Peter Merth took a shot from the right point. It was blocked near the net and came out in the slot. The puck was bouncing as it came to Morissette.
“It was on end,” Morissette said. “I just wanted to put it on net.”
Morissette not only put on net, he put it in the net. It got in high past Blase’s glove. Blase never saw the puck go past him.
RPI coach Seth Appert credited Merth with making the key play.
“Peter Merth made a heck of an offensive play at the blue line to fake a shot, and then to change the angle and find a way to get that puck to the front of the net,” Appert said. “Jake Morissette won a puck battle.”
It was the only blemish for Blase and the Yale defense. Blase made 31 saves, and Yale’s defense blocked 26 shots.
“We play a defense similar to the way RPI does,” Yale coach Keith Allain said. “We’re not necessarily one-on-one in our zone, we get a little bit of help. A lot of it is based on body position, and keeping the people between the puck and the net. We were good at it tonight, as was RPI.”
Yale (0-0-1, 1-1-1) had a goal waved off with 2:08 left in the first period when Broc Little was called for kicking the puck past Lange. The Bulldogs got one that counted with under 30 seconds left in the first.
Mark Arcobello sent a pass in the neutral zone to Denny Kearney at the RPI blue line. Kearney skated down the right wing, and was being defended by Erik Burgdoerfer. As Kearney reached the right circle, he dragged the puck behind him. He then used Burgdoerfer as a screen and fired a low wrist shot off the far post and past Lange.
Lange was sharp after that. He made 29 saves, including five in overtime.
“It was an entertaining, physical, fast-paced college hockey game,” Appert said. “Both teams had a lot of scoring chances. The game wasn’t 1-1 because of the sparkling defense of either team. It was 1-1 because of a little inability to score on both teams’ parts, and some great goaltending by both teams.”
The Engineers lost their top goal scorer, forward Andrei Uryadov, at 4:29 of the first after he was thrown out of the game by referee Matt Smith for a questionable major hitting from behind call. Uryadov drove Bulldogs defenseman Tom Dignard into the boards behind the Yale net. A replay of the hit showed Uryadov connected Dignard on his right shoulder, not his back. The Engineers killed off the major, which was interrupted by a Yale penalty.
“That’s out of our control,” Appert said. “We can’t control those things. [Smith] saw fit to call a penalty, and that’s the way it is.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.