SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — The Zamboni broke down after the first period. The clock failed to stop two times in the final seconds of the game. There was plenty of feistiness, and lots of penalties.
It was just another crazy game between the Union and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey teams.
“It was pretty wild,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “That’s RPI-Union. I guess, as a coach sometimes, you come in expecting it.”
In the end, it was the power play that decided the game. The Dutchmen went 2-for-6 on their man advantages, while the Engineers’ continued their struggles, going 0-for-5. Thanks to second-period power-play goals by Stephane Boileau and Adam Presizniuk, Union came away with a 2-1 ECAC Hockey win at Messa Rink.
The two teams meet again tonight at 7 p.m. at Houston Field House.
The Dutchmen (4-3-2 ECACH, 9-8-3 overall) needed two extra seconds to win their fifth straight. The clock failed to stop when Union was called for icing with 3.1 seconds left, the second time in a few seconds that occurred. However, 5.5 seconds was put back on the clock.
However, it didn’t help the slumping Engineers (3-5-2, 8-13-3), who lost their eighth in a row.
Their power play, the worst in the nation, is now 7-for-116 (6 percent). The Engineers couldn’t take advantage of a pair of two-man advantages.
“It was a typical RPI-Union game, a lot of emotion and a lot of energy,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “I thought their best players were better than our best players. Simple as that.”
There were plenty of meetings between the players after the whistle. Twenty-one penalties were called in the game.
The strangest part of the night occurred during the first intermission. A T-shirt being tossed into the stands by a Union attendant sitting on the Zamboni hit the glass and landed on the ice. Zamboni drive Dennis Flavin couldn’t stop the Zamboni in time, and the shirt got caught in the machine. The game was delayed 32 minutes as workers furiously labored to get the T-shirt out. The Zamboni returned to the ice at 8:21 p.m., 18 minutes after the first intermission was supposed to end. It finished resurfacing the ice at 8:29. The teams returned at 8:31 p.m., and were given a couple of minutes to warm up.
“I’m really disappointed about that,” Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin said. “We try to create a good atmosphere for the entire environment. It was a promotion that went awry.”
After a scoreless first period, in which Union outshot RPI, 16-9, Scott Halpern gave the Engineers a 1-0 lead at 10:42 of the second when he deposited a backhander past goalie Corey Milan.
“Scott made a great play,” said goalie Jordan Alford, who made 41 saves. “He worked hard, and scored the goal. But there was a lot of game [left].”
Boileau got that one back 27 seconds later. He was to the left of the net when he one-timed a Jason Walters pass past Alford.
“Right now, the power play is good for us,” Boileau said. “We’ve had a lot of good scoring chances. That makes a difference.”
Presizniuk snapped the tie at 14:37. Taking a pass from Josh Coyle behind the goal line, Presizniuk had his first shot stopped by Alford. The rebound came back to Presizniuk, and with no one checking him, he put it in over Alford’s right shoulder.
“I got the first shot off, and then it came right back to me,” Presizniuk said. “I got it up the second time. I was surprised I had quite a bit of time there.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY